Sachs Named President of H&K U.S.
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Sachs Named President of H&K U.S.

Hill & Knowlton moved to strengthen its marketing communications operations this week with the announcement that MaryLee Sachs will succeed Tom Hoog as president and CEO of the firm’s U.S. operations.

Paul Holmes

NEW YORK, September 26—Hill & Knowlton’s recovery over the past seven years has seen the firm re-establish itself as a leader in the corporate and reputation management arena, expand its healthcare practice, and acquire its way to a major presence in the technology space, but it has not enjoyed the same success in the marketing communications arena, particularly here in the U.S. H&K chairman and CEO Howard Paster acknowledged that weakness—at least tacitly—this week with the announcement that MaryLee Sachs will succeed Tom Hoog as president and CEO of the firm’s U.S. operations.
 
Sachs was most recently director of worldwide marketing communications for the firm, based in its London office. She has played a major role in several of the firm’s biggest branding assignments, including American Express, the global Motorola account, Procter & Gamble, and Kellogg’s, which H&K handles on a pan-European basis.
 
According to Paster, “We have conducted an exhaustive search, looking both within the firm and externally at candidates for the position. MaryLee is the most suited for the position, having held top-level global positions in all facets of our matrix organization.” He cited her “success in driving our marketing communications offer throughout the worldwide network” and “her understanding of building substantial client relationships through unique, quality-driven programs.”
 
Hoog, who had announced his planned retirement earlier this year, will become a non-executive chair, working on a variety of special projects, and will retain his position on the worldwide executive committee. Says Paster, “I am grateful to have had Tom’s considerable depth in public affairs and USA management on our team.  He has contributed enormously to Hill and Knowlton and I am delighted that in his new role, we have benefit of his counsel, dedication and wit.” 
 
Also moving up is Gene Reineke, executive managing director of H&K’s central region based in Chicago. Reineke, who joined the firm in 1998 after serving as chief of staff to former Illinois Governor Jim Edgar, will be chief operating officer, a new position at the firm. Reineke’s area of expertise is public affairs, crisis management, and economic development, complementing Sachs’s background in marketing communications.
 
According to H&K president Paul Taaffe, “MaryLee and Gene are the ideal combination to take H&K in the USA to the next stage.  This is the next generation of Hill & Knowlton.”
 
Sachs says she is excited about returning to her native U.S., having spent the last several years in the U.K., and acknowledges that “the marketplace is in turmoil. It’s going to be very challenging from standpoint, but there are a lot of things we can do to strengthen our operations.” She says she expects “a slight shift in emphasis,” adding, “While marketing communications is not our strongest suit in the U.S., I will be looking at ways in which we can improve in other areas.”
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