PORTLAND, OR — Waggener Edstrom’s former head of North America Jenny Moede is the latest in a series of senior level departures from the agency as it restructures its business in North America.
Moede, a 20-year veteran of WagEd, led the agency’s North America business from 2012 to May of this year when she moved into a new role as chief business development officer. In June, however, she took sabbatical and a WagEd spokesperson confirmed today that she will not return to the agency. In the interim, she has become executive director for the Oregon Story Board that works with early stage companies on digital storytelling.
“Jenny has been at WE for 20 years and during this time has been a true entrepreneur, tackling many things including cultivating new practice areas, industry specialties and innovating within the craft of marketing communications,” said an agency spokesperson.
Yet, WagEd’s North American business has hit a soft patch in recent years. In 2013, US revenues were $98.3m, down by 3% from 2012. Last year, the 30-year-old firm also cut its global workforce (primarily in the US and Asia-Pac) by 5% following Microsoft’s highly-publicized reorg.
To bolster its lagging North America operation, WagEd is considering consolidating its US practices under a single profit and loss structure (P&L) . This year, CEO Melissa Waggener Zorkin moved the Microsoft account — which traditionally maintained its own P&L — into WagEd’s technology practice. The move coincides with shrinking budgets from WagEd’s longstanding anchor client.
The search is now underway for a new North American lead who Zorkin hopes to have secured by the end of 2014. She has enlisted an executive recruiter to identify external candidates, but has not ruled out an internal promotion for the role.
“We need to make sure the region is united,” Zorkin said. “The region is now a $90 million business, so I need to have a leader who has managed a business that size.”
During the interim, the North American management is being shared between WagEd co-founder Pam Edstrom — who is overseeing sectors and the firm’s insight and analytics business — and chief operating officer Jennifer Granston Foster who is leading services.
In the US, WagEd’s recent churn has included longtime chief client officer Claire Lematta, editor-in-chief David Patton and the GM of its Austin office Cheri Winterberg. Several senior execs departed its UK operation last month, including GM Caibre Sugrue. Earlier this year, WagEd also shut down its operations in France.