SINGAPORE—Bob Pickard has stepped down from his role as chief executive officer of Burson-Marsteller’s Asia-Pacific operations “to pursue another opportunity,” the firm says. Patrick Ford has been named interim chair of the Asia Pacific region.

Ford, who also serves as the firm’s worldwide chief client officer and was until recently the head of its North American operations, will report to the firm’s worldwide president and chief executive officer Donald Baer.

“We thank Bob Pickard for his contribution to our growth and wish him well in his future endeavors, and we could not be more pleased to have Pat Ford leading this crucial region, which is a cornerstone of our firm’s growth strategy,” said Baer in a statement.

Ford will oversee a region that includes 19 wholly-owned offices in nine countries and 11 affiliate relationships also across nine countries. He will also work with Baer and other senior leaders of the firm to lead the search for a permanent CEO of the region. 

In an email to friends and colleagues, Pickard said that while his last official day with the firm would be December 31, he was starting “gardening leave” immediately.

“Since joining B-M in January 2010, I have been honoured to serve the firm together with a fine community of colleagues across 19 markets united in a shared purpose to provide excellence in communications for our clients,” he wrote. “Burson-Marsteller is Asia’s premier PR consultancy and I am proud to have been associated with the firm.”

Pickard first came to Asia after a successful 15-year career in North American public relations. He joined Edelman as managing director for Korea in 2002, and led the Seoul office to record growth. In 2005, he led Edelman’s entry into the Japanese market, establishing the firm’s Tokyo office.

Prior to joining Edelman, Pickard was executive vice president of Environics Communications, a leading Canadian PR firm and a vice president at Hill & Knowlton Canada. He also served as a political aide to several Canadian federal Cabinet ministers.