Arun Sudhaman 20 Feb 2019 // 5:35PM GMT
NEW YORK — Edelman global vice chair Michael Stewart is stepping down after six years with the world's largest PR firm, the Holmes Report can reveal.
Stewart, who joined Edelman from McKinsey, took on the global role in late 2016, after spending three years as Europe/CIS CEO. His departure comes one month after the exit of APACMEA vice chair Rupen Desai.
Reporting to global COO Matt Harrington, Stewart's role encompassed responsibility for the Edelman Intelligence research business, the firm's C-suite advisory approach and its global practices, sectors and intellectual property. In addition, Stewart oversaw Edelman's risk management efforts, after he completed a comprehensive overview of the agency's climate change exposure in 2015.
To oversee Edelman's global practices, sectors and intellectual property, the firm has named Stephen Kehoe, who most recently served as global chair of reputation. Edelman recently restructured its practice head offering, focusing on regional and local P&Ls in a bid to reinvigorate growth.
In an internal memo seen by the Holmes Report, Stewart noted Edelman's track record of success and transformation, adding that he had "mixed emotions" about moving on.
"For some time I have wanted to focus on writing and speaking about some of the critical issues that our profession faces at the interface of public policy and the private sector, themes on which I have engaged throughout my roles in the public, private and social sectors," said Stewart. "This will be my focus while I also write the next chapter of my career."
Under Stewart, Edelman's European operations saw substantial change. The firm acquired a number of businesses, including French powerhouse Agence Elan, Sweden's Deportivo, Smithfield in the UK and German firm Ergo. Stewart also shut down Edelman's branded operations in Central and Eastern Europe — namely Russia, Turkey and Poland — and overhauled the regional leadership team.
Edelman was Stewart's first agency job, after 12 years with McKinsey, including almost a decade as partner and global communications director. Before McKinsey, he spent 15 years in various global locations as an executive with international institutions, including the Prince of Wales International Business Leaders Forum, the UN Global Compact, and The Centre for Our Common Future.
Edelman has seen a number of senior figures depart in recent months, including Desai, global brand chair Mark Renshaw, North American creative chief John Clinton and global digital chair Kevin King. Meanwhile, the firm recently named Leo Burnett's Judy John to its top creative role, as it continues to reshape its offering across paid and earned media.