COLOGNE – Ketchum Pleon CEO Victoria Wagner has announced she will be leaving the agency this June, reports PR Report.

Wagner was made CEO in July 2016 to bring together Ketchum’s three German Ketchum agencies – Ketchum Pleon, Emanate and Brandzeichen – under one roof. She succeeded Dirk Popp.

At the time, Wagner said she wanted to make Ketchum the German market-leading agency again. Her initial focus was on restructuring, however, and in the 2016 rankings the company slipped to third place behind Fischer-Appelt.

“I quit because I want to become more entrepreneurial again in the future,” said Wagner. “When it comes to a listed company, investors’ needs are the focus, so there is relatively limited entrepreneurial scope, especially when the environment and customers are under increasing pressure."

Wagner said she could imagine starting another new agency. She founded brand communications specialist Brandzeichen in 2004 and sold it to Ketchum in 2013, remaining as CEO.

She said: “Following restructuring and realignment, the establishment of a joint, strong executive board and leadership team for the group, the development of our strategy for the coming years, and the successful merger of the three agencies, the group is well positioned for the future. I leave the agency with a good feeling and I am sure that Ketchum Germany will continue to develop successfully.”

Ketchum CEO Barri Rafferty added: “Vicky's leadership has been instrumental in cementing Ketchum's position in the German market. She has made Ketchum a stronger, broader and creative agency in Germany; their contribution will have a lasting impact on the organisation. The strong leadership and dedicated team will further advance the agency and provide our customers with the services they need.”

Rafferty, who became Ketchum's global CEO in November 2017, is the first woman to head one of the global top five agencies.

Financially, Ketchum Pleon is stable despite the restructuring: turnover in the past year is at around the same level as 2016, when Ketchum reported almost €49 million. Wagner said: “The basis for growth in 2018 has been set. We won work from Henkel in the fourth quarter and the agency is on schedule.”

Wagner will be the latest in a series of high-profile departures from Ketchum Pleon, including founder Joachim Klewes, creative head Christof Biggeleben, managing partner Rüdiger Maessen and public affairs veteran Peter Strieder.

The Ketchum Pleon CEO position will be filled in February. In the meantime, the five-member executive board will continue to run the agency: Simone Hoch (COO), Sabine Hückmann (CIO), Nadine Schulz (CMO), Kerstin Steglich (CCO) and Horst Wettlaufer (CFO).