Maja Pawinska Sims 18 Mar 2019 // 2:48PM GMT
LONDON — Emma Thompson, chair of Weber Shandwick’s UK consumer practice, is leaving the agency after 11 years, the Holmes Report has learned.
Thompson joined Weber Shandwick in January 2008 as a director and became deputy managing director of the consumer practice when Rachel Friend joined as MD in 2010. She became consumer MD in 2013 and then MD of London operations and consumer marketing in 2015.
Thompson had been UK chair of consumer marketing since January last year – overseeing the agency's consumer practices in London, Manchester, Scotland and Northern Ireland – as part of the restructuring in the wake of former EMEA CEO Colin Byrne’s departure that also saw Friend promoted to UK CEO.
Under Thompson’s leadership, the London consumer division tripled in size and brought in big consumer brands such as Virgin Atlantic, Burger King, Kellogg’s, Unilever, British Gas, HSBC, Pearson and Netflix, winning multiple awards including a Cannes Lion for Pearson's Project Literacy.
She also recruited talent into the division including Stuart Lambert – now a partner at Blurred – and digital lead Danny Whatmough.
Thompson told the Holmes Report: “I have had 11 incredible years at Weber Shandwick. It is such a hard decision to leave something that you built, loved and nurtured for many years, but it is definitely time for a new direction and a new challenge for me and I’m really excited about the road ahead.”
“Building and transforming the consumer practice is one of the things in my life I am most proud of. In eight years leading the practice, it went from a department that many didn't know existed in a predominantly corporate agency, to arguably being the leading consumer practice in the UK. I didn't do it alone but my greatest achievement was to recruit, nurture and lead an unbeatable team - we worked hard, did some really game-changing work and had a lot of fun along the way.”
In terms of her next move, Thompson said: “I honestly haven’t yet decided. It is a massively exciting time for the industry and I haven’t ruled anything out completely but I'm not rushing. I've met with some impressive new start-ups, as well as marketing and ad agencies looking to set up a new PR offerings and I would not rule out another big agency if it were the right role.”
Friend said: “I would like to thank Emma for her huge contribution to the success of the firm. Under her leadership, the consumer practice has grown from strength to strength, producing award-winning work for some of the world’s leading brands. We are very grateful to Emma for all she has done, and wish her every success for the future.”