Miles Young quits Ogilvy and WPP for academe

If there’s anyone running one of WPP’s networks who looked a credible successor to Sir Martin Sorrell as ultimate boss it’s Miles Young, boss of Ogilvy & Mather.

But Young, 61, has announced he’s stepping down to become warden of his old college, New College at Oxford University.

I’m not very well up on what ‘wardens’ do at Oxford colleges, at the other place they have ‘masters’ I think – but, to be honest, we students never paid too much attention to such details.

Here he is, being interviewed by one of his minions, at Cannes.

Anyway, New College is part of the Oxbridge elite, so well done Miles. It will be an agreeable role: entertaining the great and good of the academic world, dealing with the more extravagant excesses of students, drumming up money (he’ll be good at that) and, from time to time, sampling the college’s wine cellar. The first warden took up his duties in 1379 so there should be some good stuff remaining.

Young has done a fantastic job at Ogilvy. They’ve always had this ‘360’ spin but Young has turned it from sales material to something approaching reality. Ogilvy has been WPP’s big engine in the creativity stakes over the past few years, confounding ancient rival BBDO, owned by Omnicom, by being the most awarded agency at Cannes for the past three years. Brave moves, like enticing Graham Fink to be CCO of Ogilvy China, have paid off in spades.

No idea who’s going to take over at Ogilvy. But they’ll have to be good. One of Young’s big skills was keeping SMS in his box. A tough ask for a newbie.

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