IBM’s Kenny is latest CEO candidate to be tapped by WPP

WPP chairman Roberto Quarta and his chums on the board are keeping us interested in Sir Martin Sorrell’s successor as CEO of WPP.

Latest name in the frame is IBM’s David Kenny (below), boss of its Watson and Cloud Platform p[erations who clearly knows his tech. Kenny was also a founder of digital agency Digitas and ran Publicis Groupe’s VivaKi programmatic buying platform so he ticks most of the boxes.

Kenny has ruled himself out, or IBM says he has, but you never know.

Such speculation may be entertaining for most of us but not for those at WPP, especially COO Mark Read who’s the insider’s favourite and, very likely, a popular choice with WPP’s big clients.

If Read were to be overlooked then he would almost certainly leave, a move which would interest a range of potential employers from Publicis Groupe to Accenture Interactive, both camping on WPP’s lawn. Former boss Sorrell is also looking for a CEO for his new venture S4 Capital. That would really rattle WPP’s cage.

WPP isn’t planning to reveal the new CEO until it announces Q2/half time figures early in September but, if Kenny is ruled out, it may need to get a move on. It has recently announced some big media wins – Mars and part of Mondelez – as well as retaining a big part of Shell and winning Unilever’s Sunlight in Africa.

Read and co. seem to have steadied the ship. He seems reluctant though to fashion a different type of vessel and that may be why the door is still open to the likes of Kenny.

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Mark Read WPP

About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.
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