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IPA appoints its first BAME president, as Publicis Groupe’s Nigel Vaz brings global and digital expertise to the role

It’s probably not the easiest time to become president of the IPA, with agency brands dying off and agency leaders clearing off in the wake of #MeToo, but Nigel Vaz has stepped up to take on the role in March.

Vaz is also busy at Publicis Groupe, where he is global transformation lead, CEO of Publicis.Sapient EMEA and APAC, and a member of the executive committee.

His global and digital experience are important to IPA director general Paul Bainsfair, who said: “Nigel is a well-known champion for technology and transformation. We continue to live in interesting times and his perspective on world, as well as local, issues will be invaluable as the IPA carves out its global reputation and navigates its way through increasingly complex business issues.”

Of course it’s also smart to follow Sarah Golding – only the IPA’s second female president – with someone who continues the drive towards diversity in the industry. The IPA still has its grand offices in Belgrave Square and prominently displays its Royal Charter, but is progressive enough to embrace a BAME president with a background in digital.

Vaz will present his full agenda at the IPA members’ lunch in the spring. For now, he said: “Wherever we look today, we see rapid and fundamental change affecting consumers, economies and culture, clients and our own businesses. The creativity and the technologies that help us to unleash that creativity will be vital to helping navigate that change.”

It doesn’t sound a long way off Sarah Golding’s “Magic and the Machines” agenda, but, as Bainsfair points out, the world has got a lot more “interesting” and “complex” in the last two years. When Golding took office, automation was more about AI — fake news and dodgy programmatic practices had yet to come under the spotlight.

There are other pressing matters for the industry too, like a new world order where there is no JWT or Y&R, Martin Sorrell is an upstart, not a veteran, and Unilever is without Paul Polman and Keith Weed.

Vaz may want to keep his agenda lofty, but it will be difficult not to get involved at some point in murkier issues, as Golding found out when she had to tackle the adland culture of “top five” emails (which rate female employees by their looks) and quickly publish a Code of Practice on Dignity at Work.

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