IPG: Michael Roth steps down, Philippe Krakowsky steps up

Michael Roth is retiring from his role as Interpublic Group CEO after 15 years in the job, and will be replaced by Philippe Krakowsky, currently executive vice president and chief operating officer at IPG.

Krakowsky (right), who has been at IPG for 18 years, will take up Roth’s role on 1st January. Roth will be on hand as executive chairman of the board, much like Maurice Levy has stuck around to offer advice to his own chosen successor at Publicis Groupe, Arthur Sadoun.

David Thomas, presiding director of the IPG board, said: “Michael has taken bold strategic actions to reposition IPG for the future, focusing the company on the right business lines, growing digital and data capabilities organically and through acquisition, all while advancing diversity and employee engagement and setting the industry standard for growth and margin expansion.

For most of this century, the big four holding companies have been led by the same group of men, but the old world order is on its way out, with only Omnicom’s John Wren, 68, still standing. Levy finally stepped aside at Publicis in 2018, and Martin Sorrell was ousted from WPP a year later. The business might be going through a very tough time, but succession seems to have gone relatively smoothly, and Krakowsky (whose claim to fame outside IPG is that he sold his AI firm to Apple many years ago) looks unlikely to be an exception.

Roth (personal net worth around $50 million, pay check of around $16 million) has only good things to say about Krakowsky: “Philippe operates at that rare intersection of courage, drive and emotional intelligence. He looks to the future and sets ambitious goals for the company and its leaders – and he succeeds because he is a true collaborator who shares success with the team and uplifts them during the hard days. He’s been a strategic partner to me over the past 18 years, helping make IPG the company it is today,” added Roth.

A trained tax lawyer, Roth was a non-exec director at IPG when, in 2005, he was asked to become CEO at a difficult time for the group. He moved from becoming a caretaker (even a defender at some points when IPG was a takeover target) to a respected leader, protecting growth rates, investing in decent acquisitions, managing succession, and championing diversity.

IPG has always been stronger in the US than in Europe. Its best-known agency brands include McCann, R/GA, MullenLowe, FCA, Initiative and Weber Shandwick.

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