It’s a traditional Ogilvy success story. Fiona Gordon, who started as a graduate trainee in the 90s and is now UK CEO, has done everything right, building a career at Ogilvy domestically and internationally, yet she’s not currently a familiar name outside the agency.
Gordon was most recently chief client officer for EMEA, a promotion made as a reward for her success as WPP UK team lead for the significant Walgreens Boots Alliance business, which she managed to retain last year after a global pitch.
Before that she was UK group transformation director, returning to the UK after international success as group chairperson of the agency in Singapore, where she helped win various awards for Ogilvy South East Asia. She also spent five years in New York earlier in her career as a management supervisor.
Gordon also sits on the advisory board of WPP’s women’s network, Stella, and as well as being a mentor, is part of a reverse mentor scheme to keep her connected with people at all levels of the business.
Gordon said: “Having started my career at Ogilvy UK as a graduate trainee, there is a wonderful circularity about taking the reins of the agency I love now as the CEO. I’m so energised by the opportunity to lead and cherish Ogilvy UK and look forward to partnering with our fantastic clients and stellar talent, to deliver work that has true impact for all our clients and our people.”
Paul O’Donnell, Ogilvy CEO EMEA, said: “Fiona is a truly modern, inspirational leader, who focuses on building high performing teams and is a tremendous champion for creativity and talent. She is absolutely the right person to lead Ogilvy UK into the next phase of its evolution. Fiona leads with typical Scottish candour and drive and I look forward to partnering with her in this new role. “
The agency has long been known as the “University of Ogilvy” thanks to its success with graduate trainees and its emphasis on proper cross-discipline training for them. James Murphy, Cilla Snowball, Nick Emery, Carl Johnson, Andrew Robertson, Ben Priest, Johnny Hornby and Mark Wnek are among the many well known alumni who went on to do well elsewhere.
Even David Furnish, now married to Elton John, was once on the scheme in London. Inevitably there has been a “brain drain” from the agency with all this ambitious talent in its midst, but Rory Sutherland, now vice chairman, has, like Gordon, remained loyal to Ogilvy and still plays a big role in boosting its reputation worldwide.