When Mullen CEO Joe Grimaldi interviewed Alex Leikikh for the job of director of account service in 2009, he was really looking for a future successor. He knew he'd found it when he asked Mr. Leikikh what job he ultimately wanted at Mullen. Mr. Leikikh's answer: "Yours."
Mr. Leikikh, 40, is now getting that nod. He'll move from president to CEO at the Boston-based Interpublic Group of Cos. shop. Mr. Grimaldi will stay on as chairman for the next two years. He has been with Mullen for 31 years and became CEO 14 years ago, when the company was purchased by IPG.
"Alex is my handpicked successor," said Mr. Grimaldi in a statement. "I was pretty certain he was the guy by the time our courtship concluded with him joining Mullen. My confidence has grown with every passing month and year as he and the leadership team have created head-turning success. Our agency is at its historical peak today. It is just the beginning of a more distinguished future under Alex's leadership."
Mr. Leikikh started his agency career at Leo Burnett in Chicago in 1995, where he worked with client Philip Morris, and moved to Fallon in 1998 where he worked his way up to senior account management positions on United Airlines, National/Alamo Rental Cars, Garmin and BMW. From there he joined Mullen in 2009. During his junior year in high school, he enlisted in the United States Army National Guard and completed his service upon graduation from Carleton College.
Mullen has had a strong and consistent new business run over the past few years under Mr. Leikikh and the rest of the leadership team and 2013 has been no exception. The shop in March won the Acura business from longtime incumbent RPA and earlier this year added Honest Tea and American greetings, among others.