Phil Cowdell is stepping down as Mindshare's North American chairman, the WPP agency told staffers today.
The move is being billed as a personal decision. His next stop will be decidedly more low key: Portland-based R2C Group, an independent direct-response shop.
"I know that the opportunity to make a major lifestyle and career shift that would give him much more needed time with his family is something he owes himself and [his wife] Cheryl," wrote Mindshare North American CEO Antony Young in an internal memo obtained by Ad Age . "Phil will still be active in the agency for the next three weeks as we manage the transition."
Mindshare executives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The exit marks the end of more than a decade during which Mr. Cowdell ascended through the firm ranks and worked on major accounts that included Procter & Gamble and Ford. He was named North American CEO in 2009 and has since been instrumental in bringing in new business, such as CVS, Abbott Laboratories and the Unilever business in North America.
The firm brought on Mr. Young last October to succeed Mr. Cowdell as North American CEO, while he moved into a newly created position of chairman of North America."These new appointments represent important steps in a strategy designed to increase Mindshare North America's role in our agency's global plans," Mindshare Worldwide CEO Dominic Proctor said at the time.
Beyond the management shifts, Mindshare faces questions about its position on a key client. Unilever recently put its $6 billion global-media business into review, which could affect Mindshare's portion of the account.