Nancy Hill: 'It's Time To Have a Different Set of Skills at the Top'

Outgoing 4A's President-CEO Talks Transparency, Diversity and Successor

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After nine years at the helm, Nancy Hill will step down from her role of 4A's President-CEO by June 2017. Ms. Hill, the first woman chief executive for the association, talks to Ad Age about her forthcoming departure, future plans and proudest moments.

Why did you decide next summer was the right time to leave?

Ms. Hill: Originally when I met with the selection committee, I told them that I felt the right amount of time was between five and seven years, and it's going to be nine, which is longer than expected. I think with the pace of change in the industry, it's important that the people leading this organization recently have been in an agency. The change in the industry has been so dramatic, and I think it's time to have a different set of skills at the top. We made the announcement now because we're starting a search process and it took 18 months the last time around.

Nancy Hill
Nancy Hill

Are you going to be involved in the search?

Ms. Hill: I'm not going to be involved in the search. I find it kind of strange to be looking for your successor. When they get it down to one or two candidates, I'll be happy to meet with them and share my views. Hopefully we'll be able to have some overlap with the person coming in so it's a smooth transition.

What will you focus on over the next year?

Ms. Hill: We're going to continue to focus on gender and diversity in the workplace and keeping that in the forefront as much as we can. We have some research that will kick that off at the end of the summer. We're also going to continue to focus on what agencies are doing, what they have to do to have conversations with clients on transparency. When the Ebiquity report comes out, we'll review it and sit down with the ANA and figure out how to work together going forward.

What are you most proud of through your tenure at 4A's?

Ms. Hill: My remit was to modernize the organization and I think we've done that pretty successfully and moved from being somewhat focused on being a trade organization to somewhat of a community organizer and bringing the right people together in the right room at the right time to get stuff done. We're much more proactive than we used to be.

What are your plans after June 2017?

Ms. Hill: I'll do some combination of consulting and spending time in Ecuador, where I have a home. I've had my house down there for 12 years, and I spend a lot of time volunteering for an organization, People Helping People, and we help build schools in the Andes.

Will you think about going back to the agency world?

Ms. Hill: I would be crazy not to do something with the nine years I have with this purview, which is why I'll consult, but I've been working since I've been in 8th grade, so I just need some time, but I'm too young to completely retire, so this isn't the last of me.

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