Renetta McCann Surrenders Role at Starcom MediaVest

Plans Sabbatical as U.S. CEO Laura Desmond Moves Up

By Published on .

NEW YORK ( -- Citing personal reasons, Renetta McCann said she is stepping down as the global CEO of Publicis Groupe's Starcom MediaVest Group and taking a yearlong sabbatical from the agency starting next January.
Renetta McCann
Renetta McCann

Laura Desmond, CEO of SMG, the Americas, will take her place, effective immediately.

Personal matters need 'full attention'
"I have been given the opportunity to build an incredible organization during a decade of management responsibility, but I now recognize that some family matters and personal goals have unfortunately taken a back seat during this time," Ms. McCann said in a statement. "I would like to give them my full attention now."

Ms. McCann, one of the top-ranking African-American females in media and marketing, started her career at SMG in 1978 at Leo Burnett, rising through the ranks to become global CEO in 2005.

It's unclear what role she will take on when she returns from her sabbatical, but people close to her said it would likely be related to finding talent, one of her main passions.

Ms. McCann said in a statement that "one of my personal goals is to uncover some new ways of thinking about talent/opportunity alignment, specifically which triggers, emotions and assignments can more quickly propel the right people into the best roles."

Paving the way
Ms. McCann will spend the next six months helping to transition Ms. Desmond into the global CEO role. Ms. Desmond is also a longtime member of the SMG media empire. She started as an associate at what was then Leo Burnett Media, where she worked on and supervised accounts including Heinz, McDonald's, Kellogg, Coca-Cola and General Motors. In 2000, she was named CEO of SMG's Latin America unit and two years later was named CEO of MediaVest. In 2006, she became CEO of SMG, the Americas.

"I was not expecting to fill the global CEO role at this point in my career," Ms. Desmond said in a statement. "But the fact that I am prepared to do it is a testament to Renetta McCann, to the remarkable talent that populates this network, and to the forward-thinking clients that have challenged and inspired me to constantly up my game. I have tremendously large shoes to fill without a doubt, but I also have powerful momentum to build on."
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