Wendy Smyth, 41, who became the first woman on the Saatchi & Saatchi Co. board in April 1993, was quietly bumped up two weeks ago to chief operating officer from finance director. Her forthright, quotable manner has quickly made her a media favorite.
"She took a very brave stand against Maurice" Saatchi, said Tom Russell, a U.S. businessman who is a member of the agency's board. "She's a good financial officer and above and beyond that, a very good strategic thinker."
Like the other women being elevated, Ms. Smyth isn't succeeding anyone specifically-the changes at Saatchi have led to a complete restructuring of posts and redefining of duties.
Playing a crucial role at Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising's flagship London office-which has suffered most of the group's staff defections and wavering clients-are the returning Marilyn Baxter and Lynda Graham. Ms. Baxter, an executive planning director who left Saatchi two years ago to sail around the world, two weeks ago became client service director and vice chairman.
Most recently CEO of Saatchi's Hong Kong and China shop, Ms. Graham started her U.K. job last week as marketing director in charge of new business.
In other moves, Tamara Ingram has moved up from Procter & Gamble Co. group account director to joint chief executive. (The other new joint chief executive is Adam Crozier, formerly media director.) And Rita Clifton has moved to vice chairman from executive planning director.
For the women involved, the shifts are a welcome surprise.
"When I left four years ago, there wasn't even a female group account director," Ms. Graham said.