Gault takes on challenges at McCann North America

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Exec to facilitate integration, focus on new business

All McCann, all the time nearly defines Mark Gault's career in advertising.

The 42-year-old executive has stuck to a career path at McCann-Erickson Worldwide for 23 years straight, with one 11-month exception. In 1991 he jumped to what was to become Euro RSCG Worldwide, just in time to witness its merger machinations.

Mr. Gault recalls feeling delighted to return to Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann, yet happy to have learned an important lesson from the stint. "It taught me a great deal about what an absolute priority it is to have the right people-motivated people, people who give what it takes to be a success," he said.

Earlier this month, Mr. Gault emerged as the right person for one of the agency's top jobs. As regional director of McCann-Erickson North America, he mans the helm of a 17-office regional network that posted about $8.5 billion in billings last year, making it the largest operation in the McCann family behind its Europe/Africa/Middle East regional network. He succeeds Tony Miller, who was promoted to vice chairman, WorldGroup marketing communications companies.

Mr. Gault previously led McCann agencies in Japan and London. Between those assignments, he wove in high-profile roles that focused closely on client issues. Before moving to Asia, Mr. Gault was based in London as director of worldwide accounts, and from late 1999 through 2000 he served as exec VP-director of worldwide accounts, a New York-based position that brought him into the direct sight-line of Jim Heekin, chairman-CEO of McCann-Erickson WorldGroup.

"Mark has been earmarked for some time by all of us as one to watch, as one of the upcoming bright stars," Mr. Heekin said.

Mr. Heekin predicts Mr. Gault's work will now focus on two tasks. He aims to continue the network's record of recent business success, such as the win of Burger King Corp.'s adult advertising, and lead the integration of the agency's work with McCann's various marketing-services companies.

"One of Mark's big challenges is to drive that synergy and integration across various corridors of companies," Mr. Heekin said. "That's a cultural change within our company, and within our second-largest region."

Mr. Gault is well aware of the subtle difficulties involved. "Retaining the integrity of [each marketing services division] and allowing those people to believe their destiny is in their hands but at the same time [making them capable] of drawing together as a more powerful collective resource on behalf of clients-playing both sides of that street is what it's all about, and critically important," he said.

To facilitate that integration, Mr. Gault sees the need for a new breed of account management. He describes the ideal account leader as not necessarily an expert in a specified marketing field, but one well-versed enough in each to convey its relevance at the right time to McCann's clients, which include Coca-Cola Co., Unilever, Nestle and Johnson & Johnson.

According to Mr. Heekin, Mr. Gault is the right breed of executive to spearhead such challenges. "He's got a tremendous sense of urgency and intensity to attack issues and problems," he said.

By assuming the regional post, Mr. Gault follows in the footsteps of other top agency executives, including Mr. Heekin and Donald Dillon, who now heads McCann's Europe/Africa/Middle East region. But he prefers to ponder the agency's next steps rather than his own, and adopts his boss's philosophy for plotting a career trajectory. "The future takes care of itself," Mr. Gault said.

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