How AKQA Will Handle Chairman's New Sabbatical and No Creative Lead

No Immediate Plans to Replace Global Creative Chief Rei Inamoto

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Tom Bedecarre
Tom Bedecarre Credit: AKQA

As AKQA Chairman Tom Bedecarre leaves for sabbatical, and the global chief creative officer role held by Rei Inamoto remains unfilled, the agency plans to focus on existing talent.

"After 35 years in advertising, and the past 15 years collaborating with my friend and business partner, Ajaz -- I'm taking a sabbatical year off in 2016 and returning to my alma mater, Stanford University," Mr. Bedecarre said Tuesday in a statement, referring to his co-founder at AKQA, Ajaz Ahmed. "My goals for the year at Stanford include reflection and renewal, and the chance to reimagine how I can contribute in the future."

Mr. Bedecarre will be joining a program called the Stanford Distinguished Careers Institute as a 2016 Fellow.

He'll also be taking a sabbatical from his role overseeing a venture arm within AKQA parent company WPP. "I'm looking forward to becoming even more connected to the startup and venture capital ecosystem in 2016, as Stanford is located in the heart of Silicon Valley," he said in the statement.

According to a post Mr. Bedecarre wrote for Medium, he'll attend Stanford with his wife, who is currently recovering from a horseback riding accident. "We cherish our time together more than ever," he wrote.

So what does his departure mean for AKQA, as the shop still grapples with the absence of a global chief creative following Rei Inamoto's departure in September?

AKQA has no immediate plans to replace Mr. Inamoto with a new worldwide creative chief, according to a person close to the agency. It has creative leads at each individual office.

Managing Director Rem Reynolds also left with Mr. Inamoto. To address Mr. Reynolds' departure, the shop moved international managing director Giles McCormack, who had been based in London, to a managing director role overseeing New York, a post for which he relocated. He continues to co-lead the Nike business globally, an AKQA spokeswoman said.

Not much will change on the global leadership front. Mr. Ahmed and Mr. Bedecarre swapped roles in 2012, with Mr. Bedecarre moving into the chairman role and Mr. Ahmed becoming CEO. Mr. Ahmed will continue to serve as global CEO from the London office.

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