Edelman Makes a Wave of Leadership Changes

More Responsibilities Fall to Matt Harrington, Who Takes on New Position of Global COO

By Published on .

Edelman is making a number of changes in its senior leadership team, handing more responsibility to Matthew Harrington, currently its U.S. president and CEO.

In July, Mr. Harrington will assume the newly created role of global chief operating officer. Reporting to Global President-CEO Richard Edelman, he will head the PR giant's operations in Canada, Latin America, EMEA, APAC and the U.S. Mr. Harrington will also oversee operational departments, including human resources, information technology and legal.

Matthew Harrington
Matthew Harrington

Edelman China President Mark Hass will relocate to the U.S., where he'll succeed Mr. Harrington as president and CEO in the firm's largest market.

Thomas Mattia, who most recently served as chief communications officer at Yale University and was formerly global head of communications at the Cola-Cola Co., will become chair of Edelman China.

When asked if the moves signal a succession plan, Mr. Edelman -- who took over from his father, founder Daniel J. Edelman -- told Ad Age : "This is simply a recognition of the size of the firm. I think if you look at the management of our competitors, they have more than one person [at the top].

"This decision is completely endorsed by my dad, my mother, my siblings. It's a family business, and Matthew is family. He's on our board, which is largely a family board, and he's trusted."

Mr. Harrington, hired for a junior role by Mr. Edelman 28 years ago, has spent almost his whole career at the firm. He'll continue to work with longstanding clients such as Starbucks and Samsung, but focus on global expansion and strategy.

"We're a larger enterprise," Mr. Harrington said, referring to the recent growth in Moscow, Abu Dhabi, India and Asia. "My remit is to look at our global footprint. Job one is to get to know better those markets I haven't been deeply engaged in."

Global expansion is one of the firm's ambitions, Mr. Edelman said. "We think that eventually we can get to a billion dollars. That's a far-out goal, but I believe that 's something we can envisage by 2020."

Edelman's U.S. business rose to $383 million last year from $349 million in 2010. The firm added 170 employees in the U.S. in 2011, which increased regional headcount to more than 2,100. Global revenue hit $614 million, vs. $531 million in 2010.

Mr. Edelman will continue to travel somewhat but will sharpen his focus on the U.S. market. "I'll do more client-facing work and also more work on the future, as I see it, of our business, which is that place between advertising and digital and PR," he said. "I'll also spend more time in the Silicon Valley, understanding where [platforms like] Facebook and Tumblr are going and what that means for clients and how to put more content into our business."

Most Popular