Tamara Ingram: The Woman Taking the Reins at JWT
J. Walter Thompson Co.'s new worldwide CEO has an impressive track record, a wealth of experience leading global teams, and is a former Ad Age Woman to Watch.
Tamara Ingram, most recently chief client team officer at WPP, took on the position succeeding Gustavo Martinez a week after JWT Chief Communications Officer Erin Johnson filed a discrimination lawsuit in New York claiming, among other things, that Mr. Martinez made multiple "racist and sexist slurs." The agency said Mr. Martinez resigned "by mutual agreement."
With the appointment, Ms. Ingram becomes one of the rare women sitting atop a major ad agency. Since 2015, Ms. Ingram has overseen 45 global account teams at WPP, which made up one-third of the holding company's $20 billion of revenue and included more than 38,000 staffers working on the accounts. Ms. Ingram was not immediately available for an interview and representatives from WPP deferred comment to sibling agency Finsbury, which has been aiding JWT with crisis communications since Ms. Johnson's lawsuit.
But her team building and client handling skills are well known. In 2007, Ms. Ingram was named president-CEO of Team P&G, a company she previously told Ad Age with which she was "passionately in love." She said at the time: "I like their human values. They want to make the world a bit better with their products. They are excited by innovation and changing things." As the leader of Team P&G she was responsible for $1 billion in business across 40 agencies. Ms. Ingram also concurrently served as exec VP-exec managing director of Grey Global Group.
Last May, when she left Grey for her post at WPP, Grey Group Chairman-CEO Jim Heekin wrote to staff in an internal memo that under Ms. Ingram's leadership, "the past eight years have been some of the most creative, productive and dynamic of our nearly 60-year partnership with P&G."
"We've pioneered new markets and new marketing channels. We've launched Famously Effective ideas that have put our juggernaut brands front and center in the pop culture conversation and driven their growth. We have broadened our relationship, winning the Gillette business. And our work has been hailed at Cannes and beyond as never before. Tam will bring the same passion, skill and dynamism to her expanded new role," he added in the memo.
Prior to Team P&G, Ms. Ingram joined Grey as its U.K. Group CEO when it was acquired by WPP in 2005, and two years earlier, she was heading up Kantar.
Before that, Ms. Ingram, a mother of two, who makes chutneys, pickles and jams in her spare time, served as CEO of McCann Worldgroup in London, and that wasn't her first time leading an agency. She worked her way up from temp at Saatchi & Saatchi in 1985 to chief executive of the London office in 1995.
WPP Chief Executive Martin Sorrell told Ad Age in the past that "Tamara is a totally unique individual who embodies the right kind of modern entrepreneurial spirit. She is smart, tough and fair, and draws out the very best in people. Her energy and passion are contagious; she gives everyone a strong sense of possibility."
Ms. Ingram is funny, stylish and knowledgeable, according to an industry executive who has known her for five years, noting that she has an excellent sense of humor.
"She's smart as hell. That silent smart where she doesn't say more than needs to be said. She has great judgement and is quick at assessing situations," this person added. "She's a very confident woman, but not boastful in any way."
Ms. Ingram also serves as a trustee for Save the Children and Royal Drawing School. and is currently a non-executive director for British outsourcing company Serco.