With his ascension to CEO of Accenture Interactive, David Droga will run the world’s fourth-largest agency company behind WPP, Omnicom Group and Publicis Groupe.
That vaults Droga from operating an agency with estimated revenue of $200 million before it was purchased by Accenture two years ago to helming a global behemoth with revenue of $10.6 billion, sharing the same rarefied air as Mark Read, John Wren and Arthur Sadoun.
“He’s moved from running a mid-range agency to running one with billions in revenue,” said one agency consultant. “That’s a big jump even for a guy as smart as David Droga.”
Industry reactions ranged from “puzzling” and “curious” to “surprising.”
“Dave Droga’s appointment shows that Accenture is trying to show the outside world, their internal staff, and potential acquisitions that they 'get' creative,” says Simon Francis, CEO at Flock Associates. “But Droga, wonderful though he may be, is just one person. I’m personally quite interested in why he would do the role, surely it’s a very different challenge than he has tackled before, in a very different environment and culture.”
“I am certainly surprised. I didn’t see him as a big company kind of dude,” says Sarah Hofstetter, former CEO of 360i and current president of e-commerce analytics firm Profitero. “When you’re a founder and when you have the name on the door there is a certain amount of permission and power that may not translate to a bigger company.”
Accenture declined to make Droga, who begins his new post Sept. 1, available for an interview.
While Droga’s creative chops are unquestioned, running an operation such as Accenture Interactive requires a different skillset, said a second consultant. “To run a [consulting] company is different than running creative insights and creative inspiration. The industry is filled with people who are fabulous at the craft and they get promoted into a role where they don’t have all the skillsets. So you become a CEO. Do you know how to run a P&L?”
Yet those who have worked with Australian-born Droga say his abundant charisma and dynamism will go a long way when it comes to competing with holding companies and attracting clients. “Would you rather work with Mark Read or Arthur Sadoun?” says a former Droga exec. “Most of those companies are run by bankers and stiff suits without a creative person in front.”
There is a huge challenge in taking a global behemoth the size of Accenture Interactive with its myriad units and pulling them into a cohesive whole, said Avi Dan, who runs search consultancy Avidan Strategies. That said, he adds: “I wouldn’t sell David Droga short.”
“People asked if Accenture would change Droga5,” David Droga has said. “I said we would change them.”
Droga is succeeding Brian Whipple, a former Rapp and Hill Holliday executive, who the company said is retiring after 10 years of running Accenture’s agency business. At press time, Accenture had not responded to a request for Whipple’s age.