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Chris Shumaker to Oversee New-Business Pitches at Holding Company Level

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NEW YORK ( -- Just a day after naming its fourth chief financial officer in three years, troubled Interpublic Group of Cos. added a top executive to its corporate team focused on brining new business to the agency holding company.

Chris Shumaker joins Interpublic as senior vice president and director of North American network development from WPP Group's Grey Worldwide North America, where he was executive vice president and director of development.

Former Grey executives
He will report to Steve Centrillo, another former Grey executive, who joined Interpublic in May as executive vice president and chief growth officer. Mr. Centrillo replaced Kevin Allen, who relocated to London and is focused on growth and development initiatives in Europe. The former Grey executives are charged with promoting collaboration across Interpublic's hundreds of agencies as well as assembling teams to participate in new-business pitches orchestrated at the holding-company level.

"What's happening today is that holding companies are getting more involved in winning accounts," Mr. Centrillo said. "Getting the right resources from within the holding company is important. We're still about our brands, and when we want to pitch one or several of our brands will be involved."

Familiar with Interpublic
Messrs. Centrillo and Shumaker have each worked at Interpublic agencies at earlier stages of their careers. Prior to joining Grey last August, Mr. Shumaker worked for nine years at the Martin Agency in Richmond, Va., leading its new-business efforts. Mr. Centrillo, who held dual roles as chief operating officer of Grey, Atlanta, and managing partner of DarkGrey, a unit within Grey, was a former global account director at McCann Erickson in New York and earlier worked at Bozell, a now defunct agency that Interpublic acquired with its 2001 purchase of True North Communications.

"Chris' experience is in building relationships for new business and getting agencies into pitches," Mr. Centrillo said. "My job and experience is not about that. Part of my role is to facilitate new-business pitches and build accounts organically."

Handling special projects
In a memo sent to Grey employees today, Ed Meyer, Grey Global Group CEO, told employees that Mr. Shumaker gave six-months notice and will remain at the agency through the next few months working on special projects. Warren Fischer, a longtime Grey executive, will run new-business efforts on an interim basis until Mr. Shumaker's successor is named, a Grey spokeswoman said.

This now makes three former Grey executives who have landed at Interpublic following WPP's acquisition of Grey Global. Steve Blamer, the former president-CEO of Grey Worldwide North America, joined Interpublic's Foote Cone & Belding in June as president-CEO.

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