Manning downplays multiple Ogilvy & Mather departures

When it rains it pours, and Ogilvy & Mather's doors have been swinging in recent months. But executive director Paul Manning says exit interviews with those departing showed there is "really no particular cause or pattern". 

The latest departure is group account director Simon Wedde, who's taking up a leadership position at Dow Design. He came to Ogilvy & Mather in late 2011 from Saatchi & Saatchi. 

And Paul Hickey, senior direct and data strategist, also departed recently after nine years at the agency. He and Frane Karaman are starting their own business, Stellar Data, although Manning says they will continue to work with the agency.​

Senior planner Hayden Baker has also taken a job with Goodman-Fielder and the rumour mill told us there have been 18 resignations in total in the past few weeks. Manning admits that number is about right and that it is above average, but they have taken place over the past few months. 

Finding out if there was a reason behind the departures "was very much on our radar", Manning says. But he says those leaving are off for a variety of reasons, "including moving overseas, moving out of the industry and some have had offers they can't refuse from other companies". 

On the flip side, he says it has had unprecedented interest in the positions it's recruiting for and most have now been filled (an announcement on replacements for Wedde and Baker is expected soon and, in the case of Hickey, the group has been restructured and it's "in advanced stages of recruiting for a new head of direct").  

"I suppose that's an indication of movement, or at least intention to move, across the industry at large. In my experience the first half of the year tends to be like that."

In the plus column, executive creative director Angus Hennah has recently appointed Rupert Hancock, who was creative director with DDB Sydney and worked largely on Telstra. Wade Kirkland has also joined the agency as chief financial officer. 

"[Hancock] brings some exceptionally broad creative experience with unique expertise in digital, and is already making a positive impact in the agency. He's actually returning to O&M New Zealand. He was here about five years ago, before moving to Australia. [Kirkland] joined us in March and brings over a decade of experience in upper management positions spanning the globe. Most recently this included five years in finance management with Vodafone New Zealand before moving to Vodafone Qatar. Wade is also a chartered accountant." 

He says the agency employs around 230 staff and they are constantly targeted by recruiters for other agencies. 

"We provide extraordinary training and experience across a broad range disciplines on many blue chip clients—that's always been attractive to our competitors." 

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