CRO Laura Desmond Leaves Publicis Groupe, Rishad Tobaccowala To Take Over

publicisAfter a six-month sabbatical, Chief Revenue Officer Laura Desmond will leave Publicis Groupe due to a family health emergency, the company announced Thursday. (Press release)

Desmond’s term with the organization will end on Dec. 31. Rishad Tobaccowala, the holding company’s chief strategy and growth officer who performed Desmond’s responsibilities during the sabbatical, will continue executing her duties while remaining in his role.

Desmond became chief revenue officer in late 2015 as Publicis Groupe underwent a major reorganization to streamline its media-buying agencies. She previously served as global CEO of Starcom Mediavest Group, and was succeeded by Steve King, CEO of Publicis Media.

“After thoughtful reflection and discussions with [Publicis Groupe CEO Maurice Levy], I have concluded this is the right step for me,” Desmond said in a statement. “I leave the Groupe with nothing but thanks and appreciation for the opportunities and support I’ve received throughout my career and during my leave.”

In 2014, Tobaccowala became chief strategy and innovation officer at VivaKi, Publicis’ former trading desk. When VivaKi disaggregated, he was moved up the ranks to the holding company level.

Tobaccowala’s ascendance to the C-suite was notable.

For the French organization, it was a bet on both digital media and a more global leadership. A programmatic veteran, Tobaccowala is adamant about enhancing data-driven buying. But he’s also a big proponent of the agency’s role and its ability to leverage that data for better storytelling in advertising.

For Publicis Groupe, Tobaccowala’s new role reaffirms a commitment to data and innovation as the organization struggles to quell the ripple effect from two massive reorganizations and bounce back after losing major accounts during 2015’s Mediapalooza.

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  1. TuxedoUWS

    Rishad may be the smartest guy in the industry. Good for him and Publicis!

  2. As someone who worked with him at Leo Burnett … actually, he is smarter than that!