Harrison transitions from CEO to Chair at WPP's Government Practice

06 December 2019

Following the completion of the sale of a majority stake to Bain Capital Private Equity, Kantar today announces the transition of Michelle Harrison from CEO to non-executive Chair of the WPP Government Practice. This transition allows Dr Harrison to focus on her role as Global CEO of Kantar’s Public division. Dr Harrison led the WPP Government Practice since its creation in 2012.

Sean Howard, who has been the Practice’s Global Managing Director since 2017, will succeed Dr Harrison as CEO. He will continue to focus on delivering the best of WPP’s talent, resources and thought leadership to governments worldwide to meet their growing needs in communications, technology and experience.

Dr Harrison, who previously split her time between the WPP Practice and the Public division of Kantar which she launched in 2016, will now focus on implementing the next phase of the Public division’s growth strategy. The division, which is delivering strong growth, is a pillar in Kantar’s investment plans with further international expansion expected.

Says Harrison “After seven years in the WPP role, I could not be prouder of what we have achieved, and I look forward to continued partnership between Kantar and WPP in the coming years. There are enormous opportunities ahead for the Public division of Kantar, our clients and our people. We intend to go from strength to strength in leading the future of evidence for public policy and providing our clients with solutions for their increasingly complex policy challenges.”

Eric Salama, CEO, Kantar added “We have a unique opportunity to build the world’s leading research and consulting division for the public realm. Our work around the globe for governments, the public sector, multi-lateral funders and NGOs is world-leading and has real impact on people’s lives.”

Harrison will move with immediate effect to the role of Chair of the WPP Government Practice, to support the leadership transition for WPP. Sean Howard has been with WPP agencies since 2005, first joining Wunderman Thompson to help build the Seattle-based integrated Team Microsoft and lead the pitch to become T-Mobile’s agency of record. In 2012, he became Managing Director of Y&R New York, where he successfully led the pitch for the U.S. Navy’s advertising and recruiting business. Sean will continue his current role as the WPP Executive Lead on the U.S. Navy.

Of the move, he says: “Rebuilding trust between a government and its citizens is one of the most crucial challenges on the mind of government communicators today. I am thrilled to continue to drive excellence in government communications and strongly believe our global talent, thought leadership and connections to the latest advancements in technology, behaviour change theory and design experience can help governments rebuild citizen trust that has continued to erode this past decade.”