SYDNEY — Edelman's Michelle Hutton is to return to Australia to lead the firm's operations in that market, while also adding a new role as chief growth officer for Asia-Pacific.

The relocation comes almost five years after Hutton relinquished the Australia CEO role to move to Edelman London, where she held a succession of senior roles, culminating in her current position as MD of global clients.

In Australia, she replaces outgoing CEO Steve Spurr, who will take a sabbatical after more than two decades with the firm. Spurr joined Edelman Australia in 2016, after previously serving as COO of Edelman UK.

"Steve has been an indispensable partner to our clients and a mentor to our colleagues over his impressive career across our APAC and EMEA regions," said Edelman global COO Matt Harrington. "We thank him for his many contributions so far and look forward to him returning early next year so we can continue to benefit from his talent and leadership."

Hutton's return to the Asia-Pacific region follows the departures of senior leaders Rupen Desai, who was regional vice-chair, and Jeffrey Yu, who led China. The region has been led by Jesse Lin since late 2017.

Hutton, who is also chairing this year's Cannes Lions PR Jury, said that Asia-Pacific is "by far the most exciting region for our industry and our clients." She returns to the region nine years after joining Edelman Australia, following a two decade stint with H+K Strategies.

"Australia is a market on the brink of significant disruption, and it’s imperative we continue to adapt our business to help brands and companies stay ahead of rapid change," added Hutton. "From a client perspective, the priority for me will be ensuring we can continue helping businesses and brands earn attention and trust, while creating meaningful change for themselves and society."