LONDON — Hill+Knowlton Strategies has promoted Simon Whitehead, currently MD of the agency’s energy and industrials team, to UK chief executive, effective immediately. He takes over from Richard Millar, who has been promoted to global president along with Lars Erik Grønntun.

Whitehead joined H+K in 2011 and has transformed the energy and industrials team into the largest of H+K UK’s eight industry sectors, with 35 people and clients including Shell, Hitachi, ICMM, OGCI and E.ON. He has also served as lead of H+K’s global energy and industrials practice.

Whitehead told the Holmes Report that moving into his first CEO role at H+K’s largest office – now 300-strong – was “a big step, but it’s going to be exciting.” He added: “The agency in London is doing very well, with a great group of people and great clients, and has shown incredible innovation over the past couple of years."

He said his priorities were to “understand the business in full, settle the agency and find my way with colleagues – which is paramount – then devise a way of keeping the agency innovating over what will be a challenging six months with external factors including Brexit and the global economy.”

Jack Martin, H+K global chairman and CEO, said: “Simon’s leadership of our Energy + Industrial’s team has proven undisputedly his leadership abilities: he is held in high regard by clients and colleagues alike and his ability to motivate and mobilize teams to deliver exceptional work is outstanding. I am confident that Simon will lead H+K’s flagship operation to new heights.”

Whitehead spent the first part of his career working at Deutsche Morgan Grenfell and in British politics. He was director of emerging markets in London at APCO Worldwide and the energy and natural resources partner at College Hill (now Instinctif) before joining H+K.