Holmes Report 12 Dec 2019 // 1:11PM GMT
NEW YORK — Karen van Bergen has been named dean of Omnicom University, relinquishing the Omnicom PR Group (OPRG) CEO role that she held since early 2016.
John Doolittle, president of Omnicom's DAS unit, which houses OPRG, will assume van Bergen's responsibilities as OPRG CEO while an external search is conducted to find a permanent successor.
Van Bergen's elevation to OPRG CEO accompanied the group's formation to house Omnicom's various PR agencies, including FleishmanHillard, Ketchum, Porter Novelli and MMC. Her tenure in charge of the industry's biggest PR P&L was marked by increased agency consolidation, and a return to modest growth from the holding group's PR division.
Agency consolidation included the integration of FleishmanHillard, Ketchum and Porter Novelli in four European markets and Singapore, Cone's shift into Porter Novelli and Portland's merger with Gplus.
Meanwhile, van Bergen also built a team that features COO Joseph Russo, chief innovation officer Erin Lanuti, international president David Gallagher and Asia-Pacific president Lynne Anne Davis.
Van Bergen becomes the third dean in Omnicom University's history, following Janet Riccio (who passed away earlier this year) and founder Tom Watson. The program is the holding company's long-standing management development initiative, with more than 5,000 global alumni.
"Developing current and future leaders is critical to our mission of solving our clients' most pressing business challenges through innovation and creativity," said van Bergen. "I am deeply honored to continue the work of my dear friend Janet Riccio and to lead a program as well-established as Omnicom University."
Van Bergen joined Omnicom in 2007, holding leadership roles at FleishmanHillard before becoming Porter Novelli CEO.
"A key quality which has always distinguished Karen as a leader is her passion for attracting, retaining and developing the best talent in our business," said John Wren, chairman and CEO of Omnicom Group. "Her shared commitment to learning and development is what made her a natural choice for this role, and we look forward to watching this prestigious program flourish under her leadership."
In addition to serving as dean of OU, van Bergen will take on the responsibility of leading Omnicom's Common Ground initiative, which supports the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals for 2030. With a specific focus on SDG#4 Education, she will run the company's existing partnerships with Girl Effect and Theirworld.