Maja Pawinska Sims 31 May 2022 // 5:16PM GMT
LONDON — Portland CEO Mark Flanagan is stepping back from the role after two and half years and handing over to deputy CEO, Vikki Dean.
Flanagan will remain with the firm as a senior advisor with the firm and will also take on a new position within Portland’s parent company, Omnicom to be announced in the summer.
Before joining Portland in 2010, Flanagan was head of strategic communications for Downing Street, where he was head of strategic communications under then-prime minister Gordon Brown. He has held leadership posts at Portland including senior partner and UK managing director, before becoming chief executive at the end of 2019 – when founder and CEO Tim Allan stepped down as parent company Omnicom merged Portland with another of its public affairs firms, GPlus.
Dean returned to Portland in January as deputy CEO, having spent two and a half years at Google as Director of Global Policy. Dean was previously a partner at Portland, part of the corporate team leading the agency’s Brexit Unit. Before that, she held senior Foreign and Commonwealth Office roles, including British High Commissioner to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, and deputy director of Europe. She takes over global leadership of the agency’s 280-strong workforce from July.
Flanagan said: “It’s been an amazing 12-year journey, but I’ve concluded that now is the right time to hand over day-to-day running of the business. Portland is a powerhouse agency which features some incredibly talented people doing great work for the best clients. I have no doubt that the firm will continue to thrive under Vikki’s amazing leadership and I wish her well.”
Dean added “I’m really looking forward to taking the reins at Portland at this exciting time. Portland’s offer – brilliant strategic communications professionals, across the globe, to help clients with complex problems in contested spaces – has never been more relevant. We want to grow our offer even further, building on our ability to offer integrated, across the board, impactful communications and high calibre policy advice.
“I am especially keen to develop our offer to clients around our understanding of the links between the US, Europe and the UK where we have offices, as well as deepening our work through our presence in Africa and the Middle East.”
Chris Foster, CEO of Omnicom Public Relations Group, said he had been “instantly impressed” with Dean. “As a respected client counsellor with a global mindset and a true appreciation of the importance of a strong culture, she is the perfect leader for Portland. I have every confidence she will unlock new opportunities for the agency, it’s people and its clients,” he said.
In addition, Portland has promoted seven directors to partner: Jamie Fenton, Raghd Hamid, Seonaid Hyslop-Parsons, Rachel Maconachy, Susie Rushton, Richard Suchet and Harry Watson. Dean said “It’s rewarding to be able to promote so much talent from within the agency. This new leadership team will help drive the agency through our next phase of growth.”