LONDON — Tanya Hughes is stepping down from Talk.Global – rebranded from Talk PR earlier this year – where she most recently served as chief global officer in charge of its Sermo independent agency network.

Hughes is leaving to complete a Masters in Science Communication at Imperial College, as she explores a career move into healthcare. Her decision comes after she led a pro bono brand reputation project for Imperial College last year.

She told the Holmes Report: “I’ve always been a little bit anomalous in the fashion and lifestyle PR world as I did a maths degree. I’ve been very privileged to have had a fantastic career, but at the back of my mind there’s always been a scientist waiting to get out and when I did the pro bono project for Imperial, it felt like going home. I loved the first year of the course so much I wanted to concentrate on it to accelerate the end game of moving into the field of healthcare, whether industry or policy – we’ll have to see what opportunities open up. It’s either brave or stupid, but I’m so excited.”

Hughes has been associated with Talk.Global owner M&C Saatchi since 1997, when she helped to found M&C Saatchi Sports & Entertainment. She became a board director at Talk PR in 2003, before becoming MD in 2009. In 2014, Hughes shifted to the chief global officer role, which saw her build and develop Sermo, now comprising 16 agencies working in 19 countries, while also overseeing Talk.Global's worldwide assignments.

Hughes also served on the strategy board of M&C Saatchi Group, helping to drive growth, profitability and agency development, including digital transformation. Her work has seen her oversee brand building and reputation management for such clients as Adidas by Stella McCartney, Pernod Ricard, Lane Crawford Joyce Group, the British Fashion Council, Johnson & Johnson and Coty.

Prior to joining M&C Saatchi, Hughes was a board director at Lynne Franks PR.

The leadership of Sermo will be split between founder and chairman Jane Boardman, CEO of Talk.Global, and COO Ryan Woor, with support from the network’s administrator and new business director.