Arun Sudhaman 31 Jan 2019 // 4:09PM GMT
LONDON — WE Communications international president Alan VanderMolen is leaving the firm, prompting a leadership restructure at one of the world's biggest independent PR agencies, the Holmes Report can reveal.
VanderMolen departs after almost three years with WE Communications, which he joined in 2016 to oversee international expansion across EMEA and Asia-Pacific. His tenure included agency acquisitions in India, China and Singapore as the agency boosted its Asia-Pacific footprint in particular.
Kass Sells, who has been WE's North American president for almost four years, moves into a new role as global COO and international president. Meanwhile chief client officer Dawn Beauparlant has been named North American president.
"We have had an unbelievable, three-year run," VanderMolen told the Holmes Report. "Added great people, expanded in key markets and deepened the foundation. I am incredibly proud of what the agency has achieved and I have full faith of the leadership in place. It is absolutely ready for the next generation of leadership to take it to the next level."
VanderMolen declined to provide further comment as to his plans upon leaving WE in the coming weeks. A statement from the agency said he planned to "pursue other opportunities."
VanderMolen joined WE after spending 13 years at Edelman, where he led significant Asia-Pacific growth before returning to the US in 2011 to take on a number of senior global roles. VanderMolen left Edelman in September 2016, at odds with the firm after it was caught up in the detention of CCTV anchor Rui Chenggang, a former shareholder in its China subsidiary Pegasus.
Sells will oversee the agency’s EMEA and APAC regions, the development of WE’s integrated services and insights/analytics efforts, along with its global marketing and partner agencies.
Beauparlant’s expanded remit, meanwhile, will include oversight of WE’s North America sectors of consumer, health and technology, as well as regional business development.
“WE has reached an exciting inflection point in our business – through the addition of new client partnerships, the growth of our sectors and recent acquisitions,” said Melissa Waggener Zorkin, CEO of WE Communications. “It is an opportune time to make strategic changes to our global leadership team, which will enable us to better serve our clients worldwide.”
WE's Asia-Pacific leaders — WE Red Bridge CEO Penny Burgess, AvianWE group CEO Nitin Mantri, WE Buchan CEO Rebecca Wilson, and Watatawa managing partner Simon Pangrazio — have been tapped for expanded responsibilities, focusing on cross-region and cross-agency collaboration for multi-market clients. Michael Murphy will continue in his role as an international adviser.