LONDON – Weber Shandwick has promoted London managing director Helen Bennett, who has been with the firm for 15 years, to UK chief executive.

In her time at the agency, Bennett has driven UK and multi-market communications programmes for clients including HSBC, Unilever, Nike Foundation and Aldi. She was promoted to London MD in 2019, working with Weber Shandwick’s previous UK chief executive, Rachel Friend, who left in January 2020 and is now CEO of W Communications.

In her new role, Bennett (pictured, centre) will focus on integrating Weber Shandwick’s UK operations and accelerating growth across the existing client base. She will report to EMEA CEO Michael Frohlich, who joined the firm last year from Ogilvy. 

Frohlich said: “Helen is an extraordinarily empathetic leader, bringing invaluable insights and solutions. She is a trusted client adviser and team leader, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to be partnering with her to drive growth for the business in one of the region’s biggest markets.”

Bennett added: “My focus will be on ensuring we continue to use our scale and breadth to deliver extraordinary outcomes for our clients, our people and the communities we serve. We are on an upward growth trajectory, with ambitious plans to keep pushing the boundaries of what we can achieve. I’m looking forward to working with our teams across the UK to ensure Weber Shandwick is the agency of choice for clients and talent.”

To coincide with her elevation, Bennett has announced a number of new leadership roles within the UK business, including Neil Flash (pictured, second left) stepping into the newly-created role of chief operating officer for Weber Shandwick UK. Flash will also retain his role as executive vice president of healthcare specialist DNA Communications, part of the Weber Shandwick Collective.

After the departure of managing director, UK client counsel and Manchester lead Heather Blundell to Ketchum, Dean Gallagher has been promoted to managing director of Weber Shandwick Manchester. A former journalist and issues and crisis specialist, Gallagher has most recently led the corporate practice in Manchester, having been at the agency for eight years.

Natalie Buxton (pictured, left) will take on the newly formed role of managing director, UK network, with a mandate to connect Weber Shandwick’s UK offices in London, Manchester and Scotland, as well as affiliate offices in Dublin and Belfast, around key initiatives and programmes. Buxton, who has been at the firm for 15 years, will also retain her current role as managing director of Weber Shandwick Scotland.

In addition, Suzanne Gilson (pictured, second right) joins Weber Shandwick as UK chief financial officer from BBDO, where she has held the role for AMV Group and AMV BBDO for the past four years. Prior to that she was at Ogilvy for 14 years, latterly as CFO of OgilvyOne UK.

And Kirsten Newman (pictured, right), who has worked with the agency since 2018, takes on the new role of senior vice president, people, with a brief to drive a people-first culture and talent strategy.

Bennett said: “This team is emblematic of the extraordinary expertise we have within the UK business – each person bringing a very different skillset to the table while at the same time sharing a real commitment to collaboration and innovation. I can’t think of a finer set of colleagues to be partnering with as we step into a new chapter for Weber Shandwick in the UK.”

Other recent senior leadership changes at Weber Shandwick include this week's announcement that Micho Spring has been promoted to chief reputation officer and the elevation of Charlotte Witte to chief client and growth officer for EMEA.