As Maurice Lévy Winds Down, the Ad Business Speeds Up Publicis CEO discusses the rapid pace of the industry, retirement

Maurice Lévy has grown accustomed to acting first and saving the deliberation for later. In a conversation with Fast Company’s Danielle Sacks on Tuesday afternoon, the Publicis Groupe CEO reflected on the greatest change the advertising industry has experienced—an accelerated pace—over his 40-year career, a career that is approaching closure.

On the topic of taking risks in the industry, Lévy compared the current state of affairs in advertising to the Wild West. In describing the rapid movement the industry has had to adjust to thanks to digital, Lévy emphasized the speed now required in the decision-making process. “Nowadays, we have to adapt and think fast. We have to act before we’re able to complete the thought,” he said. “Despite the fact that we live longer, we have less time.”

It makes sense that Lévy would highlight this, as it seems likely that his tenure at Publicis will end soon. When pressed by Sacks about his retirement plans, Lévy—who will turn 70 this year—joked that he planned to remain onboard for another “120 years. Or more.” Laughs aside, he candidly explained his decision to delay the retirement he had planned for this year. “The only thing I have not been able to do in a wise way is manage my board," he said. “I had very serious plans and none were involving golf.” But, he said, “It won’t be very long."

Topics: Publicis