IPG’s Initiative Restructures

NEW YORK Interpublic Group’s Initiative has appointed Mauricio Sabogal to the new position of worldwide managing director as part of a broader restructuring in which U.S. president Tim Spengler has been elevated to North American president and other executives take on expanded or new global duties.

Sabogal will report to Richard Beaven, worldwide CEO of Initiative, and effectively becomes the No. 2 executive at the agency. “As the worldwide managing director he’s my partner in leading the network,” Beaven said.

In addition to his Initiative role, Sabogal also becomes president of Latin American operations for Mediabrands, the IPG management arm that oversees Initiative, sibling agency Universal McCann and other units at the holding company. In his Latin-America role, Sabogal replaces Jean-Christophe Petit, who is relocating to Europe and becomes part of the Mediabrands EMEA leadership team, which is headed by Graham Duff.

Sabogal joins the IPG shop from Omnicom Media Group where he was CEO of Latin-American operations, overseeing both OMD and PHD. He joined OMD as CEO of Latin America in 2002 and helped build the shop into one of the top-ranked agency networks in the region. He was promoted to CEO of OMG Latin America in 2007.

For now, Sabogal remains based in Miami.

Beaven, who was promoted to worldwide CEO in early 2008, characterized this latest round of executive moves as “phase two” of a management reorganization that began last September when he put in place a new leadership team for the shop’s key operations.

Since then, “my focus has been on how we connect as a network and ensure that we develop our client business,” Beaven said. “The opportunities that have come up have led to a position where investing in a talent like Mauricio to help lead the network and client efforts really became a sensible move.”

Beaven said that he and Sabogal would work out how to split up management responsibilities “in pretty short order,” after the latter arrives at the shop in late August. “This is really about spreading the load,” he added. “It’s likely to be a blend of regions and functions.”

Beaven didn’t know Sabogal well before recruiting him. “I certainly knew of him,” Beaven said. “He’s got a very strong reputation and I’ve gotten to know him through this process. We’ve struck up a good relationship.”

In a statement, Sabogal said: “I am looking forward to applying my network, client and product experience in order to further leverage Initiative’s talent and to enhance their proposition to clients.”

Ludwig Haderer has been named to replace Sabogal as CEO of OMD’s Latin-American operation. He previously headed Central-American ops and before that was president of OMD Latin America.

In another key management shift at Initiative, Janet Fitzpatrick has been promoted to the new position of president, worldwide clients. Previously, Fitzpatrick had been worldwide director of communications planning; those duties are being assumed by Sarah Ivey. Fitzpatrick remains based in New York. Erin Flaxman is being promoted to worldwide client director, from U.S. director of business development, Initiative. She will report to Fitzpatrick.

Spengler was appointed U.S. president in March 2008, and his promotion to N.A. president comes after significant domestic growth on his watch. Over the past 18 months, the agency has won Burlington Coat Factory, Dr Pepper Snapple Group, Hyundai/Kia and MillerCoors (in partnership with sibling Draftfcb). Earlier this year the shop successfully defended one of its most important accounts, Home Depot. Previously, Canadian operations had reported to Beaven.

The shop has also created the new role of chief technology catalyst and promoted Karin Baatsch-Deboulet to fill it. She will be responsible for developing custom-built tools and platforms for the network. Previously, she was director of worldwide operations.

Related: “Initiative: U.S. Media Agency of the Year 2008”