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As the Definition of a Media Agency Changes, MEC Hires a Talent Chief

Marie-Claire Barker assumes a global role

Barker comes from the creative side of the business.

The seismic shift inside media agencies toward data analysis and digital delivery has spurred MEC to name its first global chief talent officer, with the shop reaching into a creative agency to fill the role.

Marie-Claire Barker has held a similar position at Ogilvy & Mather since January 2009. At MEC, she'll have three main responsibilities: help lead the shop's reorientation—from a talent perspective—around data and digital; recruit global, regional and office leaders; and steer training and staff development, according to global CEO Charles Courtier.

And while MEC continues to employ talent managers at the regional and local level, the shop needed a global leader to drive and shape the fundamental changes in play within the organization, Courtier told Adweek.

"We are becoming much more data and digital orientated," Courtier said. "The need to shift that balance of resource and talent globally requires a really, really senior chief talent officer at the global level to be pushing, driving and designing the shape of it from the top."

The other macro trend among media agencies is their hiring of talent from the creative agencies, including strategic planners and creative directors. That trend is driven by a desire to go beyond media planning and buying and create content for marketers, particularly online. Such hires will continue at MEC under Barker, though that didn't drive Courtier's decision to hire her.

Rather, the CEO was impressed by her energy and breadth of experience, having worked at both agencies and marketers, including Virgin Media and Allied Domecq. Before Ogilvy, she was vp of human resources at sister direct-marketing shop OgilvyOne. Given that diverse background, Courtier hopes she'll attract new types of talent.

"As an industry, we've got to do a better job than simply recirculating the same people, just round and round and round," Courtier explained. "We've got to do a better job of bringing in fresh eyes and different experiences from a talent point of view into this industry. And I think somebody like Marie-Claire Barker is going to have a very good perspective on that."

Barker, who will be based in New York, is expected to start by the end of the year.

MEC employs some 5,000 staffers at 127 offices in 90 countries. Its top accounts include Colgate-Palmolive, AT&T, Marriott, Danone, Citi and General Electric.

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