Starcom MediaVest Group global CEO Renetta McCann plans to take a one-year sabbatical from the company, leaving effective Jan. 1, 2009, but will vacate the title immediately, and be replaced by Laura Desmond, CEO of SMG/The Americas.
McCann has held the titled of global CEO since 2005. Prior to that she was CEO of SMG/The Americas, Desmond's current title.
"It is impossible to summarize the contributions Renetta continues to make to our business and to the industry at large," said Jack Klues, chairman of Publicis Group Media, of which SMG is a part. "She has earned the opportunity to step back from the global role and reassess the contributions she wants to make moving forward, and we look forward to benefiting from the perspective this sabbatical affords her."
McCann said she will tend to some family matters during her sabbatical and it will afford her the opportunity to apply "fresh eyes and perspective back to a company and an industry that has meant a lot to me over the last three decades."
Desmond has been part of the SMG organization for more than 20 years, rising through the ranks.
As CEO of SMG/The Americas, she was in charge of managing more than 2,000 people in the organization. In 2007 she launch SMG Multicultural, building on the success of its predecessor, Tapestry, and extending SMG's multicultural footprint by launching 42 Degrees at MediaVest.
Within the past year, she has also launched Pixel, a content- and experience-creation company in the digital space, and SMG Performance Marketing, a coalition of the agency's response-led units tasked with development of customer acquisition and retention.
"I was not expecting to fill the global CEO role at this point in my career," Desmond said. "But the fact that I am prepared to do it is a testament to Renetta McCann."