In a swiftly consolidating industry dominated by global holding companies, there remains a place for an informal global network of small- to midsize agencies, said the outgoing CEO of Worldwide Partners.
"No agency is all things to all people," said Patricia Parker Fiske, 63, who is retiring from the Aurora, Colo.-based agency consortium at year's end. "We are a better choice than the multinationals."
Fiske, who has held her post for 18 years, is part of a seven-member search committee that intends to name her replacement by midsummer. Executives with small-shop experience are preferred—"the person should know what it means to run a local agency" so that he or she understands the needs of the group's members, Fiske said.
Worldwide Partners has 64 member agencies, according to its Web site. It is essentially a networking system for regional shops, which share information on categories or cultures and pool funds for research data. The consortium is owned by its members.
Fiske is credited with shoring up Worldwide Partners in regions such as South America, where there are three member agencies, and Asia, with six member shops.
"She's walked that fine line between what small and midsized U.S. agencies need and what international agencies need," said Jeff Kahler, vice chairman and general manager of Ayres Kahler in Lincoln, Neb., a member of Worldwide Partners. "Pat has joined us on several new-business presentations. We're a 35-person shop, but we can point to nearly 100 offices."
Fiske, who has traveled to 70 countries during her tenure as CEO, said she plans to spend more time with her husband in retirement while continuing to volunteer with literacy and educational efforts.