Internal Memo: CMO Jess Greenwood Is Leaving R/GA for Apple

By Erik Oster Comment

Another senior leader is saying goodbye to R/GA.

R/GA global chief marketing officer Jess Greenwood is leaving the agency at the end of 2020 for a position at Apple, where longtime R/GA CCO Nick Law landed last year after a year as global CCO for Publicis Groupe.

Greenwood announced her impending departure in an internal memo to R/GA employees this afternoon. She called it a “brutally difficult decision” and explained that “there was nowhere else I would have left R/GA for.” She also said she believes in the new direction R/GA CEO Sean Lyons is taking the company as R/GA undergoes a “fundamental” repositioning of its business.

Greenwood also acknowledged that the timing of the move was unfortunate, following the departures of global chief innovation officer Saneel Radia, global head of brand Mike Rigby and vice chairman, global chief strategy officer Barry Wacksman to form an innovation consultancy, along with global head of operations Colby Dennison, vp, business transformation Philip Rackin and R/GA New York vp, head of strategy Rachel Mercer.

She added that she’d be leaving R/GA’s marketing communications team in “the extremely capable hands” of R/GA U.S. senior director, marketing and communications Kelly Harrison, executive director, marketing and communications, EMEA and APAC George Griffiths and global executive director, marketing and growth Genevieve George and new business with svp, global managing director, growth and development Alex Sehnaou. Additionally, Greenwood explained that she would spend the next three months closing out her “nine-year cycle” at R/GA and doing what she could to help R/GA prepare as the agency heads into its next phase.

Greenwood said the need for change is true both externally and internally, adding, “The curious, talented people who work here grow and get interested in new things; so the company grows and gets interested in new things.”

“I remain in daily awe of all of your talent and ambition, and I cannot wait to see what you do with the next cycle,” Greenwood said.

She closed the memo by saying, “Thank you to each of you for your special flavor of R/GA magic; but especially to Sean, Bob, Barry, Tiff, Ben and Tom, all of whom know that the walls aren’t real, but leave the doors open anyway.”

Here’s the memo in full:

Hello, all.

I wanted you to hear from me that I’ll be leaving R/GA at the end of the year.

Given all the changes we’ve just been through, I’m aware that this isn’t ideal timing. However, the trade press is as the trade press does, and it was important to both Sean and me that you hear the news directly. I’m going to take a client side role over at Apple, and there was nowhere else I would have left R/GA for.

I’ll be leaving the marcomms team in the extremely capable hands of Kelly Harrison, George Griffiths and Genevieve George; and new business with Alex Sehnaoui. I’ll also be here for the next three months, closing out my nine year cycle, and doing whatever I can to help set R/GA up for the next nine years.

This has been a brutally difficult decision, as I believe so strongly in Sean’s mission, in the new positioning, and in the amazing leadership team around the world’s ability to deliver on it. The company that designs the more human future is right here.

I know we talk a lot about change, but I’ve always found it interesting that we frame it in external terms. The world changes, so we change. However, the same is also true seen from the inside. The curious, talented people who work here grow and get interested in new things; so the company grows and gets interested in new things.

R/GA is what it is because we all have permission to change it. The walls aren’t real, and they never were.

In my time here, I learned how to be a writer, a new business person, a strategist and a marketer. I had ideas that nobody said no to. I helped to make wonderful things in impossible timeframes with brilliant people, mostly while laughing my head off. And I got paid to do it. What an astonishing privilege. What a place to grow up.

I remain in daily awe of all of your talent and ambition, and I cannot wait to see what you do with the next cycle. Keep pushing. Invent better. Celebrate difference, always. Keep it simple.

Thank you to each of you for your special flavor of R/GA magic; but especially to Sean, Bob, Barry, Tiff, Ben and Tom, all of whom know that the walls aren’t real, but leave the doors open anyway.

Your turn,

Jess

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