Internal Memo: R/GA Global CEO Sean Lyons Addresses Senior Leadership Departures and ‘The R/GA of 2020’

By Erik Oster Comment

Last Friday, CMO Jess Greenwood became the latest senior leader to depart the agency when she left R/GA to join Apple, where longtime R/GA CCO Nick Law landed last year following a year as global CCO for Publicis Groupe.

Greenwood’s departure followed a group of R/GA senior leaders leaving to form an innovation consultancy, including global head of operations Colby Dennison; R/GA New York vp, head of strategy Rachel Mercer; vp, business transformation Philip Rackin; global chief innovation officer Saneel Radia; global head of brand Mike Rigby; and vice chairman, global chief strategy officer Barry Wacksman. In a statement at the time, R/GA positioned the agency as undergoing a “fundamental” repositioning of its operating model. Like many agencies around the industry, R/GA also struggled with the coronavirus pandemic’s business impact, laying off 10% of staff across the U.S. in April.

In an internal memo sent to R/GA employees at the end of last week, following Greenwood announcing her departure, R/GA global CEO Sean Lyons reinforced that message.

“The R/GA of 2020 looks nothing like the R/GA of 1977 or 1986, nothing like the R/GA I joined in 2003, and candidly, after the past nine transformative months, nothing like the R/GA in 2019 when I began in this role,” he said at the opening of the memo, adding that R/GA embraces change “because that is where opportunity lives.”

While acknowledging the sadness in seeing longtime colleagues leave R/GA, Lyons said that he was confident the agency’s employees would “build on the foundations they’ve created or create entirely new foundations of your own.”

Lyons called R/GA “a global network of talented, brilliant people at every level, within every discipline and department,” adding, “The sum is always greater than its parts.” He also referenced comments made in a town hall last week around adding 50 new clients in 2020.

“As we roll up our sleeves and write this next chapter together, we must remind ourselves every day that it will be written through our work,” he concluded. “And the work is driven by every single person at R/GA, whether you’ve been here for three months or 10 years.”

Here’s the memo in full:

Hello everyone,

The R/GA of 2020 looks nothing like the R/GA of 1977 or 1986, nothing like the R/GA I joined in 2003, and candidly, after the past 9 transformative months, nothing like the R/GA in 2019 when I began in this role. We understand change, embrace change because that is where opportunity lives.

While it is sad to see our colleagues leave who have been with us for many years, I know you will build on the foundations they’ve created or create entirely new foundations of your own.

Throughout our history R/GA has played an outsized role in business and culture. Over the past two decades as a catalyst in the technological revolution that has occurred through the expansive growth of the internet and businesses built on top of it. This is both through direct work with our clients but also through the impact our alumni have on this vast ecosystem. Through our work and our people, we influence the direction of these companies and their products, which are used by billions of people. R/GA is the Bauhaus of Silicon Valley.

R/GA is a global network of talented, brilliant people at every level, within every discipline and department. Our Bauhaus foundation creates space that rewards collaboration and discovery. We seek the creative opportunities in new platforms, new technologies, and new teams of people beyond our own practices. The sum is always greater than its parts.

As I’ve mentioned during our town hall last week we’ve added 50 new clients this year that represent new relationships and new creative opportunities. As we roll-up our sleeves and write this next chapter together, we must remind ourselves every day that it will be written through our work. And the work is driven by every single person at R/GA, whether you’ve been here for 3 months or 10 years. Thank you.

Sean

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