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Erin Johnson's career had been on a constant upward trajectory for 20 years, culminating in her being named to her current job as chief communications officer for global agency JWT. She worked closely with the top executives and was, by her own account, frequently praised by the company and honored with industry awards as a top PR personality.

All that changed with the arrival of Gustavo Martinez, first as JWT's global president in 2014, and then as its new worldwide chairman and CEO—and also Johnson's boss—on Jan.

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