8 Aug 2022

M&C Saatchi: Finding A Chief People Officer For A Global Communications Network

Over the last 27 years, M&C Saatchi, has grown rapidly and today spans far wider than just its advertising heritiage. Mainly via start-ups, but also through acquisitions, the organisation had amassed a huge stable of businesses. The organisation had become highly successful but also fragmented. The agency’s leaders declared a change in strategy; to create a more connected group of companies.  They recognised that a global Chief People Officer was required to lead the people dynamics of that change. It was a challenging remit – and M&C Saatchi wanted to choose from the broadest possible pool of talent. In 2021, Green Park was commissioned to find a diverse shortlist. The chosen candidate is now in place and already making an impact, which you can read about here.

 Green Park’s integrated DEI and Executive Search services clinched a competitive pitch

  • Rigorous ten-week project delivered in partnership with clients’ leaders
  • Shortlist of seven strong, diverse candidates delivered
  • Chief People Officer role successfully filled by highly competent candidate


The Challenge

Over 2,500 employees and in excess of 40 different brands. The multi-national M&C Saatchi Group is a titan of the advertising industry, with offices in 23 countries worldwide. In 2021, the Group invited Green Park to pitch for a key resourcing project along with several competitors. The goal? To recruit a Chief People Officer who could bring a vast organisation together.

As M&C Saatchi had grown, it had started or acquired a multitude of brands and businesses. As a result it required a Chief People Officer to unify HR policies and procedures and create an overarching culture and people strategy.  An exciting but sizeable challenge, finding the right candidate was crucial.

One of the key demands from M&C Saatchi was a shortlist full of diverse talent. Our pitch proposal therefore introduced our Diversity, Inclusion, Culture & Ethics (DICE) Consultancy and explained how it supports other Green Park services, providing joined-up expertise. This integrated offer won Green Park the pitch, with M&C Saatchi attracted to the breadth and depth of the business’s scope.


The Project

To build an in-depth understanding of the role and the ideal candidate, Green Park began by carrying out interviews with key stakeholders. From these conversations, a definite profile emerged. The new Chief People Officer would have to build a centralised function from the ground up; drive business strategy through People strategy; and work with CEOs in different countries around the world. They would therefore need excellent influencing skills to get a host of senior leaders on board. Sound HR skills and knowledge would be essential, too. The candidate would need to lead Diversity, Ethics and Inclusion (DEI) and put in place a new Rewards and Recognition structure. And of course, they would need to thrive in advertising’s cut-and-thrust culture and an industry in the throes of transformation.

Green Park’s team took this information and set about talent mapping across sectors and industries, leveraging extensive networks. Throughout the process, we remained in close contact with senior leaders at M&C Saatchi, providing regular updates and making sure the process remained transparent and open.  


The Results

The final shortlist featured seven names:  four females; three ethnic minority candidates; and one LGBTQ+ candidate. The selection process was rigorous, with multiple interviews reducing the shortlist to four. After ten weeks of intense research, analysis, search and selection, a candidate was chosen: Mark Dickinson-Keen. A highly regarded professional, he brings extensive experience in the fast-moving Telecommunications industry. Already making a difference Mark has been creating a global people strategy that covers 40 different companies in 23 countries. Focusing on the alignment of the executive remuneration agenda and building a central, global people team, Mark has been navigating the nuances of which elements of the people strategy and function benefit from being unified and global versus what should be localised into the different businesses, as a point of unique difference. Not an easy task but one that Mark Dickinson-Keen is up for.


Take the next step: find out more about the work of Green Park’s Executive Search Practice.


Jo Sweetland caught up with Mark Dickinson-Keen to find out how he is doing in his role. Read the full interview here.

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