Laura Desmond Steps Down From Publicis Groupe

The agency's CRO and former SMG global CEO won't return post-sabbatical

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Publicis Groupe announced today Laura Desmond will step down as chief revenue officer of Publicis Groupe, effective Dec. 31, 2016.

Desmond took a leave of absence from her role beginning July 1, 2016, citing a family issue for her time off and will not return once her sabbatical concludes in January 2017. During her time away, Rishad Tobaccowala, Publicis Groupe's strategy and growth officer, took on Desmond's day-to-day responsibilities and will continue to hold those duties when Desmond leaves at the end of the year. Tobaccowala has previously worked at other Publicis agencies including Leo Burnett and Starcom.

In a statement Desmond noted that while the family health issue has improved, "This sabbatical allowed me to consider where my greatest entrepreneurial and leadership opportunity existed. After thoughtful reflection and discussions with Maurice, I have concluded this is the right step for me. I leave the Groupe with nothing but thanks and appreciation for the opportunities and support I've received throughout my career and during my leave." 

"We are all very grateful to Laura for her many important contributions to Publicis Groupe and are sorry to see her go. I know that Laura will continue to be as incredibly successful in the future as she has been with us. With my colleagues of the management board we wish her only the very best," Maurice Levy, Publicis Groupe chairman and CEO, said in a statement.

Desmond earned the chief revenue officer role in December of last year when Levy announced major plans to restructure the entire network, which moved Desmond from global CEO of Starcom Mediavest Group to her current position.

In the chief revenue officer role, a role created with the restructuring last year, Desmond was responsible for "developing strategies that catalyze Groupe transformation and business transformation through the alchemy of creativity and technology." During her time at SMG, Desmond was credited with doubling the size of the agency as well as building some key relationships with clients including Samsung, Visa, Twitter and Coca-Cola.

@ktjrichards Katie Richards is a staff writer for Adweek.