Melinda Geertz Steps Down As Leo Burnett CEO, Emma Montgomery To Take Reins

Melinda Geertz Steps Down As Leo Burnett CEO, Emma Montgomery To Take Reins
B&T Magazine
Edited by B&T Magazine

Leo Burnett has announced Melinda Geertz will be stepping down from her role as CEO of Leo Burnett Australia, with Emma Montgomery, currently CEO of the Sydney office, to succeed her.

Geertz has been in her role since 2017, and prior to that was CEO of Leo Burnett Melbourne for 15 years. She started her career with Leo Burnett in Chicago before moving to Australia.

Geertz said: “I’ve loved this agency for more than three decades. I consider myself incredibly lucky to have found a company early on in my career that gave me so much opportunity, trust and respect. Leo Burnett has been an amazing part of my life, and I’m immensely proud of what we’ve been able to build and achieve over all these years.”

Under Geertz’s leadership, the agency has been known for its culture and creative pedigree. Accolades over the years include many Agency of the Year awards, and over a thousand global creative and effectiveness awards. In 2017, the agency was named in the world’s top 10 creative agencies list by the global index of creative excellence, the Gunn Report – a title the agency had also held in the two years prior, while being named the number one agency in Australia for two years. In 2020, Leo Burnett was ranked third as the Pacific Agency of the Decade by Cannes Lions.

Publicis Groupe ANZ CEO, Michael Rebelo, said: “Melinda has had a long and inspirational career with Leo Burnett, and has been the driving leadership force behind the many years of the agency’s success. Melinda has been a true bastion of creativity, an inspirer of many and a great human to work for, and with. On behalf of Publicis Groupe, I would like to thank her for every ounce of blood, sweat and passion she has given Leo Burnett and the Groupe.

“In Melinda’s infinite wisdom, she leaves her beloved Leo Burnett in fantastic hands with Emma Montgomery stepping into the national CEO role. Emma has Leo Burnett in her veins, a global perspective and multifaceted experience having worked in both creative, media and in global chief strategy roles.”

In early March, Geertz announced the appointment of Montgomery as CEO of Leo Burnett Sydney. Montgomery will now take on the national CEO role in July.

Geertz said: “I was thrilled that Emma wanted to come ‘home’. Emma’s just the right person to step up and lead Leo Burnett. It’s the perfect time to hand over the reins – there’s so much energy, growth and momentum in the business as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Recent new business wins have included HBF, Vitasoy, The Great Barrier Reef Foundation, Destination NSW, Case IH, Saputo Dairy Australia and project work for two government departments.

On her appointment, Montgomery said: “Our agency philosophy is really simple – ‘what helps people, helps business’. Melinda has been the embodiment of that in her work, in how she has led the agency, and in the depth of impact she has driven, and I am forever grateful for having had the experience to work alongside her.

“Today, there are far more ways businesses can create value for the people they serve, using every part of their brand experience to create change in new and interesting ways. As I look to the future of Leo Burnett, I am excited to bring my own multidisciplinary, multi-market experience to our clients, strategic partners and the talented people I get to work with each day.”

Geertz added: “The hardest thing for me is saying goodbye to the remarkable people I’ve worked with – agency colleagues and client partners – who have made every day at Leo’s interesting, challenging, exciting, purposeful and very fulfilling. I’m so grateful.

“Right now, I’m focused on our people and clients. Nothing’s changed. And as soon as it’s possible, I’ll head back to the U.S. to spend time with my family there. My dad turns 100 this year, so that’s where I want to be.”

Andrew Swinand, global CEO of Leo Burnett Group said: “Melinda has played an indispensable role in Leo Burnett globally and under her leadership has cemented the agency as one of Australia’s leading creative shops. We would like to thank her for her enduring commitment to our people and our product. We look forward to seeing Leo Burnett’s strength in Australia continue under Emma’s leadership, who I have had the pleasure of working with closely in her recent role as President and Chief Strategy Officer here in Chicago.”

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