Karen Blackett to depart WPP for ‘other opportunities’

Karen Blackett to depart WPP for ‘other opportunities’
Blackett received an OBE in 2014

Karen Blackett, WPP’s UK president, is leaving the company to “pursue other external interests and opportunities”, the holding company said.

Blackett has held the role of UK president since October 2022 and, before that, she was UK country manager and UK CEO of WPP media arm GroupM. In total, Blackett has spent nearly 29 years at WPP, including long stints at MediaCom (now EssenceMediacom) earlier in her career.

“So, it’s the end of an era and the close of one chapter before I start the next,” Blackett wrote on LinkedIn. “Today, the news is finally out that I leave WPP. I have loyally served in a range of roles, companies and markets, and it has been my second home for almost 29 years. I will miss the amazing talented team I have had the pleasure to work with and some incredible clients who have become good friends.”

Blackett is widely known in the media industry as having pushed for a greater commitment to diversity in business and in talent. She introduced the first government-backed apprenticeship programme for the media sector in 2011. Three years later, she received an OBE for services to media and communications and in 2018 was appointed by prime minister Theresa May as race equality business champion.

More recently at WPP, she helped create a group-wide UK inclusion board to elevate best practices around diversity, equity and inclusion policies.

“I genuinely hope that, as I wave goodbye for now, I have made a difference and that the industry continues to flex and change for the better,” she added in her post, declaring: “Some much-needed time out is on the cards for now, but… I’ll be back.”

Mark Read, CEO of WPP, commented: “Karen has continually been a positive force for change in our industry and her commitment and unwavering loyalty to WPP and our clients have benefited the company in many ways. She has always championed diversity of talent as the driver of creativity and growth, and has acted as a beacon for new talent, many of whom are key leaders across our agencies and the industry today.

“On behalf of everyone at WPP, I would like to thank Karen for her incredible contribution and wish her the very best in her future endeavours.”

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