DDB Chicago Names Emma Montgomery CEO as She Departs Leo Burnett Australia

The search is over and DDB Chicago has its new CEO. Leo Burnett Australia chief executive officer Emma Montgomery is set to leave the agency to head back to the United States just two years after returning home to Australia.

This move marks a return to Chicago for Montgomery, who was there as Leo Burnett’s president and chief strategy officer, prior to being its senior vice president and strategy director between 2017 and 2020.

Once in the Windy City, Montgomery will work closely with chief creative officer Rodrigo Jatene and Alex Lubar, global president and chief operating officer. Of his new workmate, DDB Chicago’s Jatene said: “Having a partner like Emma will make us that much more fierce. She’s a genuine champion of creativity and culture and we are lucky to have her unique energy and talent.”

Lubar added, “We are super fortunate to add another dynamic leader to our DDB Chicago team. Emma brings a unique depth of experience, authenticity, strategic acumen, and a strong passion for creativity, clients, and culture that is beyond inspiring.”

“She’s a proven leader who creates impact, strengthens cultures, and fuels client growth. It will be great to have her back in the Chicago market, this time in our camp.”

“I am incredibly delighted to be joining Alex, Rodrigo and the DDB Chicago team at such a pivotal time for creativity and bold thinking,” Montgomery said in a statement. “It’s both an honour and thrill to be contributing to the next chapter of this iconic agency’s history.”

Montgomery’s Road Back to Chicago

Montgomery spent a year at TBWA\Worldwide in Los Angeles during the first stage of the pandemic in early 2020 as its global co-chief strategy officer before heading home to Sydney and Leo Burnett in March 2021.

With more than 20 years’ experience, Montgomery has partnered with major brands including Bank of America, Molson Coors, Kraft, Aldi, and Bank of America, and her work has been recognized at Cannes and the Clio Awards.

In 2022, Montgomery earned the number 18 spot on the B&T Women in Media Power List.

What’s Next for Burnett and DDB

On Montgomery’s exit from Leo Burnett Australia, Michael Rebelo, CEO of Publicis Groupe ANZ, shared that “We have been fortunate to have Emma lead Leo Burnett in Australia, working closely with the leadership team to ensure the agency’s continued growth and success. “Over the past couple of years, Leos has welcomed a number of new clients while also being recognized with award-winning campaigns.”

The expectation is that a replacement CEO will be announced shortly. Kate Silver, Melbourne GM, and James Walker-Smith, Sydney GM, will co-lead the agency in the interim.

As for DDB Chicago, Montgomery is expected to move to the Midwest metropolis later this Summer.

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