CLOSE-UP: LIVE ISSUE - NEW D&AD CHIEF EXECUTIVE. Michael Hockney mixes his own art with real business nous, Rebecca Beer writes

The appointment of Michael Hockney as the chief executive of D&AD last week raised both eyebrows and smiles in the advertising industry. It sees the juxtaposition of a no-nonsense business brain with the fluid creative culture of D&AD.

A founder and managing director of Butterfield Day Devito Hockney, Hockney left the industry in February 1994 to become the group marketing director at Christies International auction house. His reappearance in adland has generally been a well-received surprise.

He is a confident and professional businessman with a profound understanding of the industry. But he is also a complex character with a very reserved demeanour and obsessive need for order. This has not got in the way of his passion for music and the arts, however. He plays the organ and conducts at his church, and his amiable character and good humour have proven useful in persuading people to work as a team.

But despite Hockney's artistic bent, some interpret this appointment as a signal that D&AD wants to move away from its "luvvie" image and instead build a more business efficient brand.

However, Hockney says: "My interests and experience span from interior design to beautifully crafted ad campaigns, so I think it's too simplistic to say that my appointment indicates a more business-focused direction for D&AD. Rather, my experience in this area will help to build on projects such as Creativity Works, which explore links between creative excellence and business effectiveness."

Chris Powell, the chairman of BMP DDB and a former colleague of Hockney, says: "There are three things needed to fulfil this role, business nous, creative empathy and knowledge of the trade associations. Michael has all of these, as well as a good manner and extensive knowledge."

Since Hockney's predecessor took over the role, a lot has changed at D&AD. David Kester, who is moving on to head the Design Council, elevated D&AD to a respected and efficient organisation in the nine years that he ran it and it is unlikely that Hockney will make changes.

Tim Delaney, the chairman of Leagas Delaney, testifies: "Kester has come in and done a sensational job in turning it around. Hockney's challenge now is more about maintenance and sustaining its position," Delaney argues.

With regards to the future of D&AD, Hockney himself is tight-lipped. "In terms of challenges, I look forward to telling you all about that after my handover," he says.