Editorial: Wall's strengths will be tested to the full at Lowe

Michael Wall says of his new appointment as Lowe Worldwide's chief executive that "it's going to be a challenge". Most industry onlookers would say that barely begins to describe what he's about to take on.

Wall, a founder of Fallon London, who comes to Lowe after a stint heading the BBDO operation in Portugal, is used to being associated with success. Now he must lead a network where that has long been a conspicuous absentee.

The London office, in particular, has been enfeebled by devastating account losses, management infighting and a talent haemorrhage. Does Wall know what he's letting himself in for? The Lowe move will clearly be a significant leap for somebody used to the close-knit atmosphere of Fallon and who must now forge a new set of close relationships.

In his favour is his reputation for excellent people skills, which should help bring some much-needed stability. His predecessor, Steve Gatfield, possessed formidable strengths in logistics and strategy and there's no doubt he hands over a network much leaner and fitter to face an evolving communications environment.

Gatfield, though, was never able to overcome the perception that he was uncomfortable and distant with his senior management. Now, Wall must build on Gatfield's foundations by creating a workforce that isn't only motivated, but is clear about what it's supposed to be doing.

The problem is that, when it comes to new business and marketing, Lowe has performed so many U-turns that client prospects must be totally bemused. Last year, Gatfield was declaring that the real money was in network clients. Now Lowe claims it wants to refocus on the UK market.

One thing's for sure - whatever Wall is being paid, he'll earn it.

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