Nicola Mendelsohn, Facebook’s VP for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, will lead the platforms’ Global Business Group, a role left vacant by Carolyn Everson in June. Mendelsohn has been serving as VP of the global business group in an interim capacity since then.
The new role makes Mendelsohn the top global ad exec at Facebook, responsible for steering client relationships for the platform which rakes in more than 25% of global digital ad expenditures annually, according to eMarketer. In 2020, Facebook made $84 billion in global ad revenue across Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp.
It is understood Mendelsohn, who is British, will move from London to New York in the new role. Facebook said it will look for a replacement for Mendelsohn in EMEA.
“Since the first day I walked through the door at Facebook eight and a half years ago, I have been so grateful for the opportunity to do work I care about, with colleagues I adore, and partners and clients who inspire me to put our best foot forward on their behalf every day,” Mendelsohn said in a statement. “I believe deeply that our platforms are a force for good, and I see our mission play out in innumerable ways every day.”
As the face of the company for advertisers, Mendelsohn will have to balance maintaining important client relationships while navigating ongoing public scrutiny in light of The Wall Street Journal’s explosive Facebook Files series and subsequent Congressional testimony from former employee and whistleblower Frances Haugen.
Mendelsohn, however, is up to the task. Having built her career agency-side, she has fostered deep relationships and respect with clients and agencies across the globe. That trust will be critical, as she has big shoes to fill behind Everson, who was time and again able to smooth over Facebook’s ongoing foils with its largest advertiser clients.
“Fantastic news that Nicola is taking on this highly important global role — she's exactly the right person for the job,” said Martin Sorrell, founder of S4 Capital, in a statement. “We’re very proud that a British woman will lead Facebook’s global client relationships.”
Lindsay Pattison, chief client officer, WPP, said: “I have always been a massive fan of Nicola. She takes nothing for granted and works so very hard. She takes on hard conversations, she pushes herself and others to be better, taking accountability and acting with empathy and humility. Those qualities are needed more than ever and valued by us and our clients. On top of a massive day job, she also has been fiercely committed for years to gender equality and now wider inequity, and has created an inspiring charity in the Follicular Lymphoma Foundation that, like Nicola, refuses to accept the status quo.”
Keith Weed, president of the UK Ad Association, added: “I have enjoyed knowing and working with Nicola over many years. She knows the business and partners very well and is a smart business person with an excellent understanding of the industry. Nicola will excel in this role.”
Before joining Facebook in 2013, Mendelsohn enjoyed a two-decade career at UK creative agencies, culminating in a two-year term as president of agency body the IPA.
She began her career at Bartle Bogle Hegarty, where she remained for 12 years, picking up a reputation as a “BBH lifer” and being named by Campaign as the UK’s number one new business director in 2002.
Two years after that accolade, though, she jumped ship to Grey London – which was less than a year away from being acquired by Martin Sorrell’s growing juggernaut WPP. Later in 2004 she became deputy chairman at the agency, following the exit of the controversial chief executive Garry Lace.
In 2008, Mendelsohn became an equity partner in Karmarama in her most recent agency-side role. During her five years there, the agency – owned since 2016 by Accenture Interactive – became the fastest-growing independent shop in the UK.
In her inaugural speech as IPA President, Mendelsohn called for the UK’s agencies to create “a new generation of creative pioneers,” and pointed out the UK public’s enthusiasm for new technologies such as smartphones (this was the time of the iPhone 4) and watching TV online.
Perhaps this emphasis caught the eye of Facebook, who brought her on board in 2013 to replace Joanna Shields, who went on to serve as UK minister for internet safety and security, under prime minister David Cameron.
In 2018, Mendelsohn revealed that she had been diagnosed with incurable follicular lymphoma, a form of cancer, and the following year, became chairperson of the Follicular Lymphoma Foundation, but she has continued working.
As well as her Facebook and charity roles, Mendelsohn has served as a non-executive director at Diageo since 2014, and as industry chair of the Creative Industries Council and director of the Women’s Prize for Fiction.
Despite immense challenges facing the company, Mendelsohn is upbeat and positive about Facebook and what it can provide to advertisers and the world.
She said: “From where I sit, that looks like people coming together to donate to nonprofits, finding common ground across shared interests, and staying connected to the people and businesses that matter most to them.
“And one of the things I’ve always enjoyed most is sitting with businesses of all sizes and helping them figure out how to use our tools to help them grow — and how to do it in a way that serves not only their business goals, but equally the lives and livelihoods of the people behind them. There’s no one who takes this work more seriously than we do, and I’m proud day in and day out of what we’ve accomplished.”