OMD UK hires Carat's Ashworth as chief strategy officer

OMD UK has poached Carat's Alison Ashworth to be the Omnicom media agency's chief strategy officer, while managing partner Laura Fenton has been promoted to managing director.

OMD UK: Ashworth and Fenton
OMD UK: Ashworth and Fenton

Ashworth, Carat’s global strategy partner, most recently worked on the Dentsu media agency’s Coca-Cola account. 

At OMD, Ashworth will be tasked with overseeing strategic planning across clients, and will lead on OMD’s new Business Intelligence function, as well as promoting creative thinking and data-driven innovation in the agency’s plans.

She only joined Carat last October after seven years at WPP in senior global planning roles at Mindshare (2014-17) where she worked in the global Jaguar Land Rover team, and J Walter Thompson (2010-14), where she was global group planning director.

Ashworth’s appointment comes after Hamid Habib, the chief strategy and innovation officer, left to join Publicis Groupe rival Starcom earlier this year. Rian Shah, the previous chief strategy officer, left OMD UK in 2017 to join Starcom's sister agency Zenith. Habib and Shah had worked together at OMD for four years, having previously been strategy partners at Havas. 

From graduate to MD

Meanwhile, Laura Fenton has been promoted to managing director, replacing Aki Mandhar who was appointed by Telegraph Media Group last year as chief operating officer.

Fenton joined OMD UK as a graduate in 2004 and has risen through the ranks within Omnicom Media Group to become managing partner since July 2017. She was client partner for three years prior to that. 

As managing director she will be responsible for driving and developing the day-to-day business and delivering best-in-class services for clients.

Ashworth and Fenton will each report to OMD UK chief executive Dan Clays.

In April the agency also promoted chief client officer Jess Roberts to chief agency development officer and has named managing partner (investment) Christian Byron as chief operating officer. Head of planning Vicky Fox and head of OMD Create Gareth Orr have also been promoted to sit on the agency leadership team.

Clays said: "I am absolutely delighted to welcome Alison to the OMD family. She brings with her a fantastic mix of media, advertising and client-side experience and is a brilliant cultural fit for OMD UK.

"I’m also thrilled to be able to promote from within our own agency, showcasing the already excellent talent and leadership that exists and has been central to our success over the past 12 months."