Rufus Leonard founder Neil Svensen picks strategy chief as CEO heir

Laurence Parkes will retain some of his CSO duties.

Rufus Leonard (clockwise from top left): Svensen, Parkes, Cabra and Worthington
Rufus Leonard (clockwise from top left): Svensen, Parkes, Cabra and Worthington

Rufus Leonard co-founder Neil Svensen is stepping down as chief executive after 30 years and has named chief strategy officer Laurence Parkes as his replacement.

Svensen is taking on the new role of chair and will remain an "active member of the agency and board", as well as concentrating on working with key current and new clients. Svensen founded the agency in 1989 alongside Darrel Worthington, who is also chief experience officer.

Parkes joined Rufus Leonard as the agency’s first chief strategy officer in 2016 and will not be directly replaced. He will retain some of his CSO responsibilities while delegating oversight of the agency’s strategic output to head of strategy Ross Timms.

The Farringdon-based independent agency has 120 employees and a mission to "create transformational brand experiences". Its latest accounts for 2017 reported a £327,000 pre-tax profit and a turnover of £11.6m (down 3% year on year).

Having repositioned the agency as "brand experience engineers" in 2017, Parkes is credited with reframing Rufus Leonard’s services under "brand experience". He launched products such as the Brand Experience Index and has led on briefs for Pizza Express, Lloyds Banking Group, the AA and Stagecoach. 

Before Rufus Leonard, Parkes worked at AKQA Amsterdam, Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO and Bartle Bogle Hegarty London. 

Svensen said: "Throughout his career and his time at Rufus, Laurence has proven himself a powerful strategic operator and passionate supporter of client transformation. He shares our founding vision and our values, and his background will be critical to bolstering our structure, solutions and services, making him the ideal choice to lead Rufus Leonard into a new era." 

Rufus Leonard has also promoted managing partner Ale Cabra to client services director and board member. She joined from Razorfish in 2016 and led a client portfolio that includes London Business School and the British Red Cross. 

The agency’s board now comprises Svensen, Parkes, Worthington, Cabra, chief operating officer Will Rowe and chief technology officer Peter Barker.

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