Succession management

If you're looking for a new chief executive, where do you start? Do you opt for experience, vision for the future, or do you hire someone with a proven track record? Here are 12 examples of the new CEOs-in-waiting.

ALEX KUROPATWA - Joint managing director, Delaney Lund Knox Warren & Partners

Biog: A stint working in a diamond mine apart, Kuropatwa has spent much of his career at the client-centric DLKW & Partners. He's currently running the agency's labour-intensive (and lucrative) Morrisons brief, in addition to his agency management duties.

Strengths: Numbers, numbers, numbers. Kuropatwa loves them, and has a natural aptitude for the business side of agency life (he's got a Harvard MBA). This has not only helped him to run an effective operation, but it also impresses like-minded clients. He's known as a fair manager who is popular with staff.

Weaknesses: Kuropatwa does not come across as the quintessential adman. Shallow though it may be, he could do with learning to present himself as a slick operator.

Professional coup: Has led the digital charge at DLKW & Partners for the past year, building a 40-strong team that accounts for 20 per cent of the agency's income.

LEE WRIGHT - Managing director, Dare

Biog: Wright is a true digital native, having started her career at Modem in 1993. She rose through the digital agency ranks at Tribal DDB and Grand Union, before joining Dare in 2005.

Strengths: Wright is an extremely likeable personality, something that goes down well with staff and clients. Her extensive digital experience is rare among managers.

Weaknesses: Her self-deprecating humour makes her approachable, but she needs to drop the "I'm an idiot" act if she's going to impress FTSE 100 bosses.

Professional coup: Being part of the team that won back Campaign's Digital Agency of the Year title for 2007. Wright emphasises how this shows that incredible growth has not led to a reduction in business quality.

IAN PEARMAN - Managing director, Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO

Biog: Pearman is an AMV BBDO lifer. He is central to the agency's successful new-business performance, and was promoted to the role of managing director towards the end of 2007.

Strengths: Pearman has gravitas, loves his job, is intelligent and knows how to manage upwards, sideways and downwards. A true management player.

Weaknesses: Still in his early thirties, Pearman hasn't got that many years' experience under his belt.

Professional coup: Being named as the managing director of the largest, most creative and most culturally consistent agency in the UK.

CHRIS HIRST - Managing director, Grey

Biog: Hirst was plucked from relative obscurity at Fallon by Garry Lace, who made him the managing director at Grey in 2003. He's toughed it out through management and ownership changes since then.

Strengths: He's a dependable and ego-free manager who leads a very loyal team.

Weaknesses: Needs to sharpen his edges a bit. Very few people can make it to the top and be kind.

Professional coup: Hirst is proud of creating an agency culture where people enjoy working, and, setting up an infrastructure to supply 360-degree solutions for clients.

CARRIE HINDMARSH - Joint managing director, M&C Saatchi

Biog: Hindmarsh has Saatchis in her blood. She joined the Charlotte Street agency in 1991, and moved across to help found M&C Saatchi in 1995.

Strengths: She's known for being a good listener and is popular with senior clients. Hindmarsh has got a steely and determined side, which is kept well hidden.

Weaknesses: She's backwards in coming forwards, something that has left her external profile a little lower than it should be.

Professional coup: Retaining the Transport for London account in a pitch and seeing it turn into the agency's most strategically and creatively awarded piece of business.

RICHARD ALFORD - Joint managing director, M&C Saatchi

Biog: After an eight-day stint at St Luke's, Alford joined M&C Saatchi in 1995, its first year of business. He looks after the agency's Royal Bank of Scotland business, in addition to his management responsibilities.

Strengths: Alford possesses a very quick mind and an enviable "on-his-feet" fluency. He's good at inspiring people and always tells the truth.

Weaknesses: He polarises opinion. His truth-telling can offend. His role as the court jester makes him fun to be with, but can also limit his gravitas.

Professional coup: Extending M&C's relationship with RBS from the NatWest account to the £100-million-plus billing business it is today.

RUSSELL PLACE - Chief strategic officer, Universal McCann

Biog: Place grew up doing media in advertising agencies (WCRS and Saatchi & Saatchi). He joined Universal McCann in 2002 and was promoted to the position of chief strategic officer in 2006.

Strengths: His strategic thinking is a hit with clients; he's an interesting person to talk to. Good leadership skills also mean he runs a loyal team.

Weaknesses: Having worked through the strategy route, he's commercially less proven than some of his peer group.

Professional coup: Place is proud of working on the Saatchi & Saatchi Camelot launch, but offers Universal's Polaris World win last year as a more recent "proudest moment".

WILL ORR - Managing director, WCRS

Biog: Orr has built his career at agencies with strong creative reputations: Bartle Bogle Hegarty, Leagas Delaney, Mother, and now WCRS, which appointed him as managing director in 2005. Since then, he has been a pivotal part of the management team that has kept WCRS's creative and pitching standards in rude health.

Strengths: Talk about a safe pair of hands. He can run a business extremely effectively, and is respected by his staff.

Weaknesses: He needs to develop more of an Orr brand. At the moment, he's a bit forgettable.

Professional coup: Being a member of the team that took WCRS into the top-ten billings league for the first time in the agency's 28-year history.

SARAH GOLD - Managing partner, CHI & Partners

Biog: Gold comes from the University of Lowe, where she worked for eight years before joining the six-month-old Clemmow Hornby Inge. At CHI & Partners, she's played a crucial role in the agency's formidable new-business record and its rapid evolution into a mature business.

Strengths: Gold has got a strong personality, which enables her to make her mark in any forum. She's a workaholic, extremely committed, and has a keen eye for detail.

Weaknesses: Gold needs to extend her fascination for the advertising industry into the wider business world.

Professional coup: Helping to make the agency's post-sale restructure work. The agency went from being three separate companies to one completely integrated, full-service shop with a single bottom line.

PAUL LAWSON - Group managing director, Leo Burnett

Biog: Lawson started in media at Allen Brady & Marsh in 1985. He's worked in many agencies, but spent the longest time at WCRS. He completed a Sloan School of Management MBA in 2001. He was handed the group managing director's role at Leo Burnett last autumn.

Strengths: He's got a very quick mind that enables him to predict and prevent problems before they occur. He's fun to spend time with and approaches his position with energy and enthusiasm.

Weaknesses: Lawson's sense of humour will have you in stitches, he can't resist a good gag. However, this can make him hard to take seriously at the time.

Professional coup: Landing the group managing director role, which Lawson believes suits his belief in "total communications" owing to his multidiscipline experience.

JONATHAN ALLAN - Managing director, OMD

Biog: Allan joined OMD as a graduate aged 21. He bought and planned media before taking the new-business position that led to senior management positions.

Strengths: Allan is charismatic and outgoing, so it follows that he's strong on new business and enjoys good relationships with senior clients.

Weaknesses: His casual demeanour (un-shaven and often dressed in jeans) limits his gravitas. His long stint at OMD has the effect of narrowing his experience.

Professional coup: Allan is most proud of his loyalty to OMD - rare in this day and age.

BEN FENNELL - Managing director, Bartle Bogle Hegarty

Biog: Once he'd rejected a career as a rugby professional, Fennell's commitment to BBH became unswerving. He's served the network in Asia and London, and is imbued with the slick business practices of one of the world's best agencies.

Strengths: He understands his clients' language, is determined, ambitious, and capable. Undaunted by digital, he's installed a future-facing operation at BBH in London.

Weaknesses: He's in such a hurry to get what he wants, you can feel somewhat railroaded following a meeting with Fennell.

Professional coup: Being part of the team to set up BBH Shanghai. This involved launching with business won in a pitch, securing a trading licence, hiring a management team and writing an ambitious business plan.