Formerly the head of client services, Nolan is the agency's first managing director since Marco Scognamiglio was promoted to the role of chief executive in January 2005. He has since been made the agency's group chief executive.
Scognamiglio said: "While I will remain as chief executive, given my wider responsibilities, it is essential that I have top-class management support and there is strong day-to-day leadership of the agency. I am delighted that Sam will be taking the agency on to the next stage of development."
Nolan began her career client-side at Commercial Union before joining WWAV in 1995 as a senior account manager.
Since joining the agency, she has been on client secondments at T-Mobile and Sains-bury's and has worked on integrated brand launches for both Royal & Sun Alliance and More Th>n.
"Sam has wide-ranging client experience, strong man-management skills and has been instrumental in ensuring we have a best-in-class client-service offering," Scognamiglio added.