Laura Desmond
May 17, 2013

A view from the top: Laura Desmond

Overseeing 7,700 employees in 132 offices across the world means Laura Desmond, chief executive at Starcom MediaVest Group, is often in airport lounges more than her own kitchen. But travel, she says, has always been a personal passion.

A view from the top: Laura Desmond

Last week, I was in Moscow to meet with the agency team and a few of our clients to develop future strategic plans. A highlight was meeting with ten of our rising stars in Russia across all our brands. I like meeting with people who understand our business from the ground level up.

I flew from Moscow to Paris for a meeting with Publicis Groupe’s P12 Executive Committee led by the chairman and chief executive, Maurice Lévy. Maurice and I have a shared passion for creating a high-performance culture and encouraging risk-taking. It is better to take a risk, fail and learn than stay complacent.

In Paris, I also had my monthly meeting with my global management team, where we set strategy for the company and everyone provides updates. This month, we focused on our digital strategy and had a deep dive with the leaders of Convonix, the digital consulting agency in India that we acquired earlier this year.

Although my travel schedule can be hectic, I have a firm commitment to making family and friends a priority. I believe this approach creates the balance I need to keep such a pace at work.

Over the weekend, I saw an incredible hip-hop adaptation of Othello at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, followed by dinner at a restaurant in Chinatown with friends. On Sunday afternoon, before boarding a plane for London, Adam Bain, the president of global revenue at Twitter, and I did an interview with the Financial Times to announce Starcom MediaVest Group’s deal with Twitter. Discussions for this partnership took place over the past three to four months.

I arrived in London on Monday morning to prepare for my presentation at Publicis Groupe’s investor day. I spent the afternoon talking to reporters about the Twitter news and meeting with clients. I had a great dinner with some of our UK team.

On Tuesday, I attended the investor day and presented on our focus on innovating and a commitment to put consumers in the centre.

On Wednesday, I returned to Chicago to announce the integration of ShareThis’ Social Quality Index into SMG’s comScore Media Metrix along with my global heads of research and digital. This brings behavioural data centre stage as planning currency.

On Thursday, I flew to Cincinnati to meet with Procter & Gamble, but was able to meet with my trainer first. We work out three times a week, which is sacred to me when I’m in Chicago.

I ended the week back in Chicago, judging the Midwest regional finals of the White House Fellows programme. This is a special programme run by the White House for more than 50 years. It was an amazing day of inspiration and ideas. It is an honour to meet and spend time with some of the best and brightest people who want to give back to our country and their community through public service. It is one of my favourite days of the year.

So, it was a truly exciting week for the company – building on existing partnerships, charting new courses with new partners and continuing to plan the future with the best clients and people in the business.

Laura Desmond is the global chief executive of Starcom MediaVest Group

This article was first published on

Campaign India

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