Ed Williams, EMEA chief executive and a 12-year veteran of Edelman, has been promoted to the new international president role. He will oversee the firm’s APAC, EMEA, Canada and Latin America regions, with the leaders of those geographies reporting to him.
Williams will work to ensure that Edelman’s strategy is consistent across all international regions, while aiming to further diversify the agency’s global revenue mix. He will continue to report to Matthew J Harrington, global president and chief operating officer.
Stepping into Williams’ former role of EMEA chief executive is Arent Jan Hesselink, currently chief operating officer for Edelman EMEA.
Hesselink will oversee the firm’s 17 offices across Europe, the Middle East and Africa, also joining Edelman’s executive leadership team.
Of the new international president role, global president Harrington said: “Being a global firm today requires more attention and investment to ensure that the opportunity and complexity of markets around the world are fully recognised and that our strategy and its execution is a reflection of these realities.
“Ed’s achievements leading EMEA, coupled with his experience working across multiple geographies, makes him the ideal candidate to ensure we deepen connections across APAC, EMEA, Canada and LATAM, while strengthening our delivery against clients’ evolving needs internationally.”
In his EMEA lead role, Williams focused on integrating Edelman’s network across the region to address client needs. Under his leadership, Edelman said the EMEA business has increased by 25 per cent since 2019.
Prior to that, Williams served as chief executive of Edelman UK and Ireland, joining the business after leading corporate affairs and communications for the BBC and Reuters. He also spent five years at Brunswick, before which he had a career as a network television journalist.
Williams said: “It has been a huge privilege over the last few years to work alongside brilliant leaders in our EMEA region. Together, we have not only significantly improved performance but, critically, we’ve built a collaborative culture that sets the region up for future success.
“At our best, we should be two things at once: deeply local, while at the same time geographically agnostic, matching the right talent to the right client at the right moment.”
He added: “I am delighted to be handing the regional reins to AJ Hesselink, a leader who is deeply committed to our clients and our people.”
Hesselink joined Edelman almost eight years ago and, as chief operating officer of EMEA, has built a new operating system for the firm and led the expansion of the regional client portfolio.
Before that Hesselink led Edelman Amsterdam, which he joined after more than nine years at Philips, where he held senior leadership roles in the global integrated marketing function. He began his career as a business journalist for Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal.
Hesselink said: “As COO of the region for the past four years, it has been a privilege to partner with Ed and our excellent leadership bench to advance our strategy and client-centric operating model across EMEA.”
“There is so much opportunity for Edelman in the region. The calibre of talent, our highly collaborative culture and our strategy of international integration fill me with optimism about what we can achieve.”
The creation of Edelman’s international president role comes after a string of leadership changes at the firm this month.
First, it was announced that Hugh Taggart, co-chief executive of Edelman UK & Ireland, would be leaving the business after six years; the firm then named a new UK corporate MD among a handful of other senior EMEA promotions.