"It was always understood that I would stay in the job between three and five years and the succession was mapped out from that point," Isaac told Campaign in a phone interview. "Miles Young wanted me to stay five years, but I was confident from the beginning that Paul Heath [CEO of Ogilvy & Mather] would be more than ready to take over in three years."
According to a statement by Ogilvy, Isaac's retirement was one of the reasons behind the recent senior management restructuring.
While Isaac will continue to be based out of Hong Kong, he will be spending more time visiting Bates offices around the world.
"We spent quite a lot of 2011 working on the new Bates brand and the concept of 'changengage'," Isaac said. "It was launched in October last year and will continue full steam ahead in that direction.
Isaac started life in advertising with Bates London in 1972, "so this makes a nice bookend", he added.