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VMLY&R Strengthens Leadership Team across North America

Advertising Agency
New York, USA
Jen McDonald has been promoted to chief client officer, North America as Najla Haddad and Michelle Derderian also join the company
VMLY&R has announced three leadership moves designed to deliver on the agency’s strategic growth priorities and enhance its ability to drive significant value for its clients. 

Jen McDonald (above) has been promoted to chief client officer, North America. In her new role, Jen will oversee client engagement across all U.S. offices and is responsible for driving growth, developing talent, and delivering and integrating VMLY&R’s evolving offerings. In addition to this remit, Jen will continue to lead the Wendy’s business for VMLY&R. 

The agency has also appointed Najla Haddad as executive director, client engagement, based in New York, and Michelle Derderian as executive director, client engagement, based in Chicago. 

“As an agency, we believe in the power of creating culturally connected brands, and that requires leaders who can partner with our clients to navigate the changing tides, create purposeful differentiation, and drive business results,” said Chuck Searle, VMLY&R global chief client officer. “Jen, Najla, and Michelle are truly the embodiment of this, and we’re thrilled to welcome a powerhouse of talent into their new roles.” 

Jen McDonald will oversee client engagement across U.S. offices as chief client officer, North America. Throughout her career, McDonald has established a track record of nurturing long-standing client relationships and building world-class teams. Jen has led a portfolio of the agency's foremost client partners during her 11-year tenure at VMLY&R, including NAPA AUTO PARTS, Dell, Sam’s Club, Navistar, Stella Artois and Wendy’s. Her strategic focus and emphasis on creating connected brands has helped generate culturally relevant, effective, and award-winning work that has been widely recognised by the industry’s top awards, including Cannes Lions, One Show, CLIOs, Effies and more. Prior to joining VMLY&R in 2008, she served as SVP of brand and partner marketing at Revolution Health, a player in the health information space that was later sold to a top health publisher. She also held marketing leadership roles at AOL, XM Radio and a variety of technology startups. 

Jen will report to Chuck Searle, global chief client officer, and will continue to be based in VMLY&R’s Kansas City office. 

Najla Haddad joins from Digitas to head global digital transformation for Colgate-Palmolive. In her new role as executive director, client engagement, Najla will lead global digital transformation initiatives for Colgate-Palmolive and be part of the VMLY&R New York leadership team. She will report to Jen and Carl Hartman, chief executive officer of Red Fuse Communications, working jointly with them to identify new growth opportunities and data-driven marketing initiatives for Colgate. 

Najla brings a wealth of experience that complements VMLY&R’s customer experience (CX) and wider digital capabilities. Most recently, she served as executive vice president at Digitas where she led key accounts including Delta and Comcast, and expanded the use of the agency’s digital, marketing, social and content transformation capabilities. With 15 years of agency experience, Najla’s portfolio of accounts has also included American Express, Nestlé Gerber, Nestlé Purina, Coca-Cola, IHG and more. 

Michelle Derderian joins from FCB Chicago to run key accounts, including Kraft Heinz. As executive director, client engagement, Michelle will be part of the VMLY&R Chicago leadership team and responsible for the agency’s growing client engagement team and all key accounts in the office. She will report to Jen and partner closely with executive director and office lead Madeline (Nies) Larsen and executive creative director Aaron Evanson to focus on growth in the market.

Michelle has nearly 20 years of experience in the industry, having served most recently in a number of senior positions at FCB Chicago. She has a diverse background working with brands such as The J.M. Smucker Company, Kellogg’s, Target, GlaxoSmithKline, Jimmy John’s, New Orleans Tourism and more. She brings a proven record as a strategic and creative partner, and the ability to build a strong and engaged team culture.
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