Magazine article Workforce

Brian Brooks's Secret Mission

Magazine article Workforce

Brian Brooks's Secret Mission

Article excerpt

The Quiet HR Man

Say you're the executive VP and chief human resources officer of Interpublic-- the second-largest owner of ad agencies in the world-and you're asked to find a brave new COO. An exciting challenge, right?

Then consider the fact that Interpublic's stock has shrunk, profits have plummeted, and the SEC has taken a serious interest in the company's accounting practices. Suddenly the task feels less exciting and a little more, well, challenging. What, as Interpublic's people person, do you say when Workforce comes knocking at the door?

Why, you say nothing-if you're anything like Brian Brooks, Interpublic's real-life human resources honcho, who has chosen not to comment on the story. And by doing so, you crank up the drama in an already dramatic situation.

"Interpublic's search for a COO is one of the most closely watched in the [advertising] industry right now and clearly comes at a time when the company is fighting fires on several fronts," says Scott Donaton, editor of Advertising Age. "My guess is that whoever is named to the position will reveal a lot about the company's strategy going forward and the roles of others in the executive suite."

And how exactly did Brooks land in that suite? A graduate of the University of Wisconsin and Vanderbilt University Law School, Brooks kicked off his professional life as an employee benefits and compensation consultant at Hewitt Associates in suburban Chicago. From there he joined Towers Perrin, working in both New York and London. …

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