Staff exodus from Ogilvy PR continues as another account director, account executives exit

First went Joel Chacha, then Alex Owiti followed later. But now, it seems the staff exodus from Ogilvy PR, by both entry-level and senior employees, is yet to end as the agency continues to witness staff exits.

Ogilvy PR – which handles leading telco Safaricom as well as other blue chips including Equity Bank, Coca Cola, CBA and Carrefour among other major brands – has reportedly also lost Henry Ndirangu, one of its Account Directors.

Coming just months after the departure of Chacha and Owiti, Ndirangu’s exit is likely to be felt by the team at the firm as he’d had a comparatively long stint at the agency. Having joined Ogilvy as a Communications Consultant in mid 2010, Ndirangu was made an Account Director 2 years later and was at one time seconded to Safaricom headquarters and embedded to the telco’s in-house PR team. He would later leave the Safaricom account under unclear circumstances then move back to his work station at the agency and was at the time of his departure in charge of the Coca-Cola, CBA and Carrefour accounts.

And it’s not just senior level employees who are exiting the PR and communications consultancy as even entry-level staff (or Account Executives) are leaving, with the reason being the perceived high-handedness of Catherine Karanja, the agency’s Managing Partner. Apart from the management’s high-handedness, the other reason given for the exits (and disquiet) at Ogilvy PR is the apparent pay disparity among staff with some people reportedly earning comparatively higher salaries than their colleagues in similar roles and for doing the same duties.

Among those who have also left are Jesse Sitienei, Andrew Ochieng and Esther Mwangi (all Account Executives) and Caroline Rwenji (an Account Manager). All the four used to serve on the busy Safaricom account and their departure means that Ogilvy will have to move fast to secure their replacement before the client(s) become aware of the gaps left by their exit.

A fifth member of the same team, Lenin Lumumba (a senior Account Exectuive), also part of the team handling the Safaricom account, handed in his resignation but Ms Karanja reportedly declined to acknowledge it because accepting his departure would have left the team to hollow and exposed.

With the exit of the four, those now left behind to handle the Safaricom account before their replacements are identified and recruited are Sarah Oleng and Tony Blair, with Naomi Mutua and Sarah Wambi providing overall control.

Whether Ogilvy will raid its partner agencies within the Scanad (and WPP) group or look at industry rivals and poach for new talent to replace and take over the roles left vacant by the former staff remains to be seen.

Overall however, the firm’s management needs to act fast and stem the current tide of staff departures if it’s serious about retaining its current clients and attracting fresh accounts.

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