Curiouser and curiouser. Word reaches me that Jean-Yves Naouri – heir presumptive to the Publicis empire – is being sent to China (as opposed to Siberia). Already holding down a top job as Publicis Groupe’s operations chief, he will now be spending one week a month in the new, and additional, role of chief executive of Publicis in China.
Sounds like hell on earth, but Naouri is inured to these supplementary troubleshooting roles. He has, in the past, run the group’s healthcare business and been in charge of ‘globalising’ various group functions. The signs are that he will now orchestrate the Great Leap Forward in China, where things have not been going so swimmingly as in other parts of the group.
What this means for his succession prospects is anyone’s guess. Maybe it’s one more dutiful task to attend to before ascending the throne. After all, success in China would be a huge feather in his cap and put some distance between him and any other candidate.
Or is he being sidelined – the favourite who has to be beaten? Success may well be the decisive criterion. I’m inescapably reminded of Tim Mason here. Mason, once marketing director of Tesco, seemed a shoo-in for Sir Terry Leahy when he steps down as ceo. I’m not so sure now. Mason appears to have bitten off more than he can chew with the indifferently performing Fresh & Easy project that he has been spearheading in California on Tesco’s behalf.