Communications consultancy Edelman adds senior advisors in Middle East

14 December 2017 3 min. read

Communications and marketing consulting firm Edelman has welcomed a number of faces new and old to its Middle East senior executive branch after a series of recent departures.

Entering with an office in Abu Dhabi in 2008, the global communications consulting firm Edelman has grown to become the largest public relations (PR) consultancy in the Middle East, working with both government institutions and multinationals from its offices in Abu Dhabi and Dubai with the support of its 160-strong team. Globally, Edelman boasts over 5,500 staff across 65 international cities.

Leading the fresh appointments, Todd Donhauser, UAE Chief Executive since the beginning of last year, will now have his role expanded to cover the full member states of the GCC (the Gulf Co-operation Council,  made up of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE).

Previous to his arrival in the Middle East, Donhauser served as Executive Vice President from 2009 to 2013 at the company’s Washington office, before helping to establish its first branch in Africa as Managing Director of Edelman South Africa.

Not unfamiliar with the MENA region, Donhauser had earlier in his career assisted in advising the Kingdom of Morocco in his role as a co-coordinator for Edelman’s media & presentation program, structure and instruction during a prior stint as Senior Vice President with the firm between 2005 and 2008.

Todd Donhauser, Bhavna Thapar, Rich Rust, Dan Leach, Paul Slinger

Joining Donhauser from within the Edelman ranks is Bhavna Thapar, who moves from Edelman India to take on the director of brand position. Thapur has been with Edelman since 2004 where she began in Mumbai as an account executive, steadily moving through the ranks to Director, Consumer and Health in India before her most recent move to the Gulf. 

Meanwhile, Rich Rust will come on board as Head of Digital, Dan Leach as Creative Director, and Paul Slinger in the position of Corporate Director. Rust was a former digital executive at Nissan before this year co-founding the London and Dubai-based digital consultancy firm Brave & Heart, and has been acting as Head of Social for public relations firm Ogilvy and Mather in the UAE from the beginning of last year up until this month past.

Leach meanwhile enters the Edelman frame after an earlier career spell as a creative director at Lexis (2011-2014), where he had worked with former Lexis CEO and current Edelman brand managing director Jason Galluci, while Slinger comes across from global PR and digital marketing agency FleishmanHillard, having served for the past two years there as a director. It will be Slinger’s second stint with Edelman in the UAE; from 2006 to 2012, Slinger was engaged as a director on the firm’s key account with the state-owned capital investment agency Mubadala, who are set to be the renewed focus of his return.

The round of senior appointments comes after a series of recent personnel losses and layoffs for the company, including the departures of Camilla and Lucy D’Abo, the founders of Edelman- acquired consumer firm Dabo. Other exits include managing director of reputation Jacob Drake, after six years with the company, and Rust and Leach’s predecessors Ema Linaker (digital) and ZorZi El Hoyek (creative), the latter after only three months with the company.

Donhauser described the departures as natural, saying, “As with any agency, turnover is an inherent part of the business. Given our scale, we have said goodbye to some senior colleagues as they pursue the next phase of their careers and we wish them the best.”