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The new Kantar CEO has quit 4 months into the job…….Why?

Sky News reported on Monday that CEO Alexis Nassard was to leave Data & Research giant Kantar after just 4 months in the job.   It has been announce from Kantar that both parties came to a mutual agreement that Nassard was unlikely to be “an effective long term fit.”

Quite a turnaround from 4 months prior when Adam Crozier, the Kantar Chairman who led the Search, announced that:  “In Alexis we have appointed a world-class CEO. As a former CMO and client he understands the value Kantar delivers, and the role it plays in advising the world’s biggest consumer brands.”

Nasard at the time had said:  “The combination of Kantar’s deep understanding of consumers around the world, our proprietary data sets and our growing expertise in advanced analytics and artificial intelligence puts us in a leading position to reshape the insights and consulting market, while offering clients superior analytics they can monetise.”

So Why after just 4 months has it been deemed that he is not an effective long term fit?

In many ways the clues might come from Nassard’s own quote above.  He is a clearly an experienced leader, but an Executive who has spent the last 15 years selling Beer & Shoes is never going to be the most natural fit for a company looking to digitise & develop a Data Driven SAAS product model.

Kantar are at a Crossroads.  They are looking to Digitise & Productise their services to fight off competition from more agile challengers in the conumer insight space who are more digital & data native.  One such exampl is Streetbees

Kantar have been on an acquisition spree over last few years as a quick route to this.  In March 2020 they announced the acquisition of data consulting firm Mavens, and in April 2021 announced the acquisition of Chicago based Consumer Intelligence firm Numerator for $1.5 billlion.

So the CEO at Kantar has a number of challenges.  Lead the company in the transformation to a more product based SAAS firm; handle the integration of major data & digital native company acquisitions; and finally take strategic decisions on future company acquisitions.  It’s easy to say in hindsight, but coming from a background in large traditional corporates Alexis Nassard just didn’t have the background to take on these challenges.

Ultimately the error Crozier made in hiring Nassard was to hire a CEO with extensive experience in the traditional FMCG & retail world.  What they need is CEO from a Digital/Data/Tech background who will be best suited to the transformation challenges they have.

Clearly this will be a very costly mistake for Kantar, but credit to both sides for making a very swift decision once it was clear a mistake had been made.  It will be interesting to see who is next for the Top Job at Kantar.  It’s likely lesson will have been learned and whoever they appoint will come from a more native Tech/Digital background who is more suited to leading the transformation & change that is coming.

 

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