The surprise departure of D&AD chief executive Michael Hockney yesterday was in fact under discussion for some time, according to chairman Anthony Simonds-Gooding, who steps into the breach ahead of the organisation’s Congress next week.
Speaking directly to Design Week, Simonds-Gooding says he will oversee the work of the D&AD management team in the short term, before deciding how to replace Hockney. ‘Michael’s departure will have come as a shock to some people, but in truth it has been discussed for some time. Some will query the timing on the eve of our big season, but I’ll supervise things and let the team do it. In May, I’ll turn to the idea of what to do in the longer term,’ he says.
In a statement from D&AD, Hockney says he plans to take a ‘mini-sabbatical’. ‘I’ve never had one in all the 35 years I’ve been working – my wife and I can concentrate on renovating our house. Then to start in a new role,’ he says. However, earlier reports allege that there has been a power struggle at the top of the organisation.
Hockney became chief executive of D&AD in 2003 and, according to Simonds-Gooding, he has acted as a ‘change-agent’ over the last four years, doubling membership and globalising the awards programme. ‘He’s got to a stage with a good management team and wants out. It was a question of when. He will take up the reins again doing some other change management elsewhere,’ says Simonds-Gooding.
This year’s D&AD president is Tony Davidson, joint creative director of advertising agency Wieden & Kennedy. He is to be succeeded by Poke creative director and D&AD deputy president Simon Waterfall in September.