COI on verge of appointing chief

The Government’s hunt to replace COI Communications chief executive Carol Fisher is expected to end next week. The final round of interviews for the head of the UK’s biggest advertiser is due on November 5.

Five candidates have been shortlisted. It has emerged that Hugh Burkitt, chairman of Burkitt DDB and Anne Nash, the former Home Office deputy director for communications, have been recommended for the post. But there is no conclusive evidence that they are on the final shortlist.

Meanwhile, the COI has dismissed the list of candidates linked by press reports to the job, which includes Inland Revenue head of marketing Ian Schoolar, Shell vice-president for global brands and communications Raoul Pinnell, Reuters head of global communications Sholto Douglas-Home, and Incorporated Society of British Advertisers director of media affairs Bob Wootton.

Fisher’s departure in July led to a flurry of speculation about industry names in the running for the position. The salary for the chief executive post was recently hiked by &£15,000 to &£120,000 a year, and the package may be worth up to &£150,000.

Tony Douglas, former chief executive of the COI, who left after 18 months in the job to be European chairman of FCB in 1998, says the shortlisted candidates are likely to be from varied backgrounds including commerce and the civil service.

It is understood that the COI received 150 applications for the job, out of which it shortlisted 16 candidates. Only five are being called for final interview. The interview panel will be chaired by the civil service commissioner Alastair Mcdonald. Other panel members include the head of Government Information and Communications Service, Mike Grannat; Peter Wardle, Cabinet Office director; and Dick Emery, a member of the Advisory Committee on Advertising.

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