Kate Burns, Google’s director for the UK, Ireland and Benelux, and the company’s first employee from outside the US, is to leave the company at the end of the month after five years with the company.
Effectively UK chief executive, Burns has played a key role in the rapid growth of the online advertising market in the UK – a sector that is expected to be worth &£2bn this year.
Burns says she is taking a career break and planning to spend more time with her family, but intends to return to the business world in the future.
She left open the possibility of a return to Google after her career break. “The door’s been left open,” she says. “It’s too early to say yet. Both sides would like to think it’s a separation rather than a divorce.” However, she ruled out working for a direct competitor.
The company is not expected to name a direct replacement. Burns’ departure is the second major change to Google’s senior management team in the UK this year. At the start of the year the company appointed Mark Howe as its UK managing director. Howe reports to Burns. There is speculation that further management changes are likely in the near future.
Google opened an office in London in September 2001, hiring Burns as head of advertising sales. Two years later she was promoted to UK managing director and a year after that took on her current role. Before joining Google, Burns had been responsible for advertising sales at a number of companies, including Altavista and DoubleClick.