Two years after joining the Barbarian Group as president, Sophie Kelly has moved up to the big chair, taking over as chief executive officer of the Cheil-owned digital agency. As a result, Barbarian co-founder Benjamin Palmer, who’s served as CEO since the beginning in 2001, will shift to the chairman role at the agency and continue in his day-to-day efforts in “driving innovation through technology, new business, and agency culture” in partnership with Kelly.
Prior to her joining the Barbarians, Kelly spent over two years as managing director/partner at StrawberryFrog, working with clients ranging from Jim Beam to P&G’s Pampers. During her career, Kelly’s also had lengthy stints as global business director on Diageo at JWT NY and has worked in her native Australia at the likes of Mojo, Lowe Lintas and Leo Burnett Sydney. Regarding the new CEO, Palmer says, “Sophie has helped us grow up as an agency and has played an instrumental role in building the business while maintaining our creative and tech-focused culture. She’s been running the business operationally for some time, and this move is a recognition of her talent and achievements.”