Sir Martin Sorrell (born February 14, 1945) is the chief executive officer of WPP and has served in that role since he started the company in 1986. Since then, WPP has become one of the world's leading communications services and advertising companies valued by the UK stockmarket at £7.5 billion.
With billings of $15 billion and revenues of $3.5 billion, WPP's 70 operating companies provide national, multi-national and global clients with advertising, media investment management, information and consultancy, public relations and public affairs, branding and identity, healthcare and specialist communications services. Sorrell's firm employs 65,000 people in 950 offices in 92 countries. He owns a substantial stake in the company through a series of pay awards and his own purchases of shares. Until recently he had never before sold shares in the company; his shares are worth around £95 million.
Before founding WPP, Martin Sorrell led the international expansion of famed UK advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi from 1977 until 1984. He is a graduate of Cambridge University and has an MBA from Harvard University. He was knighted in the Millennium New Year Honours list.
In 2005 Sorrell was forced to sell £9m of shares in WPP to pay a tax bill, due to an Inland Revenue clampdown on executive tax avoidance arrangements. He also agreed to change a contract with the company which had been much criticized by institutional shareholders in WPP as being unfairly written in Sorrell's favor. Under the previous agreement if Sorrell had been terminated, it would have led to a very large payout; the new agreement provides him instead with one year's pay. Shareholders have criticized many aspects of corporate governance at WPP.
Sharon Beder and Richard Gosden write:
- Sorrell himself is a somewhat enigmatic figure. He is reported to have a grandness of vision that isn't reflected in either his diminutive stature or his modest self-appraisal. He once famously described himself as "a dull, boring little clerk," but this was before he received a knighthood last year and became Sir Martin... Sorrell even admits that he has never designed an ad in his life and is happy to call himself a money man. "I like counting beans very much indeed," he says. But he is a money man with a fascination for marketing and public relations. He is said to have a vision of a central role for what he calls "creative" communications in a coming Creative Age when conglomerates such as his will occupy the pivotal position as "creative business consultants" and much more.
Corporate lobby networks
Like other central members of the business elite Sorrell is well networked in the arts, the voluntary sector and especially the worlds of business and business lobby groups.
Among other things he is on the National Appeal Board of the NSPCC; he is on the Advisory Council of KPMG, a Special Advisor to the Board of Loyalty Management UK, a member of the NASDAQ Board and a Trustee of the New York corporate lobby group, The Conference Board. In 2002 he was appointed to the CBI International Advisory Board and the Engineering and Technology Board. He is Deputy Chairman and Governor of London Business School and a member of the Advisory Boards of both the Judge Institute for Management Studies in Cambridge, UK and IESE in Spain. He is also a member of the Dean's Advisory Council for Boston University. In 1998, he was appointed to the Board of Directors of Associates of Harvard Business School and to the Board of the Indian School of Business. In addition he is a Trustee of the Cambridge Foundation and a Patron of Cambridge Alumni in Management, a Trustee of the Royal College of Art Foundation, and is a member of the Corporate Advisory Group of The Tate Gallery. He is also a Patron of the Queen Charlotte's Appeal at Hammersmith Hospital; and a non-executive director of Colefax & Fowler. In January 2001 he was appointed a member of the NASDAQ Board. In 1997, he was appointed an Ambassador for British Business by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and subsequently appointed to the Office's Panel 2000 aimed at rebranding Britain abroad. In 1999 he was appointed by the Secretary of State for Education and Employment to serve on the Council for Excellence in Management and Leadership and this year was appointed a member of the Committee for the Special Olympics, serving on the Board. 
- Sir Martin Sorrell is Chief Executive of WPP Group plc, a post he has held since founding the Company in 1986. Over this period, WPP has become one of the world's leading communications services companies. The Group is a member of the FTSE-100, FTSE-Euro top 300, the MSCI and BusinessWeek's Global 1000 companies.
- WPP's 90 operating companies provide national, multi-national and global clients with advertising, media investment management, information and consultancy, public relations and public affairs, branding and identity, healthcare and specialist communications services. The Group employs 64,000 people in 1400 offices in 103 countries. Clients include more than 300 of the Fortune Global 500 and over half of the Nasdaq 100.
- Before founding WPP, Martin Sorrell held a number of positions. From 1977 to 1984, he was Group Finance Director of the advertising agency group, Saatchi & Saatchi Company PLC and was instrumental in planning and implementing its international expansion. His background also includes working as business and financial advisor to British food retail entrepreneur James Gulliver and with the Mark McCormack Organisation in London, where he managed the commercial and financial affairs of sports personalities and celebrities. Martin Sorrell began his career as a marketing associate with Glendinning Associates of Westport, Connecticut.
- An economics graduate of Cambridge University with an MBA from Harvard University Graduate School of Business Administration, he actively supports the advancement of international Business Schools. In 2001 he received an Honorary Doctorate in Business Administration from London Guildhall University... He was Knighted in the Millennium New Year Honours list.
- UK Prime Minister's Business Advisory Group - October 2010 - present