Lawson Exits Donovan, Worldwide President Had Been Seen As Potential Heir

In a surprise shake-up, Henry Lawson is out as president of Donovan Data Systems, the company that controls most of Madison Avenue's back-office processing systems, including the majority of those used to manage media planning, buying and payments to the media. The move is surprising, because Lawson was considered by some to be a potential heir to DDS Chairman-CEO Michael Donovan, if and when it steps down from running the company he founded more than 30 years ago.

"It is with regret that we announce that Henry Lawson has left the company in order to pursue other business interests," a DDS spokesman said of Lawson's departure. "While we're excited for Henry, we're also sad to say good-bye to him. During his 15 years with the company he has helped build a great team and a strong business. Under Henry's stewardship, DDS introduced new initiatives, and successfully launched new applications and laid the foundations for new markets. We wish Henry all the very best in the future."

In addition to serving as president of DDS Worldwide, Lawson was CEO of DDS Europe, where he spent most of his time. His departure, coincidentally, coincides with DDS U.S. rival MediaBank's expansion into Europe.



Lawson's departure comes weeks after Donovan announced a restructuring of its operations that downsized its organizations by an estimated 100 people. The restructuring was attributed to two developments: The downturn in the advertising economy, and the completion of an intensive software development process for MediaOcean, a system used by TV stations to manage their sales to advertising agencies.

The DDS spokesman said Lawson's departure was related to the restructuring of DDS' European operations, noting that the goal is to, "bring together under one DDS roof the best ideas, systems and service of the two current organizations."

Lawson joined DDS in 1995 from U.S. radio advertising sales representative Interep, and was promoted to president of DDS in 1998. He could not be reached for comment.

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