A Conversation with… Sean Howard CEO of The Government & Public Sector Practice

Sean Howard

At The Government & Public Sector Practice our team of senior consultants connect clients with the best ideas and expertise in WPP’s global network. This quarter, we speak to Sean Howard, CEO of The Government & Public Sector Practice about his vision for government communications in 2020.

As a 15-year veteran in WPP, working across industries such as Technology, Healthcare, Entertainment, Retail and Government, Sean joined the WPP Government & Public Sector Practice as the Global Managing Director in 2017 and has recently succeeded Michelle Harrison as CEO of the Practice. Of the move, he says “I fundamentally believe that open, two-way communication between a government and its citizens is critical to the ongoing growth and prosperity of a nation. I am thrilled to continue to drive excellence in government communications and strongly believe our global talent, thought leadership and connections to the latest advancements in technology, behaviour change theory and design experience can help governments rebuild its citizen trust that has continued to erode this past decade.”

Can you describe the Government & Public Sector Practice in 6 words?

Building Citizen Trust Through Impactful Creativity.

Can you describe what your role entails?

As CEO my role is focused on ensuring our government clients have access to the best talent, teams and technologies across WPP. It is to also help governments unlock their ability to regain eroding citizen trust by providing open communication platforms, enhanced digital experiences, and the technologies to engage citizens in meaningful and real ways.

Internally, it is also about helping our agency leaders understand the significant business and creative opportunities that exist in government and providing support and guidance in pitching and winning public sector tenders.

What keeps you excited about the government practice?

The work that WPP agencies do is making real and dramatic differences in people’s lives worldwide – and across such a wide variety of initiatives. From helping people prepare for bushfire season in Australia, to driving employment opportunities through public sector recruitment, to promoting the rights of girls in India, to helping institutions such as the EU reach their long-term sustainability goals. So much of our work has direct impact on improving people’s lives and that gets me out of bed every morning excited about what we can create.

What is some of your favourite government communications work you’ve seen since you’ve been at the Practice?

There are many terrific examples of Government and Public Sector work produced by WPP. In Singapore, for example, we have worked with the government to increase the understanding of climate change and to encourage its citizens to become game changers for the environment. In Australia, we have been working with the New South Wales government to create behavioural change among road users to improve road safety. In the US, we’ve used YouTube influencers in innovative ways as part of the US Navy recruiting effort. In the EU the InvestEU campaign really demonstrates the opportunities the EU creates for its entrepreneurial citizens who starting and building business.

These are just a few but the list goes on!

What is for vision for government communications in 2020 and where do you think WPP is best suited to help?

Governments need to continue its open dialogue with citizens and help to deliver digital experiences and services designed to effectively implement policy and to increase citizen trust. WPP’s ability to bring our technology partners and our experiential design talent, in addition to our strong communication and behaviour change capabilities, will help governments deliver the kind of services and experiences that parallel what people expect from the commercial world. I believe continued digitization of government in all form and manner is the biggest ongoing opportunity for WPP.


What advice would you give agencies pitching for government work?

My biggest piece of advice would be: begin the process early! It’s important to understand that procurement for our services is different than in the commercial space, and our highest probability of win involves including your local hub lead early in the process. That, and being intimately familiar with the mission of your government clients and their particular department or ministry creates your best chance for success.


To learn more about WPP Government & Public Sector Practice, or to get in touch with your local hub lead, visit or email [email protected].