World Business Chicago names new CEO

Robert Channick, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Business News

There’s a new leader heading up Chicago’s business recruitment efforts.

Philip Clement, whose resume includes stints as global chief marketing officer for Johnson Controls and Aon, was named Tuesday as president and CEO of World Business Chicago, the city’s public-private economic development arm.

In his new role, Clement will be in charge of pitching Chicago as a destination for corporate relocation and expansion, a competitive arena that has seen the city score some victories, but lose some big names in recent years.

“With his extensive experience and deep understanding of both local and global economic landscapes, Philip brings a unique perspective that will undoubtedly propel World Business Chicago forward,” Mayor Brandon Johnson said in a news release. “His commitment to authenticity, sustainability, and diversity will ensure that our city’s economic development efforts are equitable and impactful for all Chicagoans.”

The city has been looking to fill the position since the announced resignation in December of Michael Fassnacht after four years as CEO of World Business Chicago. The former advertising executive left in February to become chief growth officer for Clayco, a real estate development and construction company.

Newly named board member Eric Sedler, the Chicago-based co-founder and managing partner of public relations firm Avoq, has been serving as interim CEO since Fassnacht’s departure.

Clement, 58, who earned an MBA at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, has had a diverse career spanning brand management, consulting, technology and entrepreneurship. Most recently he was global chief marketing officer at Johnson Controls in Milwaukee, a building technology company with 100,000 employees in more than 150 countries and nearly $27 billion in annual revenue last year.

Previously, he was the London-based global chief marketing officer for more than a dozen years at insurance giant Aon. Clement has also run his own consultancy and investment firms.


A New Trier High School alumnus who studied film at the University of Southern California, Clement is a longtime board member at both the Goodman Theatre and Cinema/Chicago, the nonprofit organization behind the Chicago International Film Festival.

Founded as a private enterprise in 1999 by the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club, World Business Chicago sought to attract companies and industries to the city. It merged the following year with the taxpayer-funded Chicago Partnership for Economic Development.

The organization expanded during former Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration as part of his agenda to increase Chicago’s standing as an international business center. Under Fassnacht, World Business Chicago upped its marketing game, creating provocative campaigns targeting Sun Belts states with more restrictive social policies.

The city nonetheless suffered some big-name corporate relocations in recent years, including billionaire hedge fund manager Ken Griffin, who announced in June 2022 he was moving the headquarters of his investment firm, Citadel, from Chicago to Miami. Others to exit the Chicago market during Fassnacht’s tenure included Boeing and Caterpillar.

Fassnacht announced his exit from World Business Chicago eight months into the Johnson administration amid broader concerns the new mayor was not as pro-business as his predecessors.

The city provides about 20% of World Business Chicago’s $10 million annual budget, with much of the rest coming from private corporate donations. Fassnacht earned more than $480,000 as CEO in 2022, according to the organization’s Form 990 filed with the Internal Revenue Service.

“I am excited to work collaboratively with Mayor Johnson, Vice Chair Charles Smith, the board of directors, and the entire team to build on the region’s strengths and create new and equitable opportunities for businesses and residents alike,” Clement said in the news release.

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