MEC APAC boss Stephen Li shifts to OMD as Steve Blakeman leaves Asia after a decade





In the biggest move in the media agency world of the year, Stephen Li, the regional head of GroupM agency MEC, is moving over to Omnicom rival OMD, as current OMD boss Steve Blakeman leaves the region after just under a decade to return to the UK.

Blakeman, who first came to Asia as regional head of strategy for IPG Mediabrands agency Initiative in 2006, is moving to London to take on a global position for OMD, the agency has confirmed.

Li, who takes on Blakeman’s duties at OMD, calls time on four years as APAC CEO of MEC and nine years with the agency. MEC had not commented on a likely replacement for Li at the time of going to press.

He will report to both regional HQ in Singapore, Omnicom Media Group CEO Cheuk Chiang, and global HQ in London, OMD global boss Mainardo de Nardis in New York.

Blakeman’s move comes two years after Barry Cupples, the former regional head of Omnicom Media Group, moved back to London for a global investment role.

Blakeman told Mumbrella: “The last decade in Asia has been a blast. I’ve worked with some truly awe-inspiring people and achieved more than I could have ever imagined. I’ve seen China grow into a communications power house, Australia take on the world in terms of creativity and APAC as a whole begin to lead conversations rather than simply follow them. I feel honoured to have been part of this period of unprecedented growth and change.

“But now it’s time to write the next chapter,” he added. “Truth is, my daughter has won a scholarship at a performing arts school in London and that was the catalyst for the move back home. I discussed the situation with both Cheuk [Chiang] and Mainardo [de Nardis] many months ago and they have been fantastic in making this transition come together. As I head off to my new global role, Stephen will be able to simultaneously take hold of the reins for OMD in the region meaning that there will be zero disruption to the business. A genuine win-win for all parties involved and testament to the progressive attitude that OMD have towards talent management.”

Chiang commented: “We conducted an extensive and intensive search across the region to find OMD’s next leader, someone who is not only experienced, but capable of taking the OMD brand to the next level. Stephen’s proven track record in building strong client partnerships, driving digital growth, evangelising creativity and inspiring teams is the perfect combination needed to ensure that a powerful brand like OMD stays at the forefront.”

On Blakeman, Chiang commented: “Steve has driven four years of continued success for OMD on all fronts – growth, thought leadership and creativity. OMD is currently one of the most awarded agencies in the region with a great competitive edge. He could not have left the brand in a stronger place and we can’t thank him enough for his leadership.”


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