The year in review: Biggest people moves

Mumbrella Asia present some of the biggest people moves of 2014.

Most of them have happen in the last month of the year. It must be that time of year.

Ricky OwRicky Ow. After one of the biggest corporate restructures (some would say blood baths) in Asia’s international media scene for some years, Turner began looking for a new president following the exit of former boss Steve Marcopoto after 15 years with the company. Enter former Sony Pictures executive Ricky Ow, who called the company’s decision to dramatically revamp the business – sacking one in three people in the Hong Kong regional headquarters – as “a very bold decision.” In a Q&A with Mumbrella in December, Ow said: “The story that did not come out is that after the restructure was complete, the money saved was invested back into the business.”


Damien CummingsDamien Cummings. Cummings worked at Samsung for just under a year and a half as regional marketing director, digital and social media until a dramatic restructure of the company’s marketing department in Southeast Asia at the end of last year. A few months later, the Australian announced his next move on his blog. He wrote: “It’s tough going through such a sudden change, both professionally and personally. For the last couple of months I’ve taken time out to reassess and focus on what’s important in life – friends, family, being healthy, giving back to the community and sharing my knowledge. It also gave me a unique opportunity to focus on finding a new role at a company that was more closely aligned to my values – a company that focuses on helping people and improving people’s lives. That company was Philips. He joined as regional vice president and chief marketing officer, ASEAN and Pacific in February.


Neil StewartNeil Stewart. The well-liked Australian, who has worked on the client-side for Motorola and Compaq/HP, for an ad agency at Ogilvy, and latterly at media agency Maxus as global chief client officer, completed a quartet of industry disciplines when he joined a media owner (some would say tech firm) in December. He shifted to Facebook as head of agency for Asia Pacific. Can we expect lots of dollars to shift from GroupM to Facebook in 2015? Stewart shifted to a global role at Maxus after Ajit Varghese was appointed regional CEO, a role Stewart had performed for five years.


Paul SoonPaul Soon. One of the most high-profile agency bosses in Asia surprised the industry when it was announced that he was stepping down from his role as CEO of XM in December after a decade of service, growing the agency organically and also by a series of acquisitions to build XM’s regional footprint. Where he will go next is uncertain (a tech start up, perhaps?). But what is, is that the Singaporean army reservist will have offers on the table. His successor, Nanda Ivens, the CEO of XM Gravity, took the reigns as APAC’s only Indonesian regional agency boss. Ivens brought to the role experience at PR agency Edelman, media agencies Mindshare and neo@Ogilvy, and media owner The Economist.


Ronald NgRonald Ng. It emerged that one of the creators of the world’s most awarded print ads of 2014, a series of Picasso-esque executions to mark the launch of Guinness draught in a bottle, is to leave BBDO Singapore to return to the US, where he worked for the network’s New York office. Although he leaves the network, Chris Thomas, the agency’s regional head, said that BBDO Asia “always have a place for him.” Primus Nair, who was promoted to group creative director to ECD in May this year, looks like the probably replacement for Ng.


Jason KupermanJason Kuperman. It was a big loss to Asia when Mumbrella revealed in October that one of the region’s most senior digital practitioners would be moving back to the US after six years as regional VP of digital for Omnicom Digital (with overall responsibility for ad agencies BBDO, TBWA, DDB and media arm Omnicom Media Group) and before that two as MD of in China.



Ian ThubronIan Thubron. Leaving TBWA after a decade, starting in 2004 as CEO of the network’s Hong Kong office, then promoted to CEO of TBWA\Greater China in 201o, then later on to be China president, Thubron revealed he was to leave the agency in February to launch his own business. The network’s international president Keith Smith said that with the leadership team in place, the agency would “continue to thrive in Greater China” without Thubron, but the former Ogilvy Shanghai and M&C Saatchi China boss leaves with a hefty contacts book as he goes it alone.



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