Leo Burnett Singapore boss Josh Grace departs

Josh GraceJosh Grace, the managing director of Leo Burnett Singapore, is leaving after two and a half years running the agency locally and more than a decade with the network, Mumbrella can reveal.

Grace is leaving for a client-side role in Singapore as regional marketing officer, although which company is as yet unclear.

There will be no direct replacement for Grace. Rebecca Ang, the agency’s general manager, is to run the agency along with head of strategy Nigel Tribe and Chris Chiu, who is returning to the agency as chief creative officer after a stint running his own venture, Ren Partnership.

In Grace’s tenure, while the agency lost key client UOB, it picked up accounts such as Samsung, the regional advertising account for Allergen, the maker of Botox, and projects for Double A, Lazada, MBT and SkyScanner.

Jarek Ziebinski, the regional boss of Leo Burnett, said in a statement: “Following 11 years at Leo Burnett in Singapore and earlier in Australia – where he made significant contribution towards the success story of the Sydney office – Josh has decided to move on from the agency life.”

“Over the past two years in Singapore, Josh has helped to consolidate and structure the agency following a period of massive growth. He created stability and built a strong foundation and business base that will enable future growth for the agency. During this time, he also built a strong management team around him including general manager, Rebecca Ang and head of strategy, Nigel Tribe who will continue to lead and take the agency forward. I want to thank Josh for his hard work and passion for Leo Burnett and wish him the best in his next step.”

In a statement shared with Mumbrella, Grace added: “It’s been an amazing decade plus with Leo’s – a business that has given me so many opportunities. I have Jarek [Ziebinski, Leo Burnett’s regional boss] to thank for bringing me to Singapore and Todd Sampson [Leo Burnett Sydney’s CEO] for all he invested in me. I have enjoyed my time immensely and thank the teams in Sydney and more recently in Singapore for being brilliant colleagues and friends.”

“It’s the culture, network and focus on creativity that I will always treasure. I am especially proud of the leadership team taking over in Singapore, they are set for a great new period of growth. Now, after almost 20 years in the advertising game it’s time for change. I look forward to my new adventure on the other side of the fence. I’m joining a business with equally huge ambitions and a big agenda. I look forward to bringing the expertise I have gained at Leo’s to their business and hope to learn a few new things too. See you on the other side.”

The Australian relocated from Sydney, where he was chief operating officer of Leo Burnett in that city, in September 2012.

A Burnett loyalist, Grace, who was a member of the Australian sailing team at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, has worked for the company for more than a decade – first as group business director, then MD of the agency’s direct arm, before moving to work alongside CEO Todd Sampson as COO. Prior to that, he worked at Y&R in Australia among others.

Grace has worked for the Singapore office for a little longer than he said would be reasonable. In an interview with Mumbrella in October 2013, Grace said “Two years would be unfair – I would not be doing a service to the people who work for me. Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m very team focused. When I discussed the role with my boss, I thought it would not be fair for me to work on a fixed contract. My job is to set up the agency as a sustainable business and ensure there’s another generation coming through to one day take over.”

In the interview, Grace was also clear about the value of the Asian region. “I really believe Asia is the future – the centre of where everything important is going to happen in the world in the next 10-20 years,” he said.

“I moved here for my kids too. Australian kids need to understand the enormous change that’s going on, and that Asia is at the heart of it. We, as Australians, can get stuck on an island at the bottom of the Pacific. We’re connected in some ways, but in others we are unconnected. Asia gets more dynamic, interesting and influential day by day, and Australians need to get a grip on that reality.”

Grace’s move comes as Leo Burnett named new leadership in China, with client-side marketer Danny Mok taking over from Donald Chan at the top.


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