GroupM has announced a string of leadership changes globally. Vikram Sakhuja, CEO, GroupM India and South Asia, has been named global CEO of Maxus. He will succeed Kelly Clark, who in turn will take on Rob Norman’s role as CEO, GroupM North America.
Rob Norman, also CEO of GroupM Interaction since 2006, will move to a newly created position of chief digital officer for GroupM Global.
Sakhuja will continue in his current role until a successor is announced. Sakhuja, Clark and Norman will report to Dominic Proctor, president, GroupM Global, and commence their new roles later in 2012.
In an internal note sent to all GroupM, Maxus, MEC, Mediacom and Mindshare employees globally, Proctor said, “Vikram is the perfect candidate to take on the Maxus role from Kelly, and I have no doubt that he will continue to build a great agency.”
Sakhuja, the new Maxus CEO, will continue to be based in India.
Proctor told Campaign Asia-Pacific that the best thinking and momentum in the business is coming from Asia, so it is fitting that somebody from an Asian market takes on the global role. He said the model will be a marker for the future, adding that it is a surprise that more agencies haven’t taken a similar approach.
“There is no reason why agencies need to be run out of London or New York,” Proctor said. “The world is now a small town, and the fact that our management team are spread around the globe is very fitting.”
The management changes come on the back of a strong performance by Maxus, which recorded total billings in Asia-Pacific of US$1.94 billion in 2011 - a 22.4 per cent increase on 2010 levels, according to RECMA.
Proctor said given Maxus’ momentum in the market, Sakhuja will be tasked with continuing this trajectory going forward. He denied, however, that Sakhuja’s appointment will result in growth focused in Asian markets, adding that Maxus will remain ‘very much a global agency’.
This development follows the elevations of Ashutosh Srivastava and R Gowthaman at Mindshare. While Srivasatava was named global head of emerging markets, Gowthaman was appointed CEO for South and South East Asia.
Proctor underlined that Sakhuja’s appointment was not part of a deliberate strategy to promote senior talent from India. He said, “It is a reflection of where the global talent pool is right now. Asia is a very high-growth area for us, and the fact that Vikram has experienced that type of growth is all for the good.”
Mark Patterson, CEO of GroupM Asia-Pacific, added that Sakhuja is a ‘world-class operator’ leading a strong team in a ‘vibrant, thriving, ambitious agency‘.
“It's very satisfying to see talent from this region taking on broader roles," he said. “He [Sakhuja] and Maxus people and Maxus clients will all win, I am sure.”
Neil Stewart, CEO of Maxus Asia-Pacific, said the role would represent new challenges for Sakhuja as he gets “his head around the world rather than the world of India”.
But he added, “Vikram is a hugely experienced guy and I think he will do a great job. It will be a challenge, but I imagine for him will be hugely inspiring and motivating.”
Sakhuja will transition into the new role over the coming months, with the search for a replacement for India and South Asia currently underway.
Sakhuja joined GroupM in 2002 as managing director of Mindshare Fulcrum, and was subsequently elevated to the position of managing director of Mindshare South Asia. He has earlier worked with Star TV as executive vice president - marketing, Coca-Cola as marketing manager - brands, and Procter & Gamble as associate manager media and public affairs.