Arvind Sharma, chairman and CEO, India sub-continent, Leo Burnett, is exiting the agency after a 30 year-stint. Saurabh Varma, regional chief strategy officer, Leo Burnett Asia Pacific, has been named CEO, Leo Burnett Group India. The appointment is effective 1 November 2013.
In his new role, Varma will report to Jarek Ziebinski, president, Leo Burnett Asia Pacific, an agency statement said. Nitish Mukherjee, who is on the board of directors of the company, will play a key role in this transition as strategic consultant, it added.
Tom Bernardin, chairman and CEO, Leo Burnett Worldwide, said, “During his tenure, Arvind Sharma built a stellar client base that includes blue chip multinational and local clients and nurtured some of the brightest stars within the Indian advertising industry today. Though he remains available for his advice and counsel, we bid farewell to Arvind today, in his official capacity, with our very best wishes and as a dear friend.”
“I’d like to thank Arvind for his contribution to our success and close collaboration over the past four years since I arrived in the region. I wish Arvind nothing but the best for his new future,” said Ziebinski.
Sharma said, “I had a very long and fruitful run as the leader of Leo Burnett in India sub-continent. As I approached the company-defined age of 58, I would like to start something totally new. I look back at my 30 years at the agency and 21 years of leading it with a great deal of satisfaction.”
On the successor, Bernardin added, “We are fortunate to have a strong management team on ground in India and equally fortunate in having the bench strength in the region in naming Saurabh to this role. Saurabh’s talent and track record is well-recognised within the network.”
On his new role, Varma said, “I look forward to coming back with a fresh perspective gained from my time away and bring the best learnings of Leo Burnett network to India. Being a part of the regional team for Asia Pacific has given me a unique perspective and experience of diverse markets across the region and I look forward to bringing this understanding to my new role.”
As chief strategy officer of Leo Burnett Asia Pacific, Varma oversees all heads of strategy and planning directors in the region. After nine years in Indian agencies, Varma has spent the last seven at Leo Burnett, based in Singapore.