Robert Sawatzky
Dec 20, 2022

Top exits and entrances across APAC in 2022

YEAR IN REVIEW: Our annual recap of marcomms leaders who stepped into new roles or logged out of their existing jobs

Top exits and entrances across APAC in 2022

The end of the year is a good time to look back and reflect on all the changes that happened through the year.  In the marketing communications industry, a part of this exercise is taking stock of all the promotions, demotions, hiring, firing, chuffing and cuffing among industry leaders. 


2022 proved to be yet another active year for executives jumping ship (or walking the plank) as talent management and retention proved to be one of the industry's biggest challenges in the wake of the Great Resignation.


Catch up on past Year in Review lists (more to come this week)


Without further ado, let’s see where the musical chairs took us in 2022 and make a few really bad puns along the way. Here are Campaign Asia-Pacific's top exits and entrances of 2022:

10. Cheil Break
Promoted: Jonghyun Kim
Shuffled over: Jeongkeun Yoo


Cheil Worldwide's first big move at the top in five years sees Jonghhyun Kim get his big break to take over the president and CEO role. Head of business at Cheil since 2017 and its former Greater China CEO, Kim is known for his broad-based global business experience and will lead Cheil's heavy push into all things metaverse. He replaces Jeongkeun Yoo who will stay on as chairman. 

9. Jane Do
Promoted: Jane Lin-Baden
Shuffled over: Loris Nold


It's been a big year for Jane Lin-Baden, whose reputation for getting things done produced not one, but two big promotions from Publicis Groupe this year. In January, she was named to the French holding company's global management committee. Then in September, the North Asia CEO was promoted to APAC CEO, adding South Asia, Australia, New Zealand and Southeast Asia to her remit, replacing Loris Nold, whose APAC/MEA remit was switched to incorporate Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA).

8. All the T (talent) in China
In: Melinda Po, Jason Wu, Richard Tan
Promoted: Laurien Lee
Out: Chris Chen, Matthew Cheng
Reassigned: Keita Ishikawa


China is typically known for higher churn rates and while there was some change among top agency talent in China this year, one wonders if the pandemic and lockdowns this year meant there was less movement than usual. Still, we saw fresh leadership at some agencies, generating these headlines:

7. A PAC of agency leadership changes
In: Charlotte Lee, Warren Fernandes, John Riccio
Out: Jean-Paul Burge, Tuomas Peltoniemi, Stephen Kehoe
Promoted: Tze 'Z' Kiat Tan, Dorothy Peng
Retired: Zhengda 'Z' Shen


There were a number of notable leadership shifts at the Asia and APAC levels this year aside from those listed above and below that are also worth noting on this years list. Chief among them is the departure of longtime BBDO Asia chief Jean-Paul Burge who had been working in the region for the past 20 years, including the last 7 as Asia chairman & CEO. After moving to Europe, he wa replaced in March by Tze Kiat Tan (known to many simply as 'Z') who remains in Shanghai.  


Another longtime APAC CEO was replaced this year as Charlotte Lee moved from Mindshare to OMD to helm the Omnicom media agency regionally. Her hiring followed the departure of another 20-year veteran in Stephen Li who had left in 2021.


At RGA, Asia chief Tuomos Peltoniemi decided to pack up and return to a more client-facing regional role at Accenture Song, allowing the agency to recast its Asia leadership with Dorothy Peng promoted to SVP, managing director for Asia. 


Edelman also got a new APAC chief this year, pulling over Warren Fernandez from the media publishing side to replace Stephen Kehoe. Fernandez was editor-in-chief of The Straits Times in Singapore, where he has worked for the better part of 30 years


Finally, John Riccio was promoted from ANZ chief to APAC president of Dentsu's Merkle, replacing Zhengda Shen (also known to many simply as 'Z'), who retired. 


6. Merge purge

Promoted: Rupert McPetrie
Reassigned: Mark Heap, Kyoko Matsushita
Out: T 'Gangs' Gangadhar

When an agency merger happens, the first 'streamlining of operations' usually involves some tough choices in eliminating duplicate leadership. In the case of WPP's EssenceMediacom merger, change was already afoot at APAC level in January when MediaCom CEO Mark Heap announced a move to Europe to lead sister agency Mindshare. That opened the door for the promotion of Greater China CEO Rupert McPetrie.


So when the merger was announced later in the spring, it was time for the smaller agency, Essence, to brace for impact as the much larger Mediacom largely took control. At the APAC level, it meant saying goodbye to Essence CEO T 'Gangs' Gangadhar after 14-years at GroupM.  Meanwhile, Essence's global chief, Kyoko Matsushita, who was well known to the region and previously held the APAC role, was reassigned as WPP's new CEO for Japan, bringing her back to the region as she relocated from San Francisco to Tokyo. 


5. Wieden our appreciation
RIP: Dan Wieden


The global advertising industry was saddened by the passing of Dan Wieden this year at 77 years of age. Known as the brains behind Nike's famous 'Just Do It' tagline, Wieden's influence reached far and wide as creatives and marketers alike paid tribute to one of the industry's most creative minds and inspiring leaders who defended his agency's independence in order to produce the best work it could. As an enduring reminder of his legacy, Cannes Lions has renamed its Titanium Lions as the Dan Wieden Titanium Lions.


4. CMOs = Chase more opportunities
Out: Rupen Desai, Lisa Ronson 
Jumping to new roles: Francis Flores, Richa Goswami, Julie Nestor, Suresh Balaji, Sunshine Farzan


Brand marketers have a lot more to contend with these days as more are being called on to serve as brand and customer experience leaders in a post-pandemic period when customer expectations are hitting new heights. Most CMOs are taking up their critical roles with gusto, and with it, their own self-worth is rising putting their own personal brands and professional experiences into play.


As such, we again saw many changes from key marketers in the region. Rupen Desai, regional VP of the World Federation of Advertisers stepped back from his CMO role at Dole to focus on helping multiple brand sustainability efforts through his consultancy.  Lisa Ronson wheeled her cart loaded with experience through the checkout line at Coles in Australia. Francis Flores had his fill at Jollibee in the Philippines and opted to ring up a new position at telecom operator Smart.


Financial brands in particular have had their CX stretched by new fintech advances in banking, insurance and payments and we've seen CMOs opt to get on board with brands that may be fast-tracking advances.  This year, HSBC saw Richa Goswami leave her second stint at the bank to become group CMO at Fidelity. It also lost Suresh Balaji after 17 years, who departed for a global marketing role at Standard Chartered Bank as did Sunshine Farzan who moved over from Tricor Group. Manulife, meanwhile had no insurance on Julie Nestor, who tapped out to buy-into a priceless new role as Mastercard's top Asia marketer. 


3. Flipping the bird
In: Elon Musk
Out: Half of Twitter staff including its entire comms team


Perhaps the biggest mass exit in the industry this year has come from the big tech platforms. After years of draining some the best talent away from agencies, some players might now be hoping for some return flows after mass layoffs at some ecommerce platforms like Shopee and some social media giants like Meta and Twitter.


Twitter, however, remains a special case, with the entrance of a new owner operator in Elon Musk whose first move was to cull half of the company's staff globally, including many in marketing and communications. Unfortunately for the platform, employees weren't the only exit, as advertisers have also headed for the doors, at least initially, over brand-safety concerns. 

2. Rings of fire
Arrested and resigned: Shinichi Ueno
Still in hot water: Haruyuki Takahashi and others investigated for Olympic bid-rigging at Japan's biggest ad agency networks, including Dentsu, Hakuhodo DY, ADK and Tokyu agency.


The implications of a mass Olympic bid-rigging scandal in Japan continue to be felt across the marketing communications industry. The first to fall was ADK's group president and CEO, Shinichi Ueno who resigned a day after being arrested following an office raid by Tokyo police. But Dentsu, Hakuhodo and Tokyu agency have faced similar raids with investigators now digging into allegations that agencies paid kickbacks to secure contracts related to Olympic events. A former senior managing director of Dentsu, Haruyuki Takahashi, in particular is feeling more heat as the one responsible for awarding various marketing and sponsorship contracts. 


1. Dentsu does its again
In: Rob Gilby
Promoted: Cheuk Chiang, 
Out: Wendy Clark, Phil Adrien, Merlee Jayme


For several years now, Dentsu has featured more prominently in this annual feature owing to its higher rates of management churn. Dentsu's Asia-based leadership is also larger than other networks, so this is somewhat to be expected. But just when we figure most leadership has been set, another wave of changes seems to roll through. This year, however, could be the end of of the widespread changes as the global corporate restructure has been completed, its agency portfolio has largely been reduced to six key brands and the financial picture is stabilising. 


But 2022 has been another unquestionable year of management change at Dentsu from the global level to the regional level, down to the Asian market level. The year started on 1 January with a new Group CEO, Hiroshi Igarashi, at the helm and ended the year with a new simplified global management structure put in place to bring its Japanese and international businesses in sync. In precursor to this, we saw the Dentsu International CEO role eliminated as Wendy Clark made her exit. On a regional level, Rob Gilby was brought in from Nielsen to be Dentsu's new APAC CEO, a role vacated by Ashish Bhasin last December. Dentsu Creative's APAC CEO Phil Adrien left for Google in Dublin and was replaced by Greater North CEO Cheuk Chiang. Another notable exit was the departure of former APAC chief creative Merlee Jayme to focus on her own passion projects. 


As if that wasn't enough, Campaign also reported on the following in 2022: 


(This article first appeared on

Campaign India

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