Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Nizwani Shahar, most recently the chief executive officer of Ogilvy Malaysia, has been appointed as the new chief executive officer of Havas Malaysia. Shahar takes over from Andrew Lee, the current managing director for the group as he departs the agency following an early retirement.

In her new role, she will lead Havas Malaysia through a transformative journey of exponential growth. Her primary focus will be on fostering collaboration and partnerships, driving new business momentum, and building and leading future-ready teams. 

The appointment is effective immediately, and she will report directly to Alberto Canteli, CEO and chairman of Havas, Nordics, CEE & Middle East, SEA, Korea & Japan.

She brings with her a wealth of experience, having spent 12 years at Ogilvy Malaysia and serving as their CEO for 4 years. Throughout her career, she has demonstrated a remarkable ability to build strong brands and effectively integrate businesses and capabilities. Additionally, she is a staunch advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusivity, with a track record of driving profitability and talent retention.

Speaking on her new role, Shahar said, “Havas’ approach to integration sets it apart, and one of the primary reasons I chose to join this agency is its exceptional model supported by a high level of integration and robust digital capabilities. Moreover, the inspiring leadership at the helm, dedicated to realizing the vision of a truly integrated agency, further resonated with me. I’m truly excited to take on the new challenge and look forward to working with the team.”

Meanwhile, Canteli commented, “I would like to thank Andrew for his contribution to our Malaysia operations and wish him the very best for his future endeavors. He has played a pivotal role in driving and expanding our creative business in Malaysia.” 

He added, “Nizwani’s extensive experience and proven commercial acumen and ability to foster business growth makes her a natural choice for the leadership role, and I am certain that under her leadership, we will further consolidate and strengthen our foothold in this important market.”

Lastly, Lee said, “It has been a privilege working with the team during an important period of transformation and growth. I am confident under the leadership of Nizwani, the agency will continue to drive growth and achieve success.”

Shanghai, China – McCann Relationship Marketing (MRM) has announced that Jonathan Beh has joined the agency as its chief executive officer for China. The appointment takes effect on September 1, as he will be reporting to Ghassan Harfouche, president at McCann Worldgroup Asia Pacific.

He was recently the CEO of Kinesso & Matterkind China, and brings into MRM a diverse lineup of hands-on experience of both programmatic and performance marketing, across multiple sectors including automotive, banking and finance, consumer electronics, retail e-commerce, as well as the media and entertainment sectors.

Prior to the aforementioned roles, he spent several years with WPP’s GroupM agencies and other networks.

Speaking on his appointment, Beh said, “I have long admired the work of MRM and their mission of helping businesses grow meaningful relationships with people. MRM operates at the intersection of creativity, strategy, technology and data, I and am looking forward to leading their talented China team to drive client business through transformative creative solutions.”

Meanwhile, Harfouche commented, “I am excited to have Jonathan onboard. His vast experience in data, technology and media, compounded by his deep understanding of client needs in China will add tremendous value to the offering of both McCann Worldgroup China and MRM China.”

Lastly, Kate MacNevin, global chief operating officer at McCann Worldgroup and global chairwoman and CEO of MRM, said, “I’m thrilled to welcome Jonathan to the McCann Worldgroup network. China is a hugely important market for MRM, as the world’s second largest digital marketing ecosystem, with over 3/4 of ad spend coming from digital media. Jonathan has an excellent track record in navigating this complex business environment and has the right skills and expertise to take our business to the next level.”

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Multinational insurance company FWD Group has announced that Aman Chowla has been appointed as the new chief executive officer for its Malaysian life insurance business. Moreover, the local life insurance business will be also rebranded from Gibraltar BSN Life Berhad to FWD Insurance Berhad.

Chowla brings with him more than 20 years of experience in the life and general insurance industry, having held chief executive officer and chief operating officer roles for multinational insurance companies across Southeast Asia.

“FWD’s commitment to changing the way people feel about insurance, and its exciting growth plans in Malaysia, were defining factors in my decision to join the company. I look forward to working closely with my new colleagues to bring FWD’s easy-to-understand products and services to more people in Malaysia,” he stated.

These developments for FWD Group in Malaysia follow the recent completion of the company’s investment, together with other investors, in the business formerly known as Gibraltar BSN, on 3 April 2023.

Meanwhile, Binayak Dutta, managing director for emerging markets and group chief distribution officer at FWD Group, commented, “We are delighted to welcome Aman to FWD to lead and grow our life insurance business in Malaysia. It’s an exciting time as we introduce our FWD brand to even more Malaysians and create a full-service offering in the country.”

Dutta added, “Aman is a seasoned industry veteran with great career experience and success in Malaysia. We look forward to leveraging his deep expertise in a market with fantastic long-term growth potential.”

FWD Group first entered the Malaysian market in 2019 as a provider of family takaful products via FWD Takaful Berhad. Later that year, the company established its regional technology and innovation hub in Kuala Lumpur, with a focus on delivering best-in-class technology and supporting innovation across the whole of FWD Group’s business.

Singapore – Media agency Wavemaker has named Sindhuja Rai as its new chief executive officer for Asia-Pacific. She is based in Singapore and reporting to global CEO Toby Jenner. Her role will take effect in September this year.

In her new role, Rai will drive the strategy and execution of how Wavemaker positively provokes growth for their clients and people around the region. 

She will also join the Wavemaker Global Executive team, as well as the GroupM APAC Leadership Team ExCo, and collaborate closely with GroupM and WPP leaders across the region to connect the breadth and depth of the group’s capabilities to drive growth on behalf of Wavemaker’s clients.

Rai is recently with Mondelez International as its senior director for global media investment and AMEA consumer experience. She has been with the company for over 12 years and changed Mondelez’s media ROI, driven by creative excellence, engaging brand activation and a constant consumer centric approach. 

With over 20 years in marketing, her experience also spans media agencies, amongst others Mindshare and Publicis Media.

Speaking on her new role, she said, “I’m truly excited to join the many familiar faces at Wavemaker. Over the years, I’ve enjoyed the collaborative relationship with everyone at the agency, and I’ve been impressed by its culture of positive provocation.”

She added, “I’m now looking forward to building on this established success while utilising my client experience to drive meaningful growth for Wavemaker, it’s clients and our people in the region.”

Meanwhile, Jenner commented, “I’d like to thank Mondelēz and Jon Halvorson in particular for supporting Sindhuja’s transition from Mondelēz to Wavemaker. It’s all credit to Jon how highly regarded Sindhuja is. She is smart and driven with huge integrity. She knows our business well from our relationship with Mondelēz, and her regional leadership and global sensitivity make her ideally positioned to take Wavemaker to the next level.”

Jon Halvorsen, global SVP for consumer experience at Mondelez International said, “Over the past 12 years Sindhuja has been a standout performer within the Mondelēz organization. Under her leadership we’ve consistently delivered double digit ROI growth, led the industry/region in digital excellence and pioneered critical new capabilities in consumer data, personalisation and AI.” 

He added, “Her ability to drive volume and build strong brands through standout consumer experiences is unique and unparalleled. I know that in her new role she is going to be an amazing partner to many media leaders, category presidents and CMOs as she has been at Mondelēz.”

Singapore – Manulife in Asia has appointed Phil Witherington, most recently the group chief financial officer, as its new chief executive officer. Through this role, the current Manulife Asia CEO Damien Green will now chair the Manulife Financial Asia board.

Witherington will continue reporting to Roy Gori, president and CEO of Manulife, and remain on Manulife’s executive leadership team.

Before joining Manulife in 2014, Mr. Witherington was the Asia-Pacific head of finance for retail banking and wealth management at HSBC. He also held finance roles at AIA and was a financial services specialist at KPMG.

Speaking on the new leadership team changes, Gori said, “Phil has helped strengthen our solid financial foundation as we enter the next stage of our journey. We have bold ambitions for Asia and Phil’s deep appreciation of our team, market, and opportunity across the region will help accelerate our growth agenda for this critical part of our business.”

He added, “I’d like to thank Damien for his leadership of Manulife Asia this past year and our Hong Kong business before that. Throughout his tenure, his commitment to our customers, team and agents has helped secure our competitive position across the region.”

With Witherington leaving his chief financial officer position, Manulife has also appointed Colin Simpson to take over said position. 

Sydney, Australia – Sue Squillace has been appointed as the chief executive officer at Mediahub ANZ, following an agency leadership restructure after Andrew Livingston, executive director for Asia-Pacific has resigned from his role to relocate to the United Kingdom.

In her new role, Squillace will oversee the Mediahub Sydney and Perth offices, as an extension of Mediahub’s joint venture partnership. Livingston will partner with Squillace over the coming weeks to transition the Mediahub clients and team in Sydney.

Moreover, she will also consolidate Mediahub’s offering as a standalone, full-service media agency working alongside Mediabrands’ agencies UM and Initiative, that will also operate as a hub with sister agency 303 MullenLowe (part of Attivo Group). 

Lastly, she will continue to sit on the ANZ leadership team for joint venture partner Attivo, providing high level strategic approaches and integrations across 303 MullenLowe and other Attivo agencies in ANZ, and will also join the Mediabrands executive leadership team.

For Mark Coad, CEO at Mediabrands, restructuring Mediahub’s leadership and reinforcing the business as a standalone full-service media offering, alongside UM and Initiative, demonstrates Mediabrands’ commitment to finding new solutions that accelerate growth for their business and for their clients.

“Given Sue’s enviable media background, and role within Attivo, she makes the perfect leader to evolve and grow Mediahub’s offering. She will now focus on driving sustainable growth outcomes for Mediahub’s clients, leveraging Mediabrands’ global network, and future-proofing the business as it navigates the complexity of the industry’s rapidly changing tech and digital landscapes,” Coad said.

Meanwhile, Squillace commented, “Media continues to be a power driver of business growth, and having a model that reflects both current and future client demands is a business imperative. After some time reviewing our offering with market and client consultation, we believe these changes will provide Mediahub with a competitive advantage, reflecting what clients have been asking for.” 

She added, “It also ensures it has the backing it requires in the future as economic pressures continue to bite. Now is the time to accelerate, and bring bigger and better ideas and solutions to the table. Mediahub is now in a strong position to offer its clients the power of an indie backed by the capabilities of a global network, with all the tools, technology and data that go with a joint venture. Teamed with the opportunity to tap into the creative powerhouse that is 303 MullenLowe, it provides a market leading offering.”

Hong Kong – Dentsu Hong Kong has appointed Tom Wan as its chief executive officer for Greater Bay Area (GBA) solutions. In his new role, Wan will spearhead growth of the newly established business team across borders, realising the group’s commitment to contribute to their clients’ strategic growth in the region and weave capabilities with this important development paradigm for decades to come.

In his new role, Wan will report to Simone Tam, Group CEO of dentsu Hong Kong and work in partnership with the wider leadership team, across dentsu’s capabilities across creative, media and CXM.

Wan encompasses more than 30 years of experiences; beginning his career in New York and Hong Kong before spending the last 20 years in Mainland China. He then joined dentsu Hong Kong in February 2023.

Prior to joining dentsu, he served as the president of experience in Ogilvy China, which he oversaw the relaunch of the agency’s digital transformation and experience unit that covers the martech, data analytic, CRM, e-commerce, UI/UX, and performance media practice. He has also served as the CEO of IPG Mediabrands China and led key positions in the wider WPP Group APAC.

Speaking on his role, Wan said, “I’m excited to return home to Hong Kong after spending [over] 20 years of my professional career in the mainland market, be able to contribute my knowledge and experience to our clients’ growth strategy & initiatives in the GBA region.”

Meanwhile, Tam commented, “GBA is a primary growth strategy for many of our clients for the next decade. With Tom’s deep experience and knowledge of the mainland market, we are confident we can truly offer strong, practical business solutions for clients who are interested in GBA.”

Wan’s appointment follows the recent appointment of Dan Paris as the chief growth and product officer for Dentsu Asia-Pacific.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Capital A, the holding company of low-cost airline airasia, has launched a new entity called ‘airasia brand co.’. It has also appointed Rudy Khaw, most recently the chief brand officer at airasia, has been named the entity’s chief executive officer.

The airasia brand entity, which also sees Capital A CEO Tony Fernandes taking charge of the chairman role, will take ownership of the brand’s intellectual property (IP) portfolio, including all brands and marks across the Capital A group.

Khaw is a seasoned brand expert and has over 16 years of experience in brand management. During his recent role, he has successfully led several strategic branding initiatives for airasia that resulted in significant revenue growth.

Speaking on his new role, he said that through the new entity, they will explore new and exciting ways to connect with people through expanding airasia’s brand influence across diverse industries, unlocking its true potential.

“The airasia brand has become a symbol of value, quality, and connection. Our red planes have become an icon in the Asean aviation industry; together with our brand exposure work over the last 22 years, the airasia brand has gone from a little known brand in Malaysia, to an Asean and now a global brand seen all over the world. We are thrilled to embark on this new venture and take our brand to even greater heights,” he said.

Meanwhile, Fernandes commented that they aim to set new benchmarks in brand development and extend their brand’s relevance and create meaningful experiences beyond transactions for millions of airasia fans worldwide.

“The launch of airasia brand co. marks a significant milestone for all of us. The airasia brand is something we have always taken pride in – built by our Allstars, and we recognise its immense potential to go beyond aviation. I am confident that with Rudy’s expertise in brand management and his proven ability to drive growth, we will be able to find new spaces for people to express brand love and loyalty,” he stated.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – BigPay, a financial services company venture from Capital A, has announced that Zubin Rada Krishnan, recently the country head for BigPay Malaysia, as its acting chief executive officer following the news of CEO and co-founder Salim Dhanani stepping down from his role to pursue new ventures outside of the company.

Before joining BigPay, Krishnan was a partner with the Boston Consulting Group for over six years, where he focused on financial services, including: the design of digital banks in Singapore and Malaysia; large-scale bank operating model transformations; and the build & launch of innovative digital products. He was also a co-founder of Tuas Capital Partners, a private equity fund. 

Prior to that he also played a strategy role at Hong Leong Bank where he helped set up a new subsidiary in Vietnam, and supported Malaysia’s last major retail banking merger. He began his career in KPMG Business Advisory, supporting financial institutions across financial risk and strategy.

Speaking on his appointment, Krishnan said that they have a stellar team behind the business, who are instrumental in deepening and expanding their footprint in Malaysia and across ASEAN, with a planned launch in Thailand later this year, followed by Indonesia and the Philippines.

“I am excited to be given this opportunity to drive BigPay’s mission. I will leverage my nearly 20 years of experience across financial services and capital markets to better provide our customers with the accessible and supportive products they need to live better lives. With an increased focus on our customers and deeper collaboration with airasia Superapp, I am confident in achieving greater growth for BigPay, which saw 56% YoY growth in revenue and a 43% improvement in gross profit margins,” he said.

Meanwhile, Colin Currie, president and CEO at airasia Digital commented, “The management would like to thank Salim for his leadership as CEO since December 2020, and for being a part of BigPay’s journey to challenge conventional banking in Asean. We are excited to welcome Zubin Rada Krishnan as acting Group CEO of BigPay, who has been the country head for Malaysia for nearly a year.” 

He added, “Zubin takes the helm of this great company at a time of strong, sustained performance and we are confident that he will continue to grow BigPay’s mission of giving Southeast Asians the financial services they need to level up their lives, one transaction at a time. We are excited for BigPay’s next step as we seek to tighten our links with AirAsia guests to provide a seamless travel payment experience within the Capital A ecosystem.”

Lastly, Dhanani said, “It has been an immensely humbling experience serving as the CEO of BigPay, securing capital to scale, developing a suite of financial services for our customers and diversifying revenue streams since inception. I trust that the amazing team I’ve had the privilege to work with will ensure that we have a sustainable business model scaling within the AirAsia and Capital A ecosystem as BigPay embarks on the next chapter with the new leadership.”

London, United Kingdom – Global marketing research firm YouGov has named Steve Hatch, recently the vice president for Northern Europe at Meta, as its new chief executive officer. Said appointment officially takes effect on August 1 this year.

Hatch will replace current YouGov CEO Stephan Shakespeare who will assume the role of non-executive chair at the company. Shakespeare will work closely with Hatch in the initial months of his appointment to ensure a smooth transition of responsibilities at the company.

He has over 30 years of experience leading high-growth marketing, media, and technology companies. He was appointed as Facebook’s first regional director for the United Kingdom in 2014, overseeing a fundamental evolution of the platform. In 2016, he became Meta’s vice president for Northern Europe, managing all business operations and strategy for the region, driving the introduction of Meta’s e-commerce products, and development of the company’s insight tools.

Prior to joining Facebook, Hatch spent 15 years at WPP, his final role being CEO of media agency MEC. Before joining WPP, Steve worked in strategy roles at Omnicom and Y&R.

Speaking on his appointment, he said, “YouGov is a business I have closely followed and admired for some time. The company is in a strong position with a clear strategic direction and significant investment in technology and international reach driving robust client demand and consistent top-line growth performance in recent years.” 

He added, “I look forward to working closely with Stephan, the wider board and the full YouGov team on the great opportunities ahead in the third strategic growth plan as we look to create further value for customers, partners, shareholders, and colleagues.”