Prior to officially taking on this role, Ford was appointed as the company’s interim chair after the previous CEO Bob Pickard left last October.
He will now lead the newly created senior executive leadership team including Australia CEO and market leader Christine Jones, Korea market leader Margaret Key, Genesis Burson-Marsteller principal and founder Prema Sagar, and Hong Kong market leader Matt Stafford.
Ford told Campaign Asia-Pacific that the idea of creating this new team is to get a diverse perspective and experience from the company’s most effective leaders, and let them be part of the regional senior executive team to work together on setting strategy for growth in the region, while continuing to be responsible for their own markets.
Donald A. Baer, Burson-Marsteller Worldwide chair and CEO, said its clients expect the firm to be their strategic partner, fully understanding their business objectives and supporting their corporate values, staying well ahead of communications trends and capabilities, and combining strategic thinking and breakthrough creativity with rigorous focus on getting the job done.
“The business environment is evolving not only in Asia, but also around the world,” Ford said. “The digital revolution has applied a sense of urgency and time sensitivity for clients to engage with stakeholders, employees and customers through various digital channels. Clients are looking for agencies that have strong passion for their brand and great ideas to lead to positive business results.”
Burson-Marsteller plans to examine and modernise all its offerings in the next 12 months, with some of the prioritised areas including investments in business development, client development, talent recruitment and acquisitions, according to the company.
Meanwhile, the firm will integrate its Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Shenzhen and Hong Kong offices into a new Greater China region under Matt Stafford’s leadership to align its international and domestic communications programmes more effectively for clients and strengthen integration.
Stafford will move from Hong Kong market leader to CEO of Greater China, focusing on advising its China-based clients. Former China CEO Chris Deri will leave the firm to pursue another professional opportunity in the United States.
Ford said Greater China is among the company’s key markets, which also include India, Indonesia, South Korea, Singapore and Japan.
“One of the things we focus on in China is an initiative called ‘China going global’,” he said. “It aims to help Chinese domestic companies, which not only have special focus on development in the region, but also the rest of the world, build global networks, engage stakeholders, develop customised messages, and build on-the-ground resource.”