Ankita Agarwal | Director, ad operations | IPG Mediabrands: At just 28, Ankita Agarwal has made a name for herself as a leader who can stand her ground. “At such a young age, she can effectively hold the attention of any senior internal and external stakeholder in a room,” says Jarrod Martin, global president, Mediabrands Insights. Agarwal began her career with an Indian startup agency and was promoted to business manager within two years. Aged 25, she took control of the ad operations team at IPG Mediabrands in Australia. She has been a driving force in setting up a 24-hour centralised global ops team, and her team has delivered a 200 percent increase in profits.
Aileen Yuan | Regional head of brand and marketing of corporate and institutional, commercial and private banking, Greater China and North Asia | Standard Chartered Bank: Aileen Yuan’s dedication to her company might just be the example that the industry is looking for: she has been promoted six times in her nine years at Standard Chartered. Yuan joined the corporate banking department in China as its first marketing professional in 2007. She gained the trust of management and went on to grow the department. She now heads a team in Greater China and North Asia, with expertise in cross-border marketing. She has a passion for building relationships and a philosophy of fostering empathy.
Rachel-Ann Wicks | Marketing manager, Asia-Pacific and Japan | Zerto: Rachel-Ann Wicks dropped out of university after just one week to start her own marketing promotions company, and has never looked back. Since taking her first corporate position in 2009, she has built a reputation as a hi-tech marketer par excellence. She joined Zerto as its third employee in early 2015, and has been integral to building the company’s teams and relationships across the region. Believing that “no company exists in a silo”, she values partnerships with suppliers and seeks objective advice from outwith her own company.
Lyndon Morant | Head of strategy, Japan, Korea and Taiwan | Mindshare: Lyndon Morant has been with Mindshare since he graduated from university, and over a decade the agency believes it has honed him into “one of the world’s foremost strategic planners”. Morant has a clear vision of what the agency of the future should look like, and works to ensure Mindshare’s staff have the right tools and skills to meet that — and has served as a mentor on programmes such as MediaWorks to spread that message wider in the industry. An avid sports fan, he has come into his own as part of the Nike comms team over the last five years. Morant channels this passion for sports into his work, showing the dedication of an athlete training for a major competition.
Indy Khabra | Managing director | Amnet Australia: Newly promoted to managing director of Amnet Australia — his third career progression in two years since joining Dentsu Aegis Network’s programmatic trading agency — Indy Khabra’s star is rising fast. He now leads a team of 71 in five offices across ANZ, two of which have opened in the past year. Khabra has built a dedicated video team, bringing exponential growth in revenue, and has been a vocal advocate of programmatic TV, demonstrating the system’s speed and efficiency with Australia’s first PTV campaign. He has also taken the lead in developing Camelot, DAN’s premium private marketplace which is designed to enable the network to secure tier-1 inventory for clients. Drawing on his background as a professional footballer, he has introduced a team-building programme, including an annual “camp conference” for all staff.
Michael Lu | Director of marketing | Dell Greater China: In the seven years that Michael Lu has been in charge of Dell’s China marketing, he has taken the brand into new territory with a push to expand its social presence and ramp up its brand recognition and value. The brand now boasts the most engaged social media fan base in the computing industry in China. In 2013, Lu launched ‘Dell piggy bank’, the first social-commerce platform for a computing brand in China, and this has netted US$30 million in revenue by successfully converting social traffic into qualified sales leads. His award-winning XPS social influencer campaign has also generated some 50 million organic video views on social digital video and resulted in double-digit market share growth for the brand’s high-end models.
Lisa Wang | Head of marketing, APAC | State Street Global Advisors: Lisa Wang is constantly on the lookout for positive ways to disrupt the industry. She is dedicated to creating meaningful user experiences, an example of which is the online game for State Street Global Advisor’s SPDR US Equity campaign. Wang believes that a campaign has to be effective and easy to track for marketers to understand how they can engage their audience. Wang began her career at Northern Trust’s rotational programme in Chicago, then later joined Van Eck Global in New York. At State Street Global Advisors in Hong Kong, she set up the marketing team and has grown it to 10 members.
Rahul Asthana | Senior director, baby and childcare and marketing innovation | Kimberly-Clark: When Rahul Asthana joined Kimberly-Clark from P&G in 2013, its baby and childcare division in Southeast Asia was declining and losing market share. Asthana worked with the markets to relaunch the brand with upgraded products, revamped packaging and a renewed focus on the consumer. This resulted in a sustained turn-around with strong topline and market-share growth. Under Asthana’s supervision, Huggies has steadily gained share in the region with topline growth accelerating year-on-year. He has also established a clear digital framework that has resulted in better engagement and sales across all markets. As a result, a significant portion of KC’s growth is coming from ecommerce, and the firm is leading the way in programmatic media, CRM and ecommerce marketing.
Takahiro Hosoda | Senior creative director | TBWA Hakuhodo: Takahiro Hosoda has been making waves in the global creative scene — often in a Quicksilver True Wetsuit. The youngest-ever creative recognised and awarded by the Japan Advertising Agencies Association first gained global attention with the multi-award-winning ‘3D on the rocks’ project for Suntory. Last year, he also created and launched the surf-to-business outfit for Quicksilver. More recently, Hosoda developed the Xtreme Gold Cup to promote the Nissan SUV X-Trail, which used off-road landscapes as ‘extreme’ golf courses. The event earned Hosoda five wins at Cannes, including two Gold Lions. This year, Hosoda joined the line up of judges at both the Cannes Lions and at Spikes Asia.
Yasmin Sanders | Senior director, programmatic TV | AOL Australia: Yasmin Sanders has a history of spotting trends and preparing for them. While at Network Ten (2007 to 2011), she spotted the trend towards digital and worked to learn the skills for a multiplatform world. This foresight led to her appointment as senior director, programmatic TV, for AOL — the first post of its kind in Australia. Sanders has led initiatives that include a trio of TV bootcamps that reached more than 500 buyers, marketers and industry participants. Sanders is also pioneering a private programmatic TV marketplace between MCN’s trading platform and One by AOL.
Amber Liu | VP of LEO Digital Network and founder of Amber Communications | LEO Digital Network: Amber Liu founded Amber Communications in 2006, and built it into one of the most renowned digital agencies in China. As VP of LEO Digital Network he grew the company’s market value to US$4.5 billion, and conceptualised ‘+A’, an incubator for creative talents. While his ambitious streak has raised eyebrows, Liu is not one to rest on his laurels. The entrepreneur is also a professor at the Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology.
Jina Jang | Director of marketing and strategies | Asiance Korea: Jina Jang fits the persona of a marketer-storyteller, having earned her degrees in English literature and animation before joining the industry. As project manager of South Korean digital agency Portfolio, she worked with big names such as Microsoft, Nissan and Google. Jang was later involved in the agency’s merger discussion with Publicis Groupe before joining Asiance Korea in 2012. Sensing a cultural shift in the agency’s multinational team, Jang was determined to break away from hierarchy prevalent in traditional Korean corporate culture. She accomplished that by setting a brainstorming culture in motion to encourage open discussions among staff of all disciplines and nationalities.
Dhiren Amin | General management, marketing | Heinz ABC: It is not easy to convince men to wear sunscreen, as Dhiren Amin can attest after running global brand development for Vaseline Men with Unilever. He was behind the award-winning ‘Worst-face scenario’ campaign for the brand’s SPF moisturiser line. Amin achieved great results by restructuring the skincare range, from package design, product formulation to brand proposition. Amin joined Heinz ABC in Indonesia in July, and currently leads its sauces, paste and ketchup business.
Sitha Nuon | Media director | Havas Riverorchid: Nuon joined Riverorchid 12 years ago as receptionist, with no formal qualifications and little work experience. She worked her way up the agency ladder and in 2015 became head of the agency. Under her leadership, the agency successfully retained the media account for Unilever’s Blue Ribbon ice cream against a three-way pitch, and went on to win the Coca-Cola media account. With no losses and several other smaller wins, the agency grew more than 50 per cent in 2015. Chaisucha Chotipurk, regional director of East Asia for Merisant, who has known Nuon since her days as a receptionist, says: “I continue to watch both Sitha and the business she leads go from strength to strength with pleasure.”
Bianca Walton | Senior marketing manager, digital & hearing help | Australian Hearing: At digital and hearing help, Bianca Walton launched a telephone and webchat helpline that allows customers to call a hearing expert from home, a first in Australia. Bill Davidson, managing director, Australian Hearing, credits her with “single-handedly elevating our digital capabilities, and helping thousands of colleagues and customers”. Walton has lobbied to promote digital marketing, saying the industry needs marketers who are passionate about information systems and digital media. “I want to help organisations challenge the traditional marketing and communications roles of the past,” she says.
Cheryl Lee | Media management ASEAN and Japan lead | Accenture: Cheryl Lee’s fiercely competitive streak rewarded her with accolades early on in her career — a taste of success that spurred her to set the bar high. In five years at Accenture, she has grown her client base six-fold, multiplied revenue by double digits, and expanded her team from four to 12. The youngest regional lead across Accenture’s global offices, she has also generated the highest increase in billings across the APAC region. Insightful beyond her years, she has recognised the pressing need for transparency, and encourages her team to “dig a little deeper” to present clients with all the facts.
Judy Liu | Co-founder and general manager of operations | CuriosityChina: Starting out as a humble office assistant at Chinese tech start-up TongTong, Judy Liu came a long way to be vice-president of Gaopeng China (Groupon China). She is now the co-founder of CuriosityChina, a digital platform for luxury brands. Liu is passionate about harnessing technology to help brands reach out to China’s burgeoning middle-income consumers. The Hunan native, who arrived in Beijing in 2005 with limited English proficiency, has been the role model for her staff, 75 percent of whom are female.
Gautam Reghunath | Senior vice-president and branch head | Dentsu Webchutney: Originally based in Mumbai when he joined Dentsu Webchutney in 2010, Gautam Reghunath seized the opportunity to relocate to Bangalore, an underperforming market for the agency then. Within two years, Reghunath and his team managed to turn Southern India into the agency’s most profitable geography, following his aggressive strategy of acquiring new clients. He also identified new revenue streams including influencer management and content and video production.
Ly Viet Vu | Co-founder and managing director | Mirum Vietnam: Born in Canada to Vietnamese immigrants, Ly Viet Vu moved to his parents’ homeland in 2007 to co-found Sofresh, a production agency that went on to play a key role in the country’s digital media revolution. The solid reputation Vu established for introducing innovative technological advances, including Vietnam’s first interactive video campaign, led to the agency being snapped up by WPP two years ago and incorporated into Mirum. Vu’s Vietnam team now performs as Mirum APAC’s regional digital production hub, and has won the contract to produce global digital marketing for ASUS laptops. A strong believer in chaos having a positive impact, Vu encourages staff to embrace it, and to be prepared to fail in order to learn.
Clemente ‘Third’ Domingo | CEO and chief creative officer | IdeasXMachina Advertising: Raised in one of Manila’s most violent districts, Third Domingo has come a long way to run his own award-winning ad agency, and the youngest creative on the Creative Guild of the Philippines’ board. He started out as a junior account executive at McCann-Erickson, then made copywriter when his creative flair became apparent. Domingo now manages some of the industry’s biggest names, including Toyota, Philippine National Bank, Pepsi, SM, Super8, OLX, Philippine Star, Kao, Danone, Asia Brewery, GNC, Wellmade, and Facebook. His infectious energy and passion have won him many fans, including former Philippine press secretary, Ignacio Bunye: “Oh, he’s going to become president of the country one day. No doubt about it.”
Anish Daryani | CEO | Phibious Indonesia: Daryani joined Phibious Indonesia in April after a successful tenure as deputy managing director for the network’s Vietnam office. During his year at Phibious Vietnam he grew its business income by 30 percent, and increased headcount from 45 to 65. Phibious Group CEO Mervyn Cheo credits Daryani with winning the network 20 brands across Vietnam and Indonesia, contributing to business growth in excess of 60 percent. Daryani is also keen to embrace opportunities to use advertising to contribute to society and is proud of work such as HelloSehat.com, a platform that helps Indonesia bridge the medical information gap arising through its fractured medical infrastructure.
Andrea Lennon | SVP, general manager, Asia-Pacific | Critical Mass: Under Lennon’s leadership at Critical Mass, revenue and headcount have both doubled in just 12 months. She knows what it takes to be an inspirational leader: “All good leaders are passionate, but the truly great ones I’ve known have found a way to marry passion with patience.” She believes good work takes time, and cultivates an environment where people are set up to succeed. A passionate advocate for gender equality, Lennon is now working on a podcast series to shed light on issues corporate women face.
Jing Pan | Chief marketing officer | Dianrong.com: As a first-generation online marketer from integrated agency OgilvyOne, Jing Pan brings a special insight into brand building. She was also the first Chinese employee transferred to the agency’s headquarters in New York. The Harvard Business School graduate was part of the founding team of internet advertising firm AdChina that was later acquired by the Alibaba group last year. After spending five years building AdChina, Jing ventured into P2P lending platform Dianrong.com. Setting her sights on capturing the broad Chinese market, Jing built Dianrong both as a reliable wealth management brand and a hip, fun brand for the social-media-crazy crowd.
Joseph Barratt | CEO | Mutant Communications: Joseph Barratt is a fine example of a journalist who successfully made the transition to PR. After dipping his toes in PR with the Australian High Commission in Singapore, the former political and business journalist became aware of the potential for an agency to bridge the gap between the big players and smaller boutique firms. Mutant Communications quickly grew from a one-man show in 2012 to a 16-member team today. With no spare time or money to invest in staff training, Barratt could only afford to hire impeccable writers during the early days. That gave the agency an edge in building its name as a leading content provider soon after its launch.
Trong Ronakiat | Integrated art director | DDB Sydney: This year has been a golden one for Ronakiat. His ‘#comeonin’ campaign for the Sydney Opera House won nine Lions at this year’s Cannes including a Gold in mobile, making it the most awarded work from Australia. Ronakiat started as an exhibition designer in Bangkok and then an airport furniture designer in Auckland. His career in advertising was inspired by a Colenso BBDO billboard for Mercedes outside the Auckland airport. He started an internship with DDB — and later, got to work with the writer of that billboard.
Huanyu Wu | Vice president, communications | MasterCard: At MasterCard, Huanyu Wu oversees integrated marketing communications and social communications. With more than 12 years of experience under his belt, Wu has worked across the full spectrum of communications including localised brand strategy, executive profiling, new media strategy, crisis management and corporate citizenship. Prior to clinching the top communications position at MasterCard, Huanyu Wu spent eight years with Weber Shandwick and Ogilvy Public Relations.
Rachelle Huynh | marketing technology director, Asia-Pacific | McCorkell & Associates: Marketing automation has fascinated Huynh since she first encountered it as a webmaster for Lattice Semiconductor. Her career in marketing technology has progressed from strength to strength, and in 2014 she moved from the US to Australia to take up her current post. Huynh's focus is demystifying marketing technology and is working to address the skills gaps in Asia. An active member of the Association for Data-driven Marketing and Advertising, she regularly publishes white papers and, in partnership with M&a account director, Bronwyn Cook, has developed the agency’s guide to any technology implementation project.
Levent Guenes | CEO | Havas Creative Group: A Havas veteran of 14 years, Levent Guenes has been instrumental in Havas Creative’s growth in the ASEAN region from “an obscure footnote in the industry” to a respected player with a strong base in nine countries. An accountant by training, Guenes nonetheless sees himself as more a gardener than a builder, taking an organic view of the ‘tree’ he aims to nurture. Guenes has taken the Havas Village concept, originally a single-country model, and extended it throughout the region, resulting in a high level of collaboration between the network’s Asean markets.
Chan Woei Hern | Executive creative director | Ensemble IPG Mediabrands: Chan’s moment of creative revelation was the day he watched Burger King’s subservient chicken. He became driven to find ways to involve the audience. Although a senior creative with NagaDDB, he saw a chance to take the integration of technology, data and storytelling further and joined IPG Mediabrands to help lead its creative hotshop, Ensemble. In under two years, Chan has helped transform Ensemble from a four-man startup to a healthy mid-level agency.
Shannon Kalayanamitr | Co-founder and chief marketing officer | Orami: Founded with two partners in 2012 as Moxy, Kalaynamitr’s Asia-based, female-focused ecommerce platform grew to become a top online lifestyle store in Thailand. She became group CMO in 2014, tasked with expansion and growth in Southeast Asia. Last year, Moxy merged with a top mother-focused Indonesian ecommerce site and rebranded as Orami, which recently received an investment of US$15 million from a group including Facebook co-founder, Eduardo Savarin.
Yogesh Foflia | Director, enterprise and media solutions | TubeMogul: In two short years at TubeMogul, Yogesh Foflia has made significant progress with the firm. Its media agency business grew from zero to US$1.4 million in nine months and Foflia’s division has grown, overall, by 50 percent year-on-year. He was head-hunted for the position from Performics Singapore, where he was tasked with building up its SEM business. Foflia started his career at Google, where he devised a process which resulted in a net revenue increase of at least US$12 million per quarter.
Fitri Mydin | Head of campaign management | Petronas: Since 2012, Fitri Mydin has been striving to reshape corporate communications strategies at Petronas — Malaysia’s only Fortune 100 company — to strengthen its business credentials and boost brand awareness. Fitri has injected a lighter, more human touch into content for the brand’s corporate communications campaigns. A series of thought-provoking ads centred around national festivals has enabled the brand to leverage its status as a source of national pride, and Fitri has demonstrated a deft touch in handling that over a time when the country has been rocked by tragic plane crashes and political scandals.
Antoine Malin | Social media lead | Saatchi & Saatchi: What fuels Antoine Malin? Coffee and a desire to be the best, it seems. Malin’s distinctive strength lies in strategic brand positioning in the digital realm. At Saatchi & Saatchi, he started the Lexus social media platforms, growing the brand’s Facebook account to 1 million in a year, and running its first Twitter ad campaign in 2013. Malin has also launched Padina, a botanical eyelash conditioner that became a hit in six months. Last year, he started his own Formula 3 Racing Team, competes in the Japanese F3 National Championship.
Rohan Philips | Vice-president, product and strategy | Xaxis Asia-Pacific: Philips joined Xaxis as part of a founding team of three in 2012 where he was responsible for the launch of 14 markets and the set up of regional operational hubs. Xaxis has now grown to more than 260 employees in the region. At Xaxis, he has launched a unique data partnership with Chinese Giants, Baidu, Tencent, Alibaba and Union Pay which enables marketers to create a consolidated view of the consumer across China’s walled gardens.
Shawn Schrader | Regional creative director | Google Asia-Pacific: Since arriving in Tokyo a decade ago, Schrader has worked as designer, art director and creative director on some of the world’s leading brands including Apple, Nissan and Panasonic. Over the past three years Shawn has accumulated over 40 industry awards including the Cannes Grand Prix. He joined Google in last year as regional creative director for the newly formed Brand Studio Asia-Pacific, he’s in the process of bringing concept driven creatives in-house.
Shann Biglione | Chief strategy officer and business transformation | Publicis Media: Shann Biglione joined ZenithOptimedia in 2014 with no prior media agency or China experience. Yet when Publicis Media was formed in 2016, Biglione was chosen to lead the strategic and business transformation teams and products across all the media group’s agencies. He is currently part of a core team of six global leaders within the group focused on building new solutions for business transformation.
Brian Leong | General manager and creative director | MullenLowe Profero Shanghai: A laid back and accomplished leader may seem like an oxymoron but not in Brian Leong’s case. The gaming aficionado’s childhood love for Counter-Strike, set him on the path to carve a career in VR content and gaming. Leong is always ready to help his clients and colleagues. He has established a work culture that allows for flexible work hours, and empowers his staff to reach their potential. It comes as no surprise that he has maintained a high retention rate in his company.
Peter Larko | Head of marketing and PR | Mercedes Benz: Since taking control of Mercedes Benz’s marketing in Hong Kong in 2014 — three years after he joined the company in China – Peter Larko has transformed the brand’s marketing and communications efforts in the city. He has turedn heads in the relatively traditional auto industry with his unconventional communications projects and innovative use of new technology. However, Larko balances short-term goals with the long-term needs of the brand, ensuring creativity fits with the brand’s image.
Pranav Harihar Sharma | Executive creative director | Rediffusion YR India: A prolific scriptwriter and ad director, Pranav Sharma exudes creativity from his every pore. His real strength lies in being able to tie this together with the business acumen he acquired during his MBA. Sharma is effectively a one-man agency: he writes the script, sells it to the client, and then directs the shoot. He remains healthily aware that he can never have all the skills necessary, looks to hire the right talent to plug those gaps – then learn from them.
Raymond Chin | Chief creative officer | SapientNitro China: Since he joined SapientNitro China last year, Chin is credited with leading its turnaround. With the formation of Publicis.Sapient, Chin also helped to shape the creative departments of Razorfish and DigitalsLBI.