Staff Reporters
Nov 18, 2020

40 Under 40 2020: Celeste Cheong, Holmes & Marchant

Even as her rivals have withered, this fast-rising executive has grown her agency’s operations in a downturn, even as her high-speed career has rocketed ahead.

40 Under 40 2020: Celeste Cheong, Holmes & Marchant
Top-tier talent transforming APAC media and marcomms 

Celeste Cheong

Managing director, Singapore
Holmes & Marchant

Since the start of her career—and even in college—Celeste Cheong has lived her professional life in the fast lane. From being asked to join by-invite events and being mentored by top industry professionals, to accelerated management training programs and warp-speed career advancement, Cheong has always been on the fast track. This culminated in her becoming a managing director of a top design agency within a decade after she got her first role in the field.

At her very first job at The Bonsey Partnership, Cheong was promoted to lead the agency’s account for Procter & Gamble’s fabric and home care category in the AAI region after just one year. She joined Holmes & Marchant, Singapore as group account director for their newly won Unilever account (jumping two levels from her previous agency role as client manager).

Today, in addition to her managing director responsibilities for the 30-person Singapore office, Cheong is also Holmes & Marchant’s global lead on Unilever.

Cheong is on this list not just for her rapid career advancement, but also for her ability to think of and react to wider issues—such as the pandemic. Even as the world was hammered by COVID-19, and the marcomms industry buckled from its onslaught, Cheong was nimble enough to roll with the blows and bring her agency out on top.

She spearheaded a three-part process that included launching evidence-based marketing tools and training (and signing up two large Unilever brands), building out a wider breadth of offerings, including ecommerce and retail capabilities and finally building an insight-driven innovation offering—typically a high-growth area after an economic downturn.

Cheong has also taken a series of measures to ensure her team was safeguarded during this time, ensuring no salary cuts even as the competition withered. The Singapore office is on track to grow by over 50% in revenue this financial year and by over 8% in profit. Not only this, its pitch-conversion rate stands at 80% year to date, up from 50% last year.

Always looking to drive further improvement, Cheong also engaged a C-Suite level executive coach for an off-site two-day workshop for her mid-senior level team and collaborated with a digital-first executive coaching firm to develop a growth program for five high-potential staffers.

Top-tier talent transforming APAC media and marcomms 


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