Staff Reporters
Nov 10, 2021

40 Under 40 2021: Sujith Rao, Mediabrands

A data guru, Rao has been instrumental in helping to develop Reprise into the leading performance marketing agency in Malaysia.

40 Under 40 2021: Sujith Rao, Mediabrands
Proven performers with plentiful potential in the APAC marcomms industry

Sujith Rao

Managing director

As the data guy, he makes magic out of numbers. Simply put, Sujith Kumar G Rao is the unknown celebrity of Mediabrands. He makes the people and business of Mediabrands look good with data.

After starting his career with a series of roles doing business analytics for startups, Rao was soon headhunted by Mediabrands with an initial remit to consult digital first brands like Malaysia Airlines and KFC about their analytics. However, within five years, he has reimagined Mediabrands’ stance on media—connecting the dots between data, media and creative to deliver business outcomes. Today he runs Reprise, a global leader in performance marketing and the third biggest Reprise market in APAC, and data consultancy Inventure.

Rao took on the Reprise mantle in 2020. Within a year, he transformed the tech business from a -60% margin in 2019 to +3% in 2020 and +8% in 2021. He has been instrumental in the diversification of the business, identifying and creating new revenue streams through partnerships within affiliate marketing, ecommerce and data-consulting solutions like (CDP/DMP). Today, these new streams contribute 5% of overall Mediabrands revenue. Furthermore, in 2021, he grew the Reprise direct business by 55% with four new business wins in six months totalling US$5 million: Campbell (regional), ProDiet, Monash University and Desaru Coast.

As a leader Rao believes in merit, openness, and collaboration, and he encourages this constantly in his team. He lives by the mantra: ‘if you win take the clap, if you fail, we take the fall’. This is his vital ask in his role as a collaborator. As part of honing this culture of collaboration within the agency, all levels within the team are encouraged to share their latest work, innovations and learning at monthly townhalls. Understanding that most of his team are introverted, he allows them to choose their mode of presenting—in groups or via pre-recorded video.

Rao’s team is among the first in Mediabrands Malaysia to embrace disabled people within the workforce as part of DEI goals. As a starting gateway, the team is preparing to undergo disability equality training, with plans for the immediate working team to enrol in a sign language course to better communicate with their new Deaf hire. In addition, Rao’s immediate leadership team has five women in eight leadership roles. He believes in providing opportunities where they are due, and in the past year, two women leaders at Mediabrands have been promoted from within.

Proven performers with plentiful potential in the APAC marcomms industry


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