In his new role, van Motman (pictured) will be based at Dentsu’s regional headquarters in Singapore, and will be responsible for Dentsu Network operations in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, The Philippines, Australia and New Zealand.
He will also be a member of Dentsu's Global Operating Committee. He will report to Tim Andree, senior vice president of Dentsu and president and CEO of the Dentsu Network, who is based in New York.
The hiring of a non-Japanese person to lead operations in Asia is a first for the company.
Van Motman told Campaign Asia-Pacific he is not replacing anyone, as this is a newly constructed region. However, Kunihara Matsushima, who is now a member of the Board of Dentsu, and also a vice chairman of Dentsu Network, had headed up a larger Asia footprint including the territories van Motman now leads.
Van Motman resigned from DDB in August.
"I always believe that it's not a matter of nationalities but about the best person for the job," van Motman said. "In this case Dentsu has decided that the best person was a non-Japanese as they also focus on what's needed from a hard and soft skills perspective."
After leaving DDB, van Motman said he had planned to have a slightly longer break before deciding on next steps. But Dentsu has become very committed to being a global player and "the realization of this seriousness was a major part of my decision making", he said.
The commitment to be a leading player outside of Japan is evidenced by Dentsu's creation of the Dentsu Network and the appointment of Andree as well as the Aegis acquisition in July, which adds global media muscle to the mix.
"My appointment, and undoubtedly other actions in the future, are continuous signs of a changing Dentsu," van Motman said. "Obviously this is not a status quo appointment, and the attraction for me is that this is something very unexpected and a challenge that involves building, structuring, creating and putting my ideas into reality. That fits my previous experience—DDB Greater China was all about that—and ambition."
Andree called van Motman a "consummate professional" with deep knowledge of Asia, adding that his experience managing pan-regional operations and accounts will be invaluable as the network seeks to grow its business with Japanese, multinational and local clients.
Van Motman, who has a mixed heritage including Dutch, Indonesian, and Portuguese ancestry, began his career in 1989 in his native Netherlands. He has spent more than 20 years in senior account and regional management positions at DMB&B, Leo Burnett and DDB in various European and Asian markets.