GroupM is changing its regional leadership structure, dissolving APAC-level management in favour of running four sub-regional markets that will report directly to global leadership.
The move eliminates the current role of APAC CEO Ashutosh Srivastava who will be exploring new opportunities within WPP, though he will remain with the GroupM business through the end of April to help transition to the new model.
“Ashutosh has been an exceptional leader for WPP and GroupM and a vital partner to our clients across APAC for more than two decades,” said GroupM global CEO Christian Juhl. “We are deeply grateful for everything he has done to advance GroupM’s position as the leading media investment management group in the region and set our teams up for continued success.”
From May onwards, GroupM will be helmed by its leaders of four market clusters in the region as follows:
- Greater China and North Asia (Korea and Japan), led by Patrick Xu
- South Asia, led by Prasanth (“PK”) Kumar
- Southeast Asia, led by Himanshu Shekhar
- Australia and New Zealand, led by Aimee Buchanan
Staff was informed of the changes earlier today. GroupM says there are no further associated redundancies. “It’s really not a cost-saving move,” Juhl said, though he acknowledges that clients are generally favourable to removing overhead. “It’s about getting our key markets closer to me and our global organisation so that we can really fuel the growth that they need.”
Juhl told Campaign the decision is part of his drive to simplify the business and remove layers, similar to a change earlier this year that saw GroupM EMEA chief Demet Ikiler move on, with Josh Krichefski leading a combined UK and EMEA mandate.
At the same time, Juhl said there is a need to bring Asia Pacific markets closer to global leadership. “APAC’s an incredibly important region for us, is quite large and is hardly a monolithic thing that we can treat as one. It’s usually one of the most important markets for our clients as they see their growth coming from particular countries and clusters there,” Juhl added. “We’ve come to the conclusion that it doesn’t really make sense to have a single region. I think most of our clients are also looking at it that way. They operate more locally in many cases as well.”
Juhl said he hopes a flatter structure will help drive media services into agencies on behalf of clients more efficiently, as offerings like data consultancy Choreograph and cross-channel performance unit Nexus play larger roles in the region. But he maintains there are no plans at this time to make any changes to APAC-level structures at its agency brands.
GroupM has been heavily invested in APAC, and China in particular, for many years. Srivastava’s career with WPP over the past 25 years, largely in leadership roles with Mindshare and GroupM in South Asia and APAC, has been central to building out a leadership position for its media agencies across the region. A strong defender of regional interests, Srivastava has been heavily involved in fostering industry reform and debate around best media practices.
“It has been a privilege to help lead GroupM through a period of such rapid growth and transformation and consolidate our market leadership,” Srivastava said. “Over the past three years, we have simplified the operating model and put in place a fabulous leadership team that is the envy of the industry; making it even easier for clients to access the best of the group and create market leading work that is recognized everywhere. With that work complete, I feel now is a good time for me to focus on other exciting developments in this dynamic and fast-growing region. I would like to wish our leadership team all the very best and have no doubt they will continue to take GroupM to new heights.”