Cheong will retain his positions as head of Tribal Worldwide Singapore and chief digital officer of DDB Group Singapore, but work closely with Patrick Rona, president of Tribal Worldwide Asia-Pacific and chief digital officer of DDB Group Asia-Pacific.
Cheong said the role had been set up to complement Rona’s activities and that they would operate as something of a “SWAT team”. He said he would draw on his experience in building the Singapore operations to drive growth in the areas of technology, social and in particular partnerships with digital platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Google.
“We want to increase the level of our partnerships to be almost at the innovation level, where we can co-create products,” Cheong said.
Tribal DDB no longer has a regional chief technologist, but Cheong noted that every office in the region had a technology lead. He said he would work closely with the individual offices to identify the specific needs of each market in terms of technology. He said he aimed to promote knowledge sharing between markets and move towards an “open-source” approach.
However, Cheong’s primary focus at the present time will remain on Singapore, where he works closely with local clients, especially in the government sector. He will also report to DDB Group Singapore chief executive David Tang. Cheong said his Singapore role was already essentially regional in scope given his involvement with regional Singapore-based accounts such as Unilever and Fonterra. He said there would be a gradual transition with a replacement digital head for Singapore as the scale of his regional activities increased.
In a statement, Rona praised Cheong’s ability to work effectively across a broad range of sectors and for his approach to teamwork. John Zeigler, chairman and chief executive of DDB Group Asia-Pacific, Japan and India, described Cheong as “one of our most talented leaders in the region”.