Carat’s five-month hunt for a permanent APAC CEO is over, and the agency has named Jonathan Chadwick, previously CEO of Maxus Australia and chief strategy officer for GroupM Australia, to the role.
Sean O'Brien, who has been acting as interim CEO since the January departure of Kevin Walsh, will become chairman of Dentsu Aegis Network Media, overseeing MKTG and Posterscope as well as media agencies Carat, Vizeum and Dentsu X.
This is O'Brien's second time departing as Carat's APAC head. He served as APAC CEO for six years until Walsh's appointment in April 2017, but then stepped back in as interim CEO when Walsh departed abruptly in January. He is also currently overseeing Carat China in the interm after Ellen Hou stepped down in March.
While affirming that Walsh's tenureship had not worked out even though he ascended to the role from within the agency, O'Brien said Chadwick's appointment marks a change for the agency. He said he is hopeful that it will instill stability after the recent upheavals. At the same time, O'Brien said he had put in place several structural changes to Carat's product offerings, especially in the content and ecommerce divisions, since he took over in January.
Meanwhile, Chadwick, whose appointment will be effective in early July, described his new role as a "big opportunity" and confirmed that both parties took a long time getting to know each other and formulating the role.
"From not knowing the Dentsu Aegis Network to really take the time to think and consider everything that needs to go into such an important role... and given that we have both taken the time, we are in a really good place to commit long term, this is a really long-term exciting opportunity for both of us," said Chadwick.
Chadwick was CEO of Maxus Australia from October 2012 to November 2015 and chief strategy officer with GroupM Australia until January 2017. He later spent time working with startups and consulting.
According to him, the two main priorities for his new role will be establishing client servicing excellence especially on growing international clients in Singapore as well as attracting the best talent, including the search for the new China CEO.
"People and culture have been a real focus for my career in the past six years, really ensuring that we are attracting and retaining the best people in the business and creating opportunities for them to grow in the future," said Chadwick. He added that his background in both regional and country roles would serve him well in understanding the needs of both parties. "The success of agency network is depending on the strength of the network across all countries, and China is such an important market so that will be an important focus for me," said Chadwick.