Brittney Rigby
Jan 29, 2024

Looking back, looking forward: Mindshare’s Helen McRae

In a brand new series for Campaign Asia, chief executives across adland in APAC reveal their hopes and fears for the year ahead, while reflecting on the highs and lows of 2023, both personally and professionally.

Looking back, looking forward: Mindshare’s Helen McRae
Helen McRae might have been with GroupM's media agency Mindshare for two decades, but tenure doesn’t equal stagnancy. 2023 was a year of professional energy, coping with loss, and exploring her new home with her boys.
2023: Best and worst
In 2021, McRae was announced as Mindshare APAC’s new chief executive, after a stint as EMEA and Worldwide Team CEO based in London. She’d lived in Asia before—30 years ago, when she worked at agencies in Thailand, Malaysia, Korea, and Australiabut this time, she was bringing her sons.
2023 was her family’s first full year of living in Singapore. And as McRae says, “It was a joy to show my boys the places I lived in Bangkok and Pusan. Much had changed, but the dynamism of the culture and landscape remains. There is still much to explore!”
McRae loved traveling for work too, visiting cities and countries across Mindshare’s Asia-Pacific network, and spending quality time with local teams and clients.
“Every day [I was] learning something new and being constantly amazed at how great the people I work with are.”
The media agency ended the year as Campaign Asia’s Media Network of the Year, Digital Network of the Year, Greater China Media Agency of the Year, and Greater China Digital Agency of the Year.
In her personal life, though, there was grief and familial health worries. She says that getting older, “you realise that living life to its fullest is important.”
“It was very hard watching my husband lose his father and see my own suffer a dramatic health setback,” McRae shares. “It brings new meaning to work-life balance and it means that you need to remind yourself of what is really importantyour family, your health and your own wellbeing.”
2024: Hopes and fears
McRae emphasises she’s excited by 2024, not scared of it: “I don’t tend to be fearful of many things or worry about things overly.”
“Perhaps that is a factor of getting older, you have seen many peaks and troughs so you just keep looking forward and with a glass-half-full mentality,” she muses. Maybe working at the same agency for 20 yearsMcRae joined Mindshare in 2004helps too; not only have you experienced peaks and troughs, you’ve witnessed the same organisation weather them, or in McRae’s case, led the same agency up and over and through them.
2024 will be a year for Mindshare to bed in 2023 new business wins, such as Unilever across Australia and New Zealand, and to continue fulfilling its promise of ‘Good Growth’, the proposition it launched alongside McRae’s promotion in 2021.
And like many advertising leaders around the region and the world, McRae is personally and professionally keen to keep a watchful eye on the continued progress and momentum of artificial intelligence. It’s a reminder to keep learning, to keep being curious, to keep up with what’s new and what’s next.
“The advent of AI in 2023 is going to exponentially change everything even more in 2024,” she says.
“It will have a profound impact on every aspect of our lives from professional and personal. It also gives me the opportunity to learn more skills and grow my own understanding and capabilities. And that is what I look most forward toan ongoing learning experience; it keeps you focused, involved, and interested in all the new things that we can do.”

Brittney Rigby is a journalist, editor, and communications lead based in Sydney. She was previously head of communications at DDB Group Australia and deputy managing editor at Mumbrella. 


Campaign Asia

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