In one of the first senior-management changes since Dominic Proctor became GroupM president, Sakhuja will move from his position of CEO for GroupM India and South Asia to take on the global remit for Maxus.
He replaces Kelly Clark, who will become CEO of GroupM North America. Rob Norman moves to the newly created position of chief digital officer for GroupM Global.
The appointment is a significant one for Sakhuja, seeing him move from a country role to one with global responsibility, but GroupM president Dominic Proctor said he is “the best guy for the job”.
Proctor told Campaign Asia-Pacific that the best thinking and momentum in the business is coming from Asia, so it is fitting that somebody from an Asian market takes on the global role.
He said the model will be a marker for the future, adding that it is a surprise that more agencies haven’t taken a similar approach.
“There is no reason why agencies need to be run out of London or New York,” Proctor said. “The world is now a small town, and the fact that our management team are spread around the globe is very fitting.”
The management changes come on the back of a strong performance by Maxus, which recorded total billings in Asia-Pacific of US$1.94 billion in 2011—a 22.4 per cent increase on 2010 levels, according to RECMA.
Proctor said given Maxus’ momentum in the market, Sakhuja will be tasked with continuing this trajectory going forward.
He denied, however, that Sakhuja’s appointment will result in growth focused in Asian markets, adding that Maxus will remain “very much a global agency”.
This development follows the elevations of Ashutosh Srivastava and R Gowthaman at Mindshare earlier this year, but Proctor said Sakhuja’s appointment it is not part of a deliberate strategy to promote senior talent from India.
“It is a reflection of where the global talent pool is right now,” he said. “Asia is a very high-growth area for us, and the fact that Vikram has experienced that type of growth is all for the good.”
Mark Patterson, CEO of GroupM Asia-Pacific, added that Sakhuja is a “world-class operator” leading a strong team in a “vibrant, thriving, ambitious agency”.
“It's very satisfying to see talent from this region taking on broader roles," he said. “He [Sakhuja] and Maxus people and Maxus clients will all win, I am sure.”
Neil Stewart, CEO of Maxus Asia-Pacific, said the role would represent new challenges for Sakhuja as he gets “his head around the world rather than the world of India”.
But he added, “Vikram is a hugely experienced guy and I think he will do a great job. It will be a challenge, but I imagine for him will be hugely inspiring and motivating.”
Sakhuja will transition into the new role over the coming months, with the search for a replacement for India and South Asia currently underway.