Staff Reporters
May 7, 2019

TBWA names new Asia president

Sean Donovan moves from South Africa for the role most recently held by Ian Pearman.

Sean Donovan
Sean Donovan

TBWA today announced that its South Africa group CEO Sean Donovan has been promoted to president of TBWA Asia. He will continue in his South Africa role until a replacement is found.

Donovan takes over from Ian Pearman, who lasted 20 months in the role before leaving advertising to join a startup in Singapore. Donovan will be responsible for driving growth in the region and further developing TBWA’s specialist offerings in APAC around data, health, e-commerce and consultancy services, the company said.

“South Africa will always have a special place in my heart, and I’m incredibly proud to attribute my knowledge and creative compass to the African market,” Donovan said. “It now feels like the right time to bring this knowledge and energy into a market as enterprising and progressive as Asia.”

Donovan has been TBWA South Africa group CEO since 2016, running seven operating companies across the country and overseeing 19 affiliate agencies in 14 other African markets. He first joined TBWA in 2010, when the agency bought an equity stake in OpenCo, where he was founding partner and managing director. In 2015, Donovan became managing director of TBWA Hunt Lascaris in Durban, before becoming group CEO.

Troy Ruhanen, CEO of TBWA Worldwide, said Donovan has “a knack for building chemistry across markets and leads with a roll-up-the-sleeves management style", adding that he is the "ideal person to lead the vibrant and diverse markets of Asia".

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