Babar Khan Javed
Dec 13, 2017

The top 5 executive exits of 2017

Our listicle-based look back at the year in APAC marketing and communications continues, with the region's top 5 departures.

The top 5 executive exits of 2017

In the last couple weeks before the holidays, we're taking a look back at 2017—listicle style. Today, the most significant executive exits.

1. Richard Lee departs PepsiCo after 19 years

Lee, who held a curious dual role as SVP and chief content officer of PepsiCo Greater China, as well as chief marketing officer of Tingyi Asahi Beverages (Chinese beverage manufacturer and distributor in which PepsiCo holds equity) left to "pursue other passions". The long-term “Bring happiness home” campaign was created under his stewardship.

2. TBWA names new APAC head as Philip Brett takes global role

After 21 years in the region, the 2016 Creative Agency Head of the Year took on a London-based role as global COO (the network chose Ian Pearman, previously CEO of Omnicom sister agency AMVBBDO in London, to take over as Asia president). Brett came to Singapore in 1996 and set about establishing Tequila in 10 markets across the region. In 2003, he was made regional MD of the below-the-line agency. In 2009, after Tequila was acquired by Omnicom and integrated with TBWA, Brett was put in charge of South and Southeast Asia. He was named TBWA Asia president in 2015, when longtime Asia head Keith Smith reduced his role.

3. Edelman's David Brain steps down

Announcing his May departure on his blog, Brain, president and CEO of Edelman Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa, explained that "I don’t want to do the same thing for more years, wonderful though this firm is and much as I love the work and the people and am committed to the mission." Under Brain's tenure, both the European and Asia businesses doubled.

4. MasterCard's APAC marketing chief resigns

Paving his way to becoming the global head of digital and retail marketing at Standard Chartered Bank, Ahmed resigned from his role as SVP head of marketing APAC at Mastercard in March. He took up the position in 2013 and earned a spot in Campaign's 40 under 40 the year after by merging nine separate MasterCard in-house digital agencies into a single digital lead agency to improve consistency.

5. Airbnb China head leaves company

After just six months with the company, Ge Hong abruptly departed his role as Airbnb’s China head in October, reportedly following allegations about a relationship with a staff member. He was replaced by Nathan Blecharczyk, the co-founder and chief strategy officer of Airbnb. Under Hong, Airbnb China’s team in Beijing grew from 30 to 120 employees, while doubling the number of China listings on its service compared to one year earlier. The company faces a strong competitor in the locally grown Tujia.

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