Mumbai: Arvind Sharma, chairman and chief executive of the Indian sub-continent at Leo Burnett, has decided to quit to pursue business interests outside the industry after 30 years at the advertising agency.

“As I approach the company-defined age of 58 (for retirement), I would like to start something totally new," said Sharma. “I look back at my 30 years at the agency and 21 years of leading it with a great deal of satisfaction."

Saurabh Varma, currently serving as regional chief strategy officer of Leo Burnett Asia Pacific, was named as chief executive of Leo Burnett Group India, effective from 1 November.

Nitish Mukherjee, a director on the board of the company, will play a key role in this transition as a strategic consultant. He will work closely with the local and regional leaders of Leo Burnett to ensure the smooth running of business, the company said.

The announcement was made by Tom Bernardin, chairman and chief executive, Leo Burnett Worldwide, in a statement on Monday.

“We are fortunate to have a strong management team on ground in India and equally fortunate in having the bench strength in the region in naming Saurabh to this role... His combined experience and knowledge of having worked across creative, media and digital agencies is invaluable as we look to elevate the agency to its next stage of development in India, a key market for the network globally," Bernardin said in the statement.

As chief strategy officer of Leo Burnett Asia Pacific, Varma was closely involved in the management of regional and global accounts. He has over 16 years of experience in the business and has worked across categories on brands such as Indian Oil, Lakme (Unilever), Vicks (P&G), NIVEA, Fosters, Philips, HP, BlackBerry and Samsung.

In his new role as CEO for the India operations, Varma will report to Jarek Ziebinski, president, Leo Burnett Asia Pacific.

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