GREY group global COO Nirvik Singh
GREY group global COO Nirvik Singh

Advertising agencies tap Indian talent for global leadership roles

  • The latest is Nirvik Singh, who is set to take over as the first COO of New York-based Grey Group
  • Earlier, Indians taking over global roles were less frequent, with most being restricted to South Asia

NEW DELHI : Indians are increasingly taking up top roles in some of the world’s largest advertising companies. The latest is Nirvik Singh, who is set to take over as the first chief operating officer of New York-based Grey Group.

Last week, Japanese ad giant Dentsu promoted Ashish Bhasin to a newly created role of Asia Pacific chief executive officer.

In January, Piyush Pandey took over the role of global chief creative officer at Ogilvy & Mather, the creative agency of world’s biggest communication firm WPP Plc. With more than three decades of experience in the advertising industry, Pandey, who has been associated with Ogilvy since 1982, is the first Indian to take up a global role at WPP.

“Indian talent in advertising has come of age and they deserve to lead big agencies. Indians are inherently hard working and they believe in making a difference in the roles assigned to them," said Srinivasan Swamy, chairman of marketing communications firm RK Swamy Hansa Group. He added that India is an extremely complex market. “So if someone has mastered the complexity the person will be able to deal with markets such as Asia and Europe. By nature frugal, Indian leaders are able to make money and make a firm cost-efficient," he added.

That is not all. In a 6 September interview, Dentsu’s Bhasin said, “APAC is an extremely important market for any company because that’s where the growth is coming from. Countries such as India and China with large population are driving this growth."

In a February interview, Ogilvy’s Pandey said: “I was part of the global team for many years; now I’m the captain of the team. I’ll just have to play well."

Earlier, Indian executives taking over global roles were less frequent, with most roles being restricted to South Asia. Vikram Sakhuja, for instance, has served as worldwide CEO of GroupM owned agency Maxus while Prasoon Joshi took over the role of chairman of APAC operations at McCann WorldGroup in 2014.

Nirvik Singh is an ad veteran with over three decades of experience who has served as chairman and CEO of Grey Group Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa since 2016, a post he will retain based in Singapore.

As COO, Singh will lead the development of Grey’s borderless integrated marketing model and identify acquisition targets.

“For three decades, Nirvik has been a prime mover in Grey’s growth and development in Asia, and most recently, in the Middle East and Africa," said Michael Houston, worldwide chief executive of Grey Group. “I know he will bring the same single-minded dedication and achievement to his expanded responsibilities. He will work closely with me to broaden our reach and resources for the future."

Singh’s business acquisitions have strengthened Grey’s presence in countries including Bangladesh, Pakistan, South Korea, the Philippines, Thailand and Nigeria. “I’m looking forward to implementing Grey’s global strategic plans and working with diverse talents and teams from across the different regions. We have seen success in pulling in our collective resources for our borderless strategy, which encompasses agility and seamless creativity," said Singh.

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