HONG KONG — Paul Heath, CEO and chairman of Ogilvy & Mather Asia-Pacific, will move to a global role in New York this summer, and the network is appointing co-CEOs to fill his shoes in the region.
Heath will take on the role of worldwide executive director and chief growth officer, reporting to worldwide CEO John Seifert. In an exclusive interview, Heath told Campaign Asia-Pacific that the move to New York follows the expansion of responsibilities he took on in January when Seifert was appointed worldwide CEO.
Chris Reitermann, currently CEO of Ogilvy China, and Kent Wertime, currently COO of Asia-Pacific, will step up as joint CEOs for APAC — the first time the network has built such an arrangement here.
Heath will continue as chairman for Asia-Pacific and will join the board of the newly formed WPP AUNZ, the result of a recent merger of WPP's Australia/New Zealand properties and STW, to represent Ogilvy's interests in that market.
Reitermann will remain based in China, will continue as China CEO and will also lead North Asia. Wertime will continue to be based in Bangkok and will be responsible for Southeast Asia and India. Hong Kong will continue to be the network's regional headquarters, however.
Jerry Smith, currently regional president of OgilvyOne Asia-Pacific, will take over Wertime's role as COO of O&M Asia-Pacific. He will be based in Hong Kong, reporting jointly to Wertime and Reitermann, and will continue to lead OgilvyOne.
In the new role, Heath will lead and manage a worldwide growth plan for securing new clients and managing a portfolio of clients across the globe. "I will continue to be involved with the clients I've been working on in this part of the world, which include Unilever and Coca-Cola," he said. "I will be helping to shepherd our global relationships with them."
Co-CEOs suit the times
"The region is significantly larger than it was eight to nine years ago when [former worldwide CEO, then APAC CEO] Miles Young went to New York," Heath said. "The way the world is operating and the current focus on clients ... the channel of conversations and actions doesn't go through regional layers. It now goes to the lead market or the biggest market. China has its own reporting line, as does India and Singapore. This move is a reflection of the way the world has become a little flatter. We don't have to pummel everything through a regional management hierarchy anymore. In some respects, we should remove a layer of regional management."
Heath had earlier noted that the regional HQ, as it exists for Ogilvy Asia-Pacific, is a "rather grandiose name for a very small and fluid structure." There is little point, he added, in moving the new CEOs to Hong Kong and then having them travel most of the time.
Furthermore, Heath said, clients highly prize local insight — particularly in markets such as China and India. "I think there’s an opportunity for both of them [Wertime and Reitermann] to make sure we’re leaders locally and experts in local market opportunities."
Heath's outlook and legacy
Heath said that despite the rocky start to 2016 due to the economic slowdown in China and Hong Kong, he believes he leaves Ogilvy in a strong position. "We are well along on a three-year plan to build growth areas such as ecommerce, content, consulting and production capabilities," he said.
Building up these areas will be a focus for the network through a mix of partnerships, training and acquisitions. "Some of these skills, such as ecommerce, will benefit from acquisitions, but we will be selective," he said. "Consulting has delivered very well for us. It is now 25% to 30% of our business, so we will double-down on it. In terms of content production, Social@Ogilvy is a very fast-growing piece of the business. We will be looking at new models and how we work with a production arm, H&O, in terms of offshoring and a hub-and-spoke model."
Looking back on his stewardship of Asia-Pacific, Heath said, "It's been really nice to have stayed in front, to continue the success and momentum that Miles [Young] left."
Seifert praised Heath's accomplishments at the network's APAC helm. "Our position as the largest agency in Asia-Pacific and our stellar creative reputation in the region is owed in great part to Paul and his leadership team’s hard work over the past six years," Seifert said. "I am very grateful that he will be partnering with me to achieve our global growth ambition. We are also incredibly fortunate to have continuity in leadership with the promotions of Chris, Kent and Jerry. I have no doubt they will continue to build upon our leadership position in the region."
This article first appeared on campaignasia.com.