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If You’re the Global CEO, Move to Asia… – MMXLII

If You’re the Global CEO, Move to Asia…

Ok let’s not say that’s a rule just yet, but the ‘strategic relocation’ of digital agency network Profero’s global CEO to Singapore sure raised some eyebrows. With more and more brands looking to expand in Asian markets overseas, could this become a growing trend?

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In what is billed as a “strategic relocation,” digital agency network Profero announced a move of headquarters for its global CEO, Wayne Arnold, from New York to Singapore.

The move is being undertaken because Mr. Arnold says the bulk of growth opportunities with advertisers are coming from Asia, and so he wants proximity to the clients and offices (which in Asia include Beijing, Shanghai, Seoul and Tokyo) with the best growth potential.

It makes Profero –one of a small number of independent digital shops with scale– the only that has a global CEO based permanently in the region. Across the industry, there aren’t too many examples of agencies exhibiting the view that having your leader based in New York or London is old-school. But there are signs it could be moving that way.

Last August WPP’s Maxus, a media network under GroupM, named Vikram Sakhuja global CEO and he’s based out of India. That was a first for a global media agency network, and Mr. Sakhuja has publically shared his view that in a “boundary-less world” the heads of major companies should be able to be based in any country of their choice, not necessarily where it’s historically been dictated.

Profero was founded in London in 1998 by Mr. Arnold and his brother Daryl. Since then, it’s expanded into the U.S., further into Europe, into Australia and Asia. Its clients include Unilever,Diageo, Lufthansa and the New York Times.

Said Mr. Arnold in a statement: “2013 will be the first year our Asia Pacific operations will be larger than EMEA and the Americas. This is a major milestone.”

Given the European economy has been so challenged and the U.S. is so well-saturated for many agencies, it begs the question of whether global CEOs should be based in a growing region such as Asia or Brazil. At the same time, most agencies would contend that having regional heads in those countries is sufficient.

The agency does have a chief of American operations, Aaron Reitkopf, who is continuing to lead operations in the region.

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