Making their mark on the world

Regional heads are the cogs of global agency networks, and lead unique lives. John N. Frank profiles 10 of the best

Regional heads are the cogs of global agency networks, and lead unique lives. John N. Frank profiles 10 of the best

1. Matthew Anderson: Regional CEO, Europe, Asia, Middle East, and Asia- Pacific, Ogilvy PR Worldwide

Years in current position: 2

Location: London

Offices supervised: More than 50

Major accounts: Ford, Nokia, Glaxo

To say Matthew Anderson oversees a region doesn't begin to grapple with the vastness of the Ogilvy PR Worldwide network he runs. His "region" stretches from Europe through the Mideast and into Asia and the Pacific.

The 15-year Ogilvy veteran had been running Asia for the agency. Thanks to his successes in that region, about two years ago, he was asked to take over Europe as well.

"What I'm trying to do is set new priorities and new opportunities for our clients" around the globe, he explains.

His mission today, he says, is to "bring the best of what happened in Asia to Europe."

Fourteen of the agency's clients do business in Europe and Asia. "There's an incredible degree of interdependence," Anderson points out. "The regions aren't isolated anymore."

Anderson has heads of Asia and Europe who report to him, while he reports directly to global CEO Marcia Silverman.

About 40% of his time is devoted to administrative and planning functions, while 10% goes to interacting with other regional heads. He spends about half his time dealing with clients, which puts him on the road 50% to 60% of the time.

Anderson wants clients to know that they can rely on Ogilvy for their PR needs on whichever continent they plan to do business.

Speaking of PR agencies in general, he chides, "Through the years, networks have made too many promises, many of them unfulfilled."

That's not a position he ever wants Ogilvy to be in. In the eight years he ran Ogilvy Asia, the agency saw its size there quadruple. In his time overseeing Europe, Anderson has become a champion of PR across the region, appearing at major economic conferences to tout the benefits of PR to senior executives.

2. Kevin Bell: Regional director, UK and South Africa, Fleishman-Hillard

Location: London

Years in current position: 1

Offices supervised: 3

Major accounts: Procter & Gamble, Chevrolet

To uninformed observers, Kevin Bell's region - the United Kingdom and South Africa - might seem to be a bit spread out and disconnected.

But that's not the case, says Bell, a 25-year veteran of the PR business. "It makes good common sense," he says of his regional affinity. "South Africa and the UK have always been pretty close."

Bell spends about 40% of his time interacting with clients and another 30% on administrative and planning functions. He reports to Fleishman-Hillard regional president Dave Senay.

"The most important thing is managing the people," he says of his role as regional manager. On the client side, availability is paramount. "[Clients] like to know they are dealing with one person," Bell notes.

In late 2004, the agency merged brands such as CPR, GPC, and Herald into Fleishman. As a result, "the firm now has the critical mass needed to achieve a top-three status in the region in healthcare, public affairs, technology, corporate, marketing, and internal communications," Bell says.

While growth slowed during the recession, Bell now sees low double-digit growth in his region as technology again becomes an area of expansion. The South African market is picking up, although Bell thinks business would become even more robust there if the government abolished exchange controls and thus encouraged more foreign investment.

3. Fernando Figueredo: Managing director, Latin America, Porter Novelli

Location: Miami

Years in current position: 1

Offices supervised: 16

Major accounts: Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Qualcomm, Guatemala Tourism Institute

While it might seem strange to some that Fernando Figueredo manages Porter Novelli's Latin American region from Miami, the regional veteran knows that "Miami is seen by most Latin Americans as being part of the region." It's also easier to fly to many Latin American countries from Miami than it is from neighboring countries in South or Central America, he notes.

Figueredo joined PN in February 2004 with 25 years of experience in PR and marketing communications. He's run his own firm, taught PR at Florida International University, and handled corporate communications for Lucent Technologies and AOL-Latin America.

Today he oversees the agency's operations in 15 countries and works with affiliates in Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, and Uruguay. He reports directly to agency president Gary Stockman.

Figueredo spends about 60% of his time on client work and new-business pitches, leaving about 10% of his work week for administrative and planning functions. He handles all budgeting for the region, in addition to being responsible for regional profits and losses.

The level of PR professionals and professionalism varies from country to country across the region, which makes finding good talent and maintaining consistent quality from office to office an ongoing challenge, notes Figueredo.

But, Latin American universities have improved the level of PR education dramatically over the past decade, he adds, so "the PR profession has improved greatly throughout the region."

Journalism has also changed for the better in the region. The practice of paying journalists for story placement has disappeared, for example, says the Cuban-born Figueredo.

Latin America presents some unique challenges - one of the most daunting is helping clients prepare for and deal with executive kidnappings, Figueredo says. Kidnapping for ransom has expanded beyond corporate executives to members of their families, and such crisis situations can be extremely delicate.

4. James Heimowitz: President and CEO North Asia, Hill & Knowlton

Location: Hong Kong

Years in current position: 1

Offices supervised: 5

Major accounts: McDonald's, Motorola, American Express

James Heimowitz has been fascinated by Asia since he went to Singapore more than 20 years ago as a Fulbright Scholar. For the past year, he's run Hill & Knowlton's North Asia region, overseeing operations in China, Korea, and Japan. He reports to agency chairman and CEO Paul Taaffe.

Heimowitz spends about 65% of his time interacting with clients, and 50% of his time on the road spanning the area.

He gripes that one of the biggest problems managing North Asia has to do with cell phones - different countries use different cell technologies, so Heimowitz carries four different cell phones to make sure he can communicate no matter where his travels take him.

While H&K has five offices in the region, it also works extensively with affiliate agencies in such places as Taipei and Osaka, Japan.

While outsiders may consider Asia one continent, Heimowitz knows that his region encompasses many diverse cultures, not only across national borders, but even within a given country such as China.

"The biggest challenge for me is the cultural one" he says. "The geography is close, but the cultures are vast. We have to get our different offices to work together."

Heimowitz also advocates a consultant-like approach to PR. His experience with such firms as Boston Consulting make him comfortable being a senior-level counselor to corporate CEOs.

5. Santiago Hinojosa: President and CEO, Latin America, Burson-Marsteller

Location: Miami

Years in current position: 7

Offices supervised: 8

Major accounts: Mexican Tourism Board, Schering-Plough, Accenture

After overseeing Burson-Marsteller's Latin American region for seven years, Santiago Hinojosa can say without hesitation, "The biggest challenge is sustainable growth over a period of time. Latin America is a region that's synonymous with volatility, [and that] volatility causes me sleepless nights."

Despite his bouts with nocturnal restlessness, Hinojosa has managed to increase head count and maintain growth in the region.

Working from his regional headquarters in Miami, he oversees eight offices in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela. He also works with affiliate agencies in Guatemala and Panama.

Hinojosa spends about half his time interacting with clients, 20% on administrative functions, and 40% traveling to his offices throughout the region. He reports directly to Tom Nides, president and CEO.

Hinojosa holds twice-monthly conference calls with his country managers to keep on top of area developments. He conducts an annual managers' meeting in Miami as well. In addition, he takes part in global conference calls with Nides every two weeks.

The region has seen its setbacks during his tenure. First the dot-com bust translated into slowing economies across Latin America, and the general slowdown after 9/11 also negatively impacted business, Hinojosa recalls.

But with 9/11 now more than three years in the past, "our business in Latin America has produced annual double-digit top-line growth while our client roster has continued to grow," he says.

Burson recruits staff locally in the region and Hinojosa rates the local talent highly. But he continually works to maintain consistent quality from office to office, noting how that is a specific major challenge for any regional manager.

Hinojosa would like to see PR raise its profile across the region to help draw more talent into the profession. "What I feel we must do as an industry is continue to make it sexy to do PR," he says.

6. Glenn Osaki: SVP and senior director, Asia- Pacific, MS&L

Location: Shanghai

Years in current position: 2 months

Offices supervised: 4, plus coordinates with regional partners

Major accounts: Philips, Sunkist, Home Depot

Glenn Osaki had been running Asia and overseeing MS&L's LA office until January, when he moved to Shanghai to focus on the firm's Asia-Pacific operations, which stretch from Australia to India to Japan and China.

He oversees MS&L-owned offices in Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, and Singapore while working with regional partners such as Dentsu PR, sister firms like Publicis and Saatchi & Saatchi, and affiliated agencies across the region. He reports to MS&L chairman and CEO Lou Capozzi.

Osaki spends about 50% of his time dealing directly with clients. One of his and the firm's major challenges these days is keeping up with all the clients who seek business opportunities in China.

"We're finding that because China is such a prominent market, there are many CEOs coming through [it]," he explains. A CEO tour of China can be vastly different than a CEO media tour in the US. Chinese protocols, such as visiting with government officials, must be followed.

"Diplomatic skills are probably the most important thing here," Osaki says of the work he does for clients.

Regional campaigns must also be tailored to local country tastes and cultures. "There definitely isn't one Asia, [or] even one China," he says. "The approaches are different, programs are different, yet the client expects that their results are the same."

7. Andrew Pirie: President, Asia-Pacific, Weber Shandwick

Location: Singapore

Years in current position: 1.5 years

Offices supervised: 13

Major accounts: MasterCard, Siemens Mobile, Hitachi

Andrew Pirie oversees 13 offices including China, Taiwan, Indonesia, Thailand, India, Singapore, and even Australia. His territory includes 250 employees plus affiliate agencies in Korea, the Philippines, and Pakistan.

Pirie began with Weber Shandwick in its Singapore office in 1998 and became a co-president of the region responsible for Southern Asia in 2002. Before beginning his PR career in 1990, Pirie had been a business journalist, working as deputy business editor for a New Zealand newspaper.

Pirie spends 40% to 50% of his time either consulting with clients, building client relationships, or developing new business. Administrative duties take up the other half of his time. "A lot of this involves spending time with the office heads and advising them how best to grow their businesses," he says. He also spends time interacting with other markets to develop global accounts. Pirie reports directly to WS president Andy Polansky.

"I have to balance my time between the big-picture regional issues and giving quality time to the respective managing directors in each market," notes Pirie of his responsibilities. "Each have their own challenges to address. It's a delicate balancing act."

The SARS crisis of 2003 stands out in Pirie's mind - as it does in those of other Asian managers - as the most significant regional crisis of recent years.

"We had whole markets that were in effect quarantined," Pirie recalls. "A lot of client assignments in places such as Hong Kong and Singapore simply disappeared."

The region rebounded last year, however, with the firm seeing its 2004 revenues there go up 20% from 2003. "The growth rate was higher than this in the fourth quarter," Pirie adds.

8. Whitney Small: Managing director, Asia- Pacific, The Hoffman Agency

Location: Hong Kong

Years in current position: 3

Offices supervised: 7

Major accounts: Philips, Google, Red Hat

Agency president Lou Hoffman recalls that Whitney Small took over Asia-Pacific for his firm in May 2002, just in time to see the tech wreck in the region be followed by the SARS outbreak.

The agency survived those setbacks, and today it is on a growth path in the region. Hoffman credits Small.

"She's a real dynamo," he says. "She's been practicing PR in Asia for close to 20 years, and is one of these unique talents who can truly bridge the West and the East."

Small oversees seven offices and 43 employees in Japan, China, Singapore, and Taipei. She also works with affiliate agencies in Australia and India, reporting directly to Hoffman.

She spends about 40% of her time dealing with clients and 10% interacting with other regional heads for the agency.

Clients can become easily overwhelmed by the market diversity across Asia, notes Small. As such, she advises them not to forget that "each place is different, but that doesn't mean you should throw away everything you learned elsewhere." PR basics can be effective no matter the country they're used in, she counsels.

Hoffman's client base in the region has grown from 15 in the second quarter of 2002 to 24 at the end of 2004. Revenues over the same period increased from $582,556 to $710,000, Small says.

9. Gregory Tikhanoff: Regional managing director, Middle East, Golin Harris

Location: Dubai

Years in current position: 1

Offices supervised: 8

Major accounts: Revlon, Hyundai, New Zealand Milk

PR is in its infancy in the Middle East, a situation that makes finding talent a constant challenge, says Gregory Tikhanoff. Promising staffers are generally sent to Britain for training and for exposure to global clients with dealings in the Mideast, he adds.

Not only is he constantly in search of talent, but "you need to find the right talent to address local needs," he explains. Countries such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt have diverse cultures even within their own borders, something that must be taken into account in any PR effort, he notes.

"The biggest challenge is optimizing local resources in each market to better service our regional clients," says Tikhanoff. "This includes identifying local talent, as well as training and instilling our global culture with the local context."

Golin Harris has an office in Dubai, but works across the region through the offices of Horizon Holdings, an IPG partner firm. Tikhanoff was COO of Horizon before becoming head of Golin's operations a year ago. He reports to both Fred Cook, president and CEO of Golin, and to Rafie Saadeh, chairman of Horizon.

Tikhanoff spends about 25% of his time interacting with clients and 30% of his time traveling. He meets with other regional heads quarterly and talks to them regularly when client needs dictate it.

10. Alan VanderMolen: President, Asia, Edelman

Location: Hong Kong

Years in current position: 3

Offices supervised: 12

Major clients: Microsoft, Samsung, AstraZeneca

Alan VanderMolen oversees 251 employees in 12 Edelman offices stretching from Beijing to Australia. He also works with 14 affiliate agencies. He reports directly to agency president Richard Edelman.

VanderMolen spends 40% of his time with clients, 40% with colleagues, and 10% marketing the agency. He's on the road almost half of the time traveling outside his Hong Kong headquarters.

"The key thing is getting a consistent offering that has a high degree of relevance for your clients," he says of running a region. "The challenge is local execution."

Edelman has seen revenue in the region grow 40% over the past three years, with major activity in Korea, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. In October 2004, it expanded into India through a joint venture that VanderMolen engineered to fill a gap in Edelman's Asian coverage (see sidebar). In January, Edelman entered the Japanese market with a start-up operation.

Like others in the region, VanderMolen recalls how SARS shut business down in 2003, so this year he's keeping an eye on the bird flu issue in the area, hoping it doesn't turn into another SARS.

In the meantime, though, he's expecting a good year in India and China, where the economies are both extremely robust, he says.

Diary of a deal

When Alan VanderMolen took over as president of Edelman's Asia-Pacific region three years ago, he set his sights on expanding into India.

"It's an interesting time in India," he says, with few multinational PR agencies operating in the very hot Indian economy. He saw an "opportunity there for multinationals to do deals."

He had been familiar with Indian firm R&P Management Communications for some 10 years, having served on its board when the agency was involved in a joint venture with Burson-Marsteller, a former employer of VanderMolen.

Even after he left Burson, VanderMolen stayed in touch with Roger Pereira, founder and CEO of R&P.

He quickly recommended that Edelman pursue a closer relationship with Pereira's firm. The two agencies had worked together since 2002.

"It was just before Christmas 2002," recalls Pereira, that VanderMolen and he agreed to have breakfast while both were in London.

"His first question was about how things were. My immediate response, 'They are not the same as when you were on the board,'" Pereira recalls.

VanderMolen then hinted at the possibility of a deal between the two agencies. "It was something I hadn't given serious thought to before, but the idea appealed instantly because the chemistry between us is terrific," Pereira says.

VanderMolen brought the idea to agency CEO Richard Edelman later the same day he'd had breakfast with Pereira.

In October 2004, Edelman announced a 50/50 joint venture that brought R&P into the Edelman fold. The joint venture, dubbed R&PMC:Edelman, is headquartered in Bombay with offices in Delhi and Bangalore and representation across the vast nation. R&P had worked with such blue-chip clients as Citigroup, Japanese food company Ajinomoto, GE, Heinz, and IMAX.

"With R&PMC, we immediately become a leader in India," Edelman said at the time of the deal.

The challenge now is to manage growth effectively, not only in India but throughout Asia, where economic swings can be much more volatile than in more developed economies, VanderMolen says.

Economic uncertainties aside, VanderMolen is pleased that he was able to steer Edelman to the R&P deal.

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