ASDA'A BCW grows leadership team and eyes Saudi market

ASDA'A BCW has announced a number of new hires at the helm of its Middle Eastern operations as it eyes up its regional expansion, with a strong focus on the Saudi Arabia market.

New CFO Sandra Wilson
New CFO Sandra Wilson

The firm has appointed Tim Walmsley in the newly created role of executive vice president and managing director of innovation. Sandra Wilson has been appointed as its new chief financial officer.

As part of the PR shop's increasing presence in Saudi, ASDA'A BCW has also appointed a new senior vice president in charge of its KSA (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) markets.

Sunil John, president – Middle East and founder of ASDA'A BCW, told PRWeek Middle East the identity of the new hire would be announced in the coming weeks, but revealed it was a "strategic hire" to enhance the firm's presence in the oil-rich Gulf nation.

Walmsley, former director of marketing and communications at the Dubai International Financial Centre Dispute Resolution Authority (DRA), will now lead ASDA'A Burson-Marsteller's global Digital Innovation Group (DIG) in the MENA markets.

He will be be part of the global team positioning ASDA'A BCW as 'the world’s only agency created to deliver integrated solutions across all sectors on a global scale'. Twelve years prior to DRA, Walmsley headed up the PR and social media agency Impact Porter Novelli.

A former director of the Middle East Public Relations Association (MEPRA), Walmsley has spent more than 25 years in marketing and communications and currently serves on the Committee of the Oxford & Cambridge Society UAE.

Wilson joined ASDA’A BCW as CFO in January 2019. A chartered accountant with years of experience in the communications industry, Wilson first came to Dubai in 2013 as the finance director of Havas Middle East.

Prior to moving to the Middle East, Wilson was based in Paris and was the European finance director of public affairs consultancy APCO Worldwide.

The as-yet-to-be-identified new SVP for KSA will lead ASDA'A BCW’s expansion in Saudi Arabia, a market which John told PRWeek Middle East would be the main driver of the agency's growth strategy over the next 12 months.

"We have been in the Saudi Arabia market for 15 years, having offices in both Riyadh and Jeddah, and it has always been an important market for us as it is an important market for our clients," he said.

"The Saudi market will continue to be a major one for us in 2019, and we can say we have had two new major wins in the region since the start of January - which was a bumper month - which equates to $5m of new business, which predominantly has come from Saudi Arabia.

"We are quickly expanding in the country where we already have some major contracts."

These include Saudi Arabia's mega Red Sea project, which is estimated to grow the kingdom's GDP by SAR22bn ($5.86bn) when completed, as well a s being an integral part of the Kingdom’s ambitious Vision 2030 project; a plan to reduce Saudi Arabia's dependence on oil, diversify its economy, and develop public service sectors such as health, education, infrastructure, recreation and tourism.

"We see Saudi Arabia, predominately, as well as Abu Dhabi, and, of course, Dubai, as our key growth markets in 2019," said John.

"This has led to our new - strategic - hires.This includes Tim, who is a very, very experienced hand - he has been in the region for nearly 15 years and he brings to the table a lot of experience, especially in global digital innovation."

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