CHICAGO--Edelman has reorganized its international operations, putting responsibility for Africa and the Middle East under Asia-Pacific CEO David Brain.
The revamp also sees a trio of senior leaders from these regions handed new roles. Southeast Asia MD Bob Grove shifts to Hong Kong to oversee North Asia; UAE GM Iain Twine moves to Singapore to head Southeast Asia and Australia; and, India chief Robert Holdheim adds leadership duties for Africa and the Middle East.
All three report to Brain, who in turn continues to report to Edelman chief operating officer Harrington. The changes are Harrington’s first major moves since he took on the COO role earlier this year as part of a restructuring of Edelman’s reporting lines.
Harrington told the Holmes Report that the reorganization was initially prompted by clients. “As I began travelling last summer, meeting with clients like GE and Diageo, hearing how they are structuring their worlds.”
In particular, he believes the changes reflect the “dynamic between Africa, the Middle East, China and India” given significantly increasing investment between these markets and existing cultural ties.
Brain also noted that combining the three sub-regions would bring the benefits of scale, in terms of increased investment, training and specialization.
“By scaling the region in this way we are able invest more deeply in more practice and specialist experts in the sub-regions to supplement our market teams,” said Brain. “Clients are demanding both excellence in market understanding and execution as well as deep industry and specialist knowledge.”
The announcement follows Robert Phillips’ decision to quit his role as Edelman EMEA CEO last month. Phillips told the Holmes Report that the removal of Middle East and Africa from his EMEA mandate was not a factor in his decision to quit, just two weeks after adding new global responsibilities at the firm.
Similarly, Harrington said that the EMEA rejig had been discussed by the firm’s executive committee for the last six months. “The reality is it’s less than six percent of what Europe has, so it doesn’t take much away,” he said. “And we don’t currently have much in Africa.”
Edelman does not currently have an owned office in Africa, but its Middle East operation has grown rapidly under the leadership of Twine, and now numbers 70 people across Abu Dhabi and Dubai. India has experienced similarly eye-catching growth under Holdheim to around $14m in fee income. Grove, meanwhile, has overseen Edelman’s rise in Southeast Asia, where it counts strong offices in Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia; and a newer one in Vietnam.
“Over the past four years, our operations in India have quadrupled, Abu Dhabi has grown seven-fold, and Singapore has grown 80 percent, all positioning Edelman for success in these markets,” said Harrington. “Now with a greater sub-region focus, we will be able to bring the same value to newer high-growth markets such as Africa and parts of the Middle East.”