In 2006, Upstream founder David Ketchum faced a difficult decision. The firm he founded in 2000 had grown rapidly, thanks to support from venture capital firm Techpacific Capital and the strategic input of legendary regional public relations figures Peter Kingsbury and Paul Adams but to continue that growth it need access to capital. With a network of small offices across the region, Ketchum could have sold out to one of the giant multinationals—several had made enquiries. Instead, he chose to take the firm public on the London Stock Exchange AIM market, using the funds to invest in strong local leadership and to make select acquisitions to continue the firm’s growth.
The first consequence of that listing was that Upstream went out and brought in several senior executives to work alongside Ketchum—whose experience includes positions with Burson-Marsteller, Hill & Knowlton, and on the client side of the business with Calvin Klein—and chief operating officer Paul Mottram, a business marketing specialist and former vice president of corporate marketing at Global Sources who joined Upstream in 2001, when it was a five-person operation in Hong Kong. Today, the leadership team includes China managing director Hua Foley, who has more than 20 years of experience in public relations, government affairs and agency management; Mike Liew, a veteran of Edelman, Ogilvy and GolinHarris who serves as managing director, Singapore; Hong Kong managing director Hester Chan, who previously held senior in-house roles with the Hong Kong Tourism Board and the Organising Committee of the East Asian Games. Upstream also made several small acquisitions, including Australian firm Macro Consulting (which had been operating under the Upstream brand since 2004), with co-founder Grahame Cox appointed managing director,