Innovator 25 Asia-Pacific 2017 | Holmes Report
Charting the future of public relations
Our second Innovator 25 class in Asia-Pacific provides a valuable glimpse of our industry’s future, shining a spotlight on those individuals who are reshaping influence and engagement in an era of dramatic marketing and communications disruption.

The people recognised here come from various corners of the industry — creative strategy, digital execution, influencer mapping, media storytelling — but together they represent a compelling picture of what marketing and communications looks like today, and where it is heading tomorrow.

The highest proportion of our inaugural class are based in Singapore (28%), followed by China (Beijing, Guanghzhou and Shanghai) and Hong Kong (24% each). Other markets represented are Bombay, New Delhi, SeoulSydney, Tokyo and Yangon.
Innovator 25 AP - Location Each of the Innovator 25 profiles explores their views towards the state of industry innovation, while also providing unique insight into the habits and learnings that drive our class of innovators. Many, for example, prefer the morning when it comes to looking for inspiration. "Early morning when the city is not yet awake and you can hear yourself thinking," said Weber Shandwick's Lydia Lee.

Almost as many, among them Simon Ruparelia from Golin, chose for the evening for similar reasons — namely lowered external pressures. "I’m the most content in the ‘wee’ hours when the world is sleeping. A daily respite from emails and texts to crystallise my thoughts."

Dentsu PR's Motoko Kunita also prefers the evening hours, although for different reasons: "I enjoy reading mysteries in bed to clear my thoughts before going to sleep."

Others were less conventional when it came to picking their favourite time of day. Prain Global's SB Lee, for example, opted for a specific occasion — "the moment when a Prain executive reports the winning of an open competitive bid" — while Aman Gupta from SPAG prefers "flight time. It gives me space to think about the question 'what next?'."

Meanwhile, Sean Seah from HSBC probably wins for the most honest response: "Drinking after working with good friends. This is the best way to release daily stress and energize for tomorrow." (We'll have what he's having!)

Several members pointed to specific mentors, often senior figures who have guided their careers and still serve as critical sounding boards. Others, however, admit that they use more disparate sources of advice to help influence their thinking. "I am my own mentor," notes Tony Chow from Marriott International. "Constantly improving and benchmark myself against my own development."

Influence Matters founder Simon Vericel offers the most unfiltered opinion, perhaps — "I'm open to recommendations...I'm not very good at listening to advice." While Kunita's is equally refreshing — "Watching cats calms my mind and lends perspective when dealing with problems."

And almost everyone believes an open-minded approach, often requiring travel, new people and new experiences, is the best way to find inspiration. "I am always curious and find inspiration from reading and listening constantly and try to be exposed to a wide variety of content, conversations, podcasts, books," explains Anjali Kapoor from Bloomberg Media. "It's good to step out of your comfort zone."

"Mostly I find my inspiration in very simple ways like seeing a normal girl doing her studies (or) some workers on the street doing their jobs for a living," adds Digital Kaway's Sandi Sein Thein, who even nods to her rivals. "And sometimes I get major inspiration from our competitors’ excellent work."

"Creativity is driven from diversity, and diverse lenses come from a sincere curiosity of the broader world state," said Jemma Wong from the AFL. "I look to high art, writers like Murakami and theatre to stimulate my senses."

There was a broad range of opinion when respondents were asked to name their most innovative place in the world. A few, such as Zeno's John Kerr (Tokyo) and WE's Siddarth Sanke (Taipei), opted for Asian locatons, while others ventured afield — including Current Asia's David Ketchum (MIT Media) and Coca-Cola's Yosuke Toyoura (Seattle). Meanwhile, Shweta Shukla from Unilever opted for homebase (Level 3 Foundry).
Innovator 25 AP - Where do you see most innovation When it comes to innovation, marketing and PR have the greatest opportunity to make an impact around digital and ecommerce platforms in Asia-Pacific, say 35% of our innovators, reflecting the rapid strides made by such platforms as WeChat. Just under a quarter, meanwhile, point to creativity and content.
Innovator 25 AP - How innovative are we compared to other disciplines In a welcome reversal of last year's findings, 35% think communications is ahead of other marketing disciplines in terms of innovation, while only 24% think the PR industry is lagging.
Innovator 25 AP - Who most influences a brand's marketing and PR When asked who most influences how innovative a brand’s marketing/PR, the CMO reigns supreme, with 62% of the vote, ahead of the CEO (31%). Neither the CCO nor agencies garnered any support.
Innovator 25 AP - Brands Which brands and agencies do they find most innovative? Xiaomi is the only Asian name to garner sustained support, alongside the the usual international suspects — Coca-Cola, Lego, Airbnb, Netflix, Instagram and Nike

You can read all of the Innovator 25 Profiles, and explore their inspiration, advice and career learnings, using the navigation menu on this page.