THE POWER OF ONE
TAN KIEN ENG, GROUP CEO OF PUBLICIS ONE MALAYSIA AND CEO OF LEO BURNETT MALAYSIA, TELLS
ABOUT THE CHALLENGES OF RUNNING THE LARGEST CREATIVE AGENCY IN MALAYSIA.
Looking back, what do you consider the defining moments in your first 100 days in this position? As CEO of Leo Burnett as well as the newly created role of Group CEO of Publicis One, I initially joked to my peers that I was taking one as a day job and the other as my night job. Jokes aside, it wasn’t a toss between the two roles really. When all the agencies within the Publicis One group came together, we were on steroids – extraordinarily strong and agile. It’s a huge responsibility managing the largest creative agency in Malaysia, with such diverse offerings in creative, media, marketing communication, data, tech and production, but I’m even more proud to be driving the united ambition of delivering on the value of ‘The Power of One’ to clients. What do you regard as the crucial factors for you to stay on top of your game? Firstly, even though we are rated as the best, I always believe we can do better. Secondly, we need to be purpose-driven to understand why we exist and why we do what we do. Thirdly, I don’t compete with others as much as I compete with myself. I am constantly dissatisfied, looking at areas we can improve or be different, to ultimately refine or reinvent our agencies. Hopefully, by doing so, we continue to add value to our people and clients, create world-class work, uncover fresh revenue streams for the agency and stay ahead of the game. What do you foresee are the game-changing challenges facing your industry? I am excited about the now and the near future, where people and their behaviour are changing. AI, deep learning, new platforms coupled with new competitors, and changing client expectations are becoming the new normal. This is why, as far back as nine years ago, we as a team decided that we were no longer in the business of advertising. We no longer create ads but instead create acts. Our job, fundamentally, is to understand people and to change behaviour through creativity. We apply insightful creative thinking, fused with data, technology and great execution, to help solve our client’s business challenges in the new age. Our clients can expect a return on consumer engagement and improvements in their brand valuations. It is hard work as we are currently in our third phase of agency transformation and reinvention. It makes me jump out of bed in the morning energised, as our job has become even more exciting and the results would be game-changing. Single out a leader in the corporate world you wish to emulate. Warren Buffet of Berkshire Hathaway. He is not just a great business mind, but also a leader who communicates effectively and inspires others to perform. But what I admire most about him is his bravery of sticking to his values and beliefs even in the face of worldwide criticism. Why do you think CEOs need a dose of James Bond in their lives? Business, just like life, is full of surprises. We are sometimes shaken, but not stirred by it. As CEO, what most excites and worries you? I feel happiest when I see great ideas, concepts and opinions from our people, and knowing that the team can execute well. It worries me when I see people holding on to obsolete ways, and are unwilling to adapt to change for the better. What are your strategies to make your companies the most successful in your industry?