Tarun Rai to replace Colvyn Harris as JWT South Asia CEO

MUMBAI: Beginning early 2015, Tarun Rai will step into the shoes of Colyvn Harris as JWT South Asia CEO.


Harris, who has had a longstanding tenure with the company, will assume the role of global growth and client development executive director and will report to J Walter Thompson Company CEO Gustavo Martinez.


In the role of CEO, Rai will lead JWT, which includes India, Sri Lanka and Nepal, as well as JWT’s Indian companies, including Contract Advertising, Hungama Digital Services, J. Walter Thompson Mindset, Encompass and Social Wavelength. He will report to Martinez and will work closely with Asia Pacific CFO Nick Romas.


“I am thrilled to welcome Tarun Rai back to J. Walter Thompson. Tarun has the global business acumen and pioneering spirit needed to lead J. Walter Thompson south Asia. He was an important part of our, and now he will be a critical part of our future,” said Martinez.


Rai rejoins the company from Worldwide Media, where he held the role of CEO since 2008. Under Rai’s leadership, Worldwide Media (then a joint venture of The Times of India Group and BBC Worldwide) grew exponentially.


“It’s wonderful to return home to J. Walter Thompson during this pivotal time in the company’s history. Being away for a few years has given me an invaluable ‘outside-in’ perspective of the advertising business. Having a chance to head J. Walter Thompson South Asia and work with Gustavo Martinez as he leads J. Walter Thompson into the next 150 years is a huge honour,” added Rai.


During his tenure at JWT, Rai helped build some of the world’s most reputed brands; his clients included Hindustan Unilever, Diageo, GlaxoSmithKline, Pizza Hut, De Beers, ITC, Tata Steel, Nestlé, Hero, Godrej and Kellogg’s. Rai is an advertising and media professional with more than 25 years’ experience. He holds a business degree and is an alumnus of the London School of Economics.


Harris, who has spent 35 years at JWT, has been Contract Advertising CEO and J. Walter Thompson Colombo managing director. He also holds various industry leadership roles and board positions, including Advertising Agencies Association of India president.


Under his leadership, J. Walter Thompson South Asia has built a formidable reputation with a diverse spectrum of traditional, mainstream, activation, events and digital marketing services capabilities, including the acquisitions of Encompass, Hungama Digital Services, Mindset and Social Wavelength. The agency also won its first Cannes Grand Prix and first Titanium Lion under his leadership, and was the highest awarded Indian agency at Cannes 2014. The company has deepened the scope and scale of the services it offers in the market, from digital to events and activation, through organic growth and acquisitions.


Harris said, “Every day has been an opportunity across my professional career at J. Walter Thompson. Building our capabilities to meet the ambition of our clients’ brands has been my relentless passion and purpose. I have worked with the most amazing and talented team one can ever hope for, and the bluest-of-blue chip clients across every category one can dream of. I am proud to have sustained and grown our client partnerships, and that our clients continue to be leaders in their respective categories for the ideas we have delivered for them. I look forward to being an integral part of the global client development team.”


“I am deeply grateful for Colvyn Harris’ longstanding leadership and commitment to J. Walter Thompson. Colvyn has been a real asset and a great support during my first 11 months in the company. He will continue to help me further the growth of the company in this new role,” added Martinez.


“2015 will be a big year, especially for J. Walter Thompson South Asia under Tarun’s leadership and vision,” concluded Martinez.


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