First 360: Bala recaps his first year at IPG

By: Malati Siniah

A 26-year-veteran of the industry, Bala Pomaleh joined IPG Mediabrands from Carat where he was CEO exactly one year ago.

The dynamic CEO of IPG Mediabrands Malaysia has already been making waves with several account wins and a robust team behind him. While a lot has happened in the past 360 days, we got Bala to reflect and share with us his journey so far….

Who was the first person you spoke to when you entered the office on your first day?

Susan my EA. I wasn’t sure where I should park my car, so I called her from the car park, and she showed me my parking lot.

What has changed for you from Day 1 till today?

What has changed from my first day to now is that I see our capabilities as a team, and am getting to know them better each day. So I now see the potential for us to achieve even more fantastic things!

What is the one advice you would give to someone transitioning into a new role?

My one advice would be to internalise the culture and get to know the team well. Only when you do this can you fully understand the capabilities, limitations and their potential to help bring out the best in them.

How long did it take you to change your LinkedIn profile?

I changed my LinkedIn profile on my first day at work. Is there any better timing than that?

What have you learnt about yourself in your 360 days at IPG?

I’ve learnt that it is very important for me to focus on the development and success of my direct reports.

Being able to trust and empower my senior leaders is an important part of my own self-development. I am very happy that we have a strong pool of leaders in the company who are now making a bigger name for themselves.

Share with us a snapshot of your favourite item in your office?

I love this sofa as I think it looks really cool. I was told this sofa set was actually designed and hand-crafted by the previous tenants of the floor. It lends the room a good vibe.

What is your fondest memory throughout the one year you have been in the agency?

Actually, I have a number of fond memories, it’s hard to pick one. What stands out here is our culture, and our Happiness team which takes an initiative to build up momentum for the various festivities we have internally.

For instance during Deepavali last year we held a hybrid celebration called Deepaloween, and I am always pleasantly surprised by our incredibly talented staff who come together to make it a momentous occasion.

What has been your biggest challenge throughout this one year and how have you been able to overcome it?

Keeping all our talents motivated and happy is probably my single biggest challenge as we have diverse operations, and each team is unique. Given the constant evolution in the needs of our industry, it is important for us to keep our ear close to the ground so we’re able to look at ways in which we can improve happiness. If our talents are happy, productivity increases.

Name one person from IPG Mediabrands who has inspired you?

There are numerous people within the organisation who have inspired me in different ways, so it is hard to pick just one. However, one person who deserves special mention is Murali, my CFO. I work very closely with him, and he has been a solid support in the business.

You might say he’s our unsung hero as he works tirelessly to ensure we collectively make sound business decisions.

What keeps you going every day?

I actually am a bit of a workaholic and tend to be “always on” especially when it comes to replying emails etc. at odd hours or on holidays. However having a supportive family definitely helps! They keep me focused and grounded, and they ensure I keep a good balance of home, work and play. Otherwise, they will kill me!

Transitioning into a new role is never an easy journey. The First 360 series profiles everyone from CEOs to brand managers to share the ups and downs of the first year in their new role. Have someone we can feature? Drop us a line at [email protected]


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