Leaders of the New Age – Mindshare’s brand new line-up

mindshare malaysia openmind msix neo mediacom raihan hadi story

“Leaders of the New Age – Mindshare’s brand new line-up” was the cover story of MARKETING WEEKENDER Issue 325

by Raihan Hadi

Smart (fancy) words in any form of literature are usually understood and acted upon by a handful.

Smart moves, however, are the ones that anyone can go along with unanimously, harmoniously, and with a sense of clarity.

A group of provocative minds are making their moves to transform how things work in the media and communications industry, and this is their story.

mindshare malaysia raihan hadi story sheila openmind neo media msix
(from left) – Maaz A. Khan (GM, OPENMIND), Phaik Cheng aka PC (the new Agency Head of m/Six), Sheila Shanmugam (Group CEO, MINDSHARE), Wan Lih Chan (MD, MINDSHARE) and Hari Kishan Yellanki (Regional Affiliate Director – APAC, Neo Media World).

Who are these people?

Needless to say that Mindshare Group walk the industry like lions in their pride – they know what they’re doing and they’ve been excelling at it for exactly 24 years today (yes it is Mindshare Malaysia’s 24th birthday today).

With a track record that’s nothing short of excellent and a talent pool with truly diverse skill sets, catering to clients across the global horizon is what these teams are set to do.

With the brand new management lineup in Malaysia under the captaincy of Sheila Shanmugam, they are transforming into a totally different form of culture.

Along with Sheila, I sat down for a chat with Phaik Cheng aka PC (the new Agency Head of m/Six), Maaz (GM of OPENMIND), Wan Lih (MD of Mindshare) and Hari (Regional Affiliate Lead of Neo).

Let’s hear about this amazing transformation from the team itself.

mindshare malaysia group company logos raihan hadi mccain goh

Why this transformation? What’s changing? What are you aiming to achieve through this change? 

It’s about organizational immunity. How the leadership team can expand the range and remit beyond what we know or currently doing today. Today’s imagination is tomorrow’s reality. And we are setting the direction and crafting the narrative    

I think we need to talk about the two different sets of culture we media agencies live by for growth – the Exploitation culture and the Exploration culture.

Exploitation culture in this case is not meant as something negative, but something used to build on internally. We’ve got the clients and the system plus the talents to support the growth ambition, and without exploiting the full potential of the latter, you can’t really expect to create cutting edge solutions that makes you the industry leader. 

As the market leader in our industry we’ve always strived to create new benchmarks of excellence, driving changes and “exploring” the unexplored territories and opportunities. If we keep doing the same over and over again, there’s really no point in being in this industry.

The changes we are making aren’t just aimed at one thing, but with this diverse team of leaders, change for us will become the constant to continuously explore those unexplored territories, upgrading ourselves, change in mindsets about our work and industry –  to keep WOW-ing the wonderful clients we work with.  

Just like how we were the first to start digital specialization, country segmentation studies and the first media specialist in the late 90’s and early 2000.  

Being number 1 is a billing numbers game. As Mindshare it’s not just about share of market but it’s about capturing highest share of mind of our clients/potential clients, partners, and talents. And for that we have to be ahead of the curve in any circumstances. 

mindshare team meeting raihan hadi story

Let’s talk about clients and how your transformation will help them.

Clients are always looking for agencies who change the norms and legacy ways of doing things – and come up with refreshing innovative solutions. Although sometimes we see gaps in the intention and actual action, there are many breakthrough initiatives that has taken place.

To distill it further, it is about challenging the convention and wearing the entrepreneurial hat in addressing our clients’ needs – how our solutions (not just limited to media) create positive impact for our clients’ business and brands.

As a global agency network, we invest heavily in data, technology and talents. 3 key aspects we are focusing on are fresh Foresights, Insights and Cross Sights which are all intertwined in building future forward thinking, creating value for our clients; and our talents who plays a major role in our transformation journey. And being part of GroupM we have very strong guidance from our GroupM CEO Chanchal Chakrabarty who drives the overall Group agenda.

What are the unique skill sets/core competencies on the table for clients to pick from?

Our industry is at the crossroads of change with many expressions. How do we navigate, be relevant and create value in this VUCA environment? 

We have experienced the worst, best of the past and we are continuously co-creating the next best revolving around good growth for our people, our clients, our partners and the industry at large.

Our footprint in Malaysia started more than 2 decades ago with a very unique history and culture that is inimitable. Our brilliant basics which are continuously put to test, creates new benchmark and sets the standards for ourselves and the industry in creating new expectation. These we do by optimizing resources and creating efficiencies which are fundamental for all our Clients big or small.

We also take the position of global / glocal agency by bringing our global best practices to create impact for local business which requires different customization strategy and business model. The exploratory initiative especially with SMEs and start-ups created new opportunities for beta test and learn, new products and revenue stream with new business model for the agency.      

So, we are constantly creating economic, social and cultural value for those we serve by turning brilliant ideas into actions, and forming collaborations within our ever increasing network of partners. 

Everyone has expertise, but what truly stands as a testament to what we do best are the recognitions we have been receiving over the years.

We have won many awards locally and regionally in critical categories like creating business impact, changing behavior in adopting new products, data and insights, e-commerce, agency culture and people awards.  

To add to that, in the 2021 Campaign Asia-Pacific Agency of the Year we won the Southeast Asia New Business Development Team consecutively twice in the past 3 years and Media Agency of the Year shortlist.

What’s something you have always wanted to change with your work? Are you working on making that happen right now?

Attracting new breed of talents and making media a fun place to work. We are already in discussion with colleges and universities in how we can create digital marketing and media as a taught program so that graduates don’t discover media profession by chance. Besides that, graduate engagement / management program are put in place.

While data based insights are logic that we bring to the business, we need to bring back the magic – we are a very risk averse industry and very predictable, though we know unpredictable is the new predictable. Working with start-ups and SMEs gives our talents the opportunity to create and try new innovation where we share outcome and accountability with our Clients.

The media industry might seem like a boring one, but not at Mindshare. And if you don’t believe it, just come and see us!


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