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Kyoko

Essence hands Kyoko Matsushita global CEO remit

Essence has promoted global chief client officer Kyoko Matsushita (pictured) to global CEO, replacing Christian Juhl who will be taking on the global CEO role at GroupM this October. Based out of San Francisco, she will continue to report to Juhl.

In her new role, Matsushita will work closely with the agency’s global management team, including global COO Steve Williams, global chief strategy officer Damian Blackden, global chief of product operations Rich Mooney and global CFO Tony Santabarbara, to continue driving Essence’s client-centric innovation in data, analytics, and technology, business growth, and employee culture.

Earlier this year, Matsushita was appointed global chief client officer, rising from her previous role as APAC CEO. As global chief client officer, she is responsible for evolving and nurturing Essence’s global client services practice, overseeing quality of work, boosting organic account growth, and collaborating on new business initiatives.

She first joined Essence in 2014 to lead the agency’s expansion in Asia Pacific. Matsushita has more than two decades’ experience overseeing media, marketing, business development and operations for companies including Electronic Arts and Sony as well as Essence.

Matsushita said she is “deeply honoured” to have the opportunity to lead “this truly exceptional agency” at a time when data and technology gives the agency so much potential to unlock value for its clients.

“Essence was founded to lead the industry in creating trustworthy, relevant, and valuable advertising. I couldn’t be more excited to see what we can accomplish when we combine this mission with our clients’ ambition and the power of data science and big ideas,” she said.

“Matsushita’s deep relationships with our clients, her knowledge of our culture, and her vision for the future make her the perfect person to lead Essence into its next era of growth and innovation.I am looking forward to working closely with her in my new role at GroupM,” Juhl said.

In a previous interview with Marketing, she said the focus for Indonesia this year is to build the “mother ship” of Essence’s capabilities to enable the agency to scale at a fast pace next year. This includes finding the right talent and leadership, and identifying which parts of the business is going to be centralised.

“I’m pretty bullish and ambitious that next year we can double the revenue given the market opportunities,” she said.

Essence has 500 employees across nine office in Asia Pacific, including Singapore, Indonesia, India, Australia, South Korea and Japan. As for Malaysia, Matsushita said its activities are serviced out of the agency’s office in Singapore. While she wishes to expand into the market, Matsushita sees that not all companies are prioritising the shift towards digital and data activities yet.

“They want to [digitalise], but their internal structure is not necessarily allowing them. So, even if we want to help, we are sometimes limited. The key is identifying the kind of clients we can support and then, going into the market,” she said previously.

Meanwhile, the agency also elevated Kunal Guha (pictured below) as senior VP, product, APAC. Based in Singapore, he reports to Richard Mooney, global chief of product operations.

In this newly created role, Guha leads Essence’s full-service product offering across Asia Pacific, where he is responsible for the development of the agency’s product proposition in the region, delivering growth strategies by creating data and analytics-led capabilities and strategic partnerships.

He also works with regional practice leads across strategy, analytics, media and experience, as well as the agency’s suite of marketing technology solutions, to ensure an integrated product offering in Asia Pacific which delivers on clients’ business needs.


He joined Essence in 2014 and was most recently the senior VP, MD, Central Asia. According to Essence, Guha has contributed significantly to building the agency’s capabilities and geographic footprint from a startup in Singapore to a full-service agency across Asia Pacific.

A member of Essence’s APAC leadership team, Guha is also part of the executive council which oversees the strategic direction of Essence Global Ventures, the agency’s first innovation, research and development hub in Asia pacific, supported by the Singapore Economic Development Board.

(Read also: Meet Essence Indonesia’s Kunal Guha)

“At Essence, we are incubating and developing a product proposition for the new era of marketing, with data, technology, brand protection and experience at the core,” said Guha.

He added that in his new role, he helps connect its Asia Pacific practices with the agency’s product proposition to create a” stimulating environment” for all to thrive in.

“I am excited to oversee the design and output of our product proposition, as well as champion our agency’s best work and cohesive, future-forward solutions for our clients,” he added.

Meanwhile, Mooney said Guha has played “an instrumental role” in the tremendous growth and success that Essence has experienced in Asia Pacific.

“In five years, he has applied his breadth of marketing experience and business acumen to leadership roles across strategy, client services and business management. In the last year, Guha contributed greatly to our product, and in recognition of his achievements and capabilities, I am delighted to officially welcome him into the global product organisation as the product lead for Asia Pacific,” Mooney added.

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