Leo Burnett Malaysia amidst massive restructure, COO Michelle Ong exits

Leo Burnett Malaysia chief operating officer (COO), Michelle Ong (pictured) is departing the agency at the end of this year.

Speaking exclusively to A+MTan Kien Eng, CEO of PublicisOne Malaysia explained that the agency is now undergoing a "massive restructuring and transformation to stay ahead of the curve". He also explained that due to the agency's scale, the COO role will be broken and distributed amongst key team leaders to reflect the agency's move in creating micro agencies within the main agency.

"We would like to thank Michelle for all her contribution. Michelle's departure creates an opportunity for the next generation of stars in Leo Burnett to step up. [...] We will also be looking at hiring an operations director to manage resources for the overall operations in 2018," he said.

Ong first joined the agency back in 2013 as its COO, in which she was tasked to oversee operations and focus on reinventing workflow processes, while collaborating with counterparts in Leo Burnett Singapore. She was also handling key MNC brands such as McDonald’s, Philip Morris, Dutch Lady Malaysia, and Procter & Gamble.

Ong was not able to comment further on her latest move to A+M at the point of writing.

Prior to Leo Burnett, she was the head of brands at Proton Malaysia for nearly a year. Ong has over 20 years of solid communications experience building a diverse range of brands, having worked with Ogilvy & Mather and McCann Worldgroup in Malaysia. She was also once the managing director of McCann Indonesia.

The news comes shortly after head of knowledge and strategy Sutapa Bhattacharya, departed the agency to join Tenaga Nasional (TNB). On Bhattacharya's departure, managing partner Andrew Leong, Leo Burnett Malaysia earlier said, “We wish her nothing but the best in her new venture on the client side. These changes are also part of a broader expansion plan within the agency, we have restructured our strategic unit to focus on business verticals as well as horizontal specialisation."

In July last year, Leo Burnett Malaysia appointed Mohd Hisham Saleh as director of social content and commerce, in order to beef up its strategy and retail team. Saleh, who reports to Leong, was the head of social media and innovations at Malaysia Airlines. He was involved in the conceptualisation of social media ideas from content development, social advertising to influencer marketing for the airline’s global market base.

Meanwhile, Tan was appointed to his current role in May 2016. His appointment followed the global restructure of the whole Publicis Groupe announced in late 2015. Publicis One is the global communications enterprise that unites all Publicis Groupe agency brands’ capabilities and expertise under one roof.

Brands under the Publicis One Malaysia umbrella include Leo Burnett, Arc, Publicis, Saatchi & Saatchi, Saatchi & Saatchi Arachnid, AdSell, Starcom, Mediavest, Optimedia and Liquid Thread. All agency brands will continue to exist and operate within the Publicis One set up.