Meet our new Regional Directors in Asia-Pacific
Earlier this year, we announced a new leadership structure for our Asia-Pacific region, with Kathryn Rhodes and Lesley Murphy appointed joint Regional Directors. We sat down with the duo to discuss their vision for the business in APAC, career highlights and what they get up to away from work.
1. Let’s start with the recent announcement, in which you were appointed as joint Regional Directors of our operations in Asia. Just how excited are you by the prospect of leading in the region, and where would you like to see the business go in Asia?
KR: I am incredibly excited and honoured to have been asked to lead the region for CSM alongside Les. I have been very fortunate in my career to have worked with several inspiring women that have supported and guided me over the last 10 years and Les is one of them. Our skillsets and personalities are well matched and I’m so pleased that CSM saw this opportunity to promote and empower two senior females in our business.
The excitement continues when talking about the future of CSM in Asia. Our business across Hong Kong, Singapore and Mainland China is in a really strong place with plans to expand the team across Brands and Rights over the next few months. We are focused on developing our expertise on the ground in Singapore to support our growth plans across Southeast Asia and looking to maximise our global client network to drive incremental business in the region.
LM: What is great about the new appointments is that we both already hold a shared history and passion for the business, and for it to succeed. We have both been working for CSM in the region for some time, have an established working relationship, and have been a part of CSM’s growth and evolution over the years.
Coming into work each day is truly motivating and energising when you are working alongside people who also hold a shared belief and vision for the future of the business. Our Asia team and culture continues to grow from strength to strength and 2022 is already shaping up to be an exciting year for us. Aside from regional expansion, we strive to continue our world-class client-servicing standards and ultimately be the most recommended agency in sport and entertainment in key markets.
2. How would you describe your working dynamic?
KR: There are plenty of famous duos that have achieved great things together. Venus & Serena, Shaq & Kobe and our personal favourites, Monica & Rachel..! We believe that our joint leadership in the region is setting our business up for success.
My background is account management and driving business growth. I really enjoy meeting and understanding new people and businesses, creating opportunities that drive brand and business objectives as well as purpose for the communities we live in.
LM: And I come from a marketing and communications background, kicking off my career client-side in Australia before moving to agency life in Hong Kong. I love being part of the creative development of campaigns and initiatives to bring brands and partnerships to life, all backed by data and insights to drive true value.
Our different regional and global experience, skillsets, and personalities have set us up for a great relationship as both colleagues and friends. I also don’t think we take ourselves too seriously and enjoy a laugh now and then which is important!
3. It’s fair to say that Covid had a severe impact on the ability to host events in Asia, which somewhat stalled the momentum generated by the 2019 World Cup in Japan. But signs of recovery are now appearing as we head into 2022. What events, or pieces of client work, have you got coming up that we should be looking out for, and what are the prospects for the year ahead?
LM: Olympics was a huge win for the region in 2021 and instilling confidence in the industry and return of live events. The Covid recovery across Asian markets however is varied and ever changing. The current situation in Vietnam for example is very different to that in Mainland China. Our CSM team are creating solutions for new and current clients that are adaptable and agile so that partnerships can still be leveraged during these uncertain times.
You can expect to see more exciting digital and content work being delivered for our long-term client, AIA, and their global partner Tottenham Hotspur. Leveraging Spurs players and coaches, our team continues to create engaging campaigns which generate business leads, but also support audiences in leading healthier, longer, and better lives. Hopefully 2022 will also mark the return of in-person football development programs leveraging Spurs Global Development Coaches on the ground in Asia.
KR: Given the disruption over the last two years, our team are constantly looking at and analysing audience insights to ensure the work we are creating is locally relevant for Brands and Rightsholders in market. We are eager to return to live events in the region, especially our HSBC team who are finding creative ways to leverage the Bank’s global partnerships in the region.
Over the next few months, you will see more locally relevant content from HSBC that champions the Hong Kong National Rugby Team as well as a 3-part series showcasing the Bank’s sustainability initiatives in the region for HSBC Expat.
Looking ahead to 2022, we have several major projects in the pipeline across Hong Kong, Mainland China and Southeast Asia that we look forward to sharing with you in the New Year!
4. You’ve both been at CSM for more than five years now, working on a number of incredible client campaigns during your time here. If you had to pick one highlight, what would that be and why?
KR: I joined CSM as an Account Director to lead HSBC’s partnership of the iconic Hong Kong 7s and it remains the best week of the year for me. 2019 has to be the standout – the most successful year to date for the partnership and the one I’m most proud of. We had record numbers and results across hospitality, grassroots and employee initiatives and had some of the biggest names in Rugby in Hong Kong as ambassadors for the Bank. This included convincing Rugby World Cup winner, Bryan Habana to dress up as the HSBC HK7s mascot, Wai Bei, for a surprise photo shoot with local school children!
LM: My highlight is probably seeing the growth of the AIA-Spurs partnership since its inception. Looking back at where we started, it makes me extremely proud. I was hired into the AIA account team when the shirt partnership with Spurs launched back in 2014. Leading the set-up of the partnership and driving its growth and impact over the years, has been extremely rewarding. Even more so in recent times during the pandemic, the team has adapted creatively to the needs of the business and the world to continue to drive value. The people, the fun, the laughter, the football, along the way has made it even sweeter.
5. When not at work, what would we find you doing?
KR: Running on the Hong Kong trails listening to a podcast, I would do it every day if I could find the time!
LM: Spending time with my two boys – soaking it all in before they get older and don’t want to hang out with me anymore!