Mutant Communications has elevated four of its leaders to new roles as it eyes wider regional expansion. MD Lina Marican (pictured left) has been promoted to regional MD while director Matthew de Bakker (pictured second from left) has been named country manager for Singapore. The agency will also focus on scaling the business in new markets, including in Indonesia and the Philippines where it has strong client demand.
Moving forward, Marican will be responsible for launching and scaling the agency in new and existing markets for Southeast Asia. She initially joined the agency in January 2017 as its account director and was promoted to MD in 2018. Under her leadership, the agency has more than tripled its revenue and expanded its headcount to over 30 across its Singapore and Malaysia offices, said Mutant.
Meanwhile, de Bakker is an experienced leader who has led Mutant's PR business in Singapore since 2017. During his time as head of PR, he helped add a string of brands and well-funded startups such as Singapore Sports Hub, Experian APAC, Disney and Ula to the agency's client roster. Before Mutant, Bakker helmed the senior PR and communications executive position for HR services industry, Randstad. He helmed that role for more than a year, said his LinkedIn.
Marican told MARKETING-INTERACTIVE that it wants to earn its place as Southeast Asia’s leading independent consultancy for brands seeking value and quality cross-market execution. "I’m excited to lead Mutant’s regional capabilities as a communications partner that drives real business impact for clients," she said.
To do this, the agency is focused on building great teams that know what matters to businesses and letting its talent shine. "As we scale, Mutant will continue to strengthen its foundational pillars: our people, culture, capabilities and client success," she said. Moving forward, she aims to continue building a passionate and driven team, and staying laser-focused on business outcomes for clients continues to drive Mutant’s success.
Meanwhile, de Bakker said Mutant's people and culture are the backbone of everything it does. "In 2022, we’re focused on investing in and scaling talent efforts through graduate trainee programmes, increased training and via the launch of purpose-driven initiatives. Importantly, as Mutant enters new markets, I’m excited for all the knowledge-sharing we’ll experience as one unified team," he explained.
Last year, Mutant was one of the 20 firms shortlisted in MARKETING-INTERACTIVE 's inaugural Adland Diversity and Inclusion Index 2021, which aimed to showcase policies around diversity and inclusion and how agencies are attracting world-class talent. Gender equality and nurturing female leadership and talent forms a core part of who Mutant is as an agency. This focus, according to Mutant , starts from the top and trickles down throughout the business.
In an attempt to expand its growing content and brand offerings, managing editor, Byravee Iyer (pictured second from right) and strategic director, Rebecca Lewis (pictured right) have also stepped into newly created roles. Iyer will be the agency's head of content, while Lewis has taken on the brand strategy director role.
"As Mutant heads into its ten year anniversary, it has exciting plans to set-up offices in new markets, with Indonesia and the Philippines in its horizon," said Barratt. He added that he was confident that the agency's leadership team will continue to build on its foundation of being communications partners that drive business results for its clients.
Learning lessons from 2021
Shortly after its foray into Malaysia last year, the agency appointed branding and communications veteran Archana Menon as its country head for Malaysia. In her role, Menon is responsible for overseeing and growing Mutant’s business in Malaysia, offering specialist services in branding, content development, PR and digital marketing to both existing and new clients and driving results that boost sales, leads, and customer retention.
Since launching its Malaysia office in 2019, Mutant Malaysia has worked with several local brands, including Pavilion REIT (Pavilion Kuala Lumpur, Da Men USJ & Intermark Malls), MYNIC (Malaysia’s digital enabler), and have worked on campaigns for JobStreet and Kimberly Clark, among others.
Marican said 2021 has shown that clients want value, counsel and strong partners who understand their brand and come up with proactive solutions that drive business outcomes. This was even more crucial as brands grappled with tighter budgets and ambitious targets. "Mutant was built on the premise of driving business results, and our relentless pursuit of this has turned prospects into long-term client partners," she said.
Last year was also the year of The Great Resignation. According to Marican, the industry as a whole is struggling with staff who are disengaged working from home, feeling burnt out and underappreciated. While Mutant has always been workplace champions, the agency continuously find ways to engage and bring out the best in its talent, including through the launch of new initiatives.
"For example, through discussions with staff in Singapore, we found many lacked privacy and individual bedrooms in their family homes, making working difficult. Since January 2022, we have invested in an ongoing lease on a studio apartment at Hmlet, which Mutants can use on a rotational weekly basis. This offers our staff an alternative working and living arrangement to find some much-needed peace and use at their leisure. The initiative has been very popular so far," she added.
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