Corporate Wellbeing Asia 2023
human resources online

Suite Talk: Dentsu Aegis Network Southeast Asia

Akankasha Dewan speaks with Dick Van Motman, chairman and CEO of Dentsu Aegis Network Southeast Asia, about his opinions of how HR leaders can better align the function’s aims and goals with the rest of the organisation.

How has your experience been with Dentsu Aegis Network so far?

The experience has been great. I was previously leading the team at DDB China Group. That was a pretty successful and enjoyable time. When Dentsu came knocking, it wasn’t anything I had considered before. Dentsu’s model is quite different than the rest of our industry. Our competitors are mainly decoupled organisations or decoupled media and digital companies so they are quite siloed.

Dentsu, however, runs a convergent model. And I think that model is very suitable for this day and age. This is mainly because technology has made it possible for you to be everywhere instantaneously. Therefore, integration and speed become important. And that’s the model they have built in Japan and in pockets in Asia and are trying to replicate it on a more global scale.

This is why I thought it was a very interesting role because it’s not just about playing a different game from an advertising point of view. It is also a transformational management job – helping a Japanese company go global.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

The fact that it’s about “shaping” on every level. When you work in the advertising or marketing industry it doesn’t matter what you did yesterday. It is always about topping that the next day – coming up with a new solution. So, technically every day the challenge and the frustration is the same – it is a blank sheet of paper, in terms of delivering the service to your client.

But because Dentsu is on its way to becoming a more dominant global player after establishing Dentsu Aegis Network outside of Japan, it is about helping shape a 113-year-old company with a very venerable reputation and track record that wants to do something new and innovative. That’s what I like most. By adding my dimension and vision to it, I am, up to a certain small level, able to shape it.

Dick Van Motman, chairman and CEO of Dentsu Aegis Network Southeast Asia

How can HR become more strategic?

The interesting part about the digital world today is that technology is very quickly commoditised so it all comes down to your ideas and how quickly you do things. Speed and creativity become very important and those things come from people. Talent, and therefore HR, become very important in the context of building a culture and building a motivated company.

At Dentsu Aegis Network Southeast Asia, HR is all about people development. It is not about getting the people in, but about selecting the right people and making them work up.

What, in your opinion, is the future of HR?

People are our business, and I view an agency as a football team. You’ve got to select the right people for the right position and then you’ve got to make them play a unique game. But like every football club, you have transfer seasons. You need to grow talent from within, and therefore HR is at the centre of our company.

We need to make sure we never see the function purely from an admin point of view, but more as a talent management function which helps to build a culture, which helps in performance management and in collaboration. I see the talent management doing multiple things.

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