Key market themes

As a general observation, hiring activity in the 1H19 can at best be described as muted. This will not come as a surprise to many given on-going geopolitical tensions, wider uncertainty in the global economy and a slow-down in GDP growth across the Asia region, notably China and India the region’s two largest economies. Broadly speaking we would expect this cautious and prudent approach to remain in place for the balance of the year particularly within more established players.

In our last quarterly review we highlighted a growing emphasis on the development and expansion of shared services centres across the region and a growing focus across enablement functions on outsourcing to third parties. Given continued cost constraints we would expect this to remain a focus, and in some instances, become more of a strategic imperative. This is driving demand for change management and transformation leadership who have demonstrable track records of leading and delivering large scale and complex transformation programs across a wide range of functions but most notably technology, risk and finance. Similarly, the Chief Operating Officer role continues to evolve taking on more direct ‘transformation’ accountability across large aspects of the business and we would expect demand for COOs to remain high through the remainder of the year. Furthermore, efforts to strengthen enablement, control and infrastructure leadership, whether opportunity or capability upgrade driven, in higher cost markets, will continue for many organizations on a selective and ‘business critical’ basis.

While growth may be slowing across most Asia markets, the region continues to be at the forefront of technology and digital innovation. Relative to their peer group, Asian consumers are embracing mobile and internet technologies and many of the region’s regulators remain committed to opening up financial systems to broaden participation and increase competition. The region is home to a number of the world’s largest financial technology companies – Alibaba, Tencent, Softbank – as well as some of the fastest growing fintechs involved in payments, insurance, investing, lending and blockchain.

In the last eighteen months there has been a noticeable shift in how traditional incumbents are considering financial technology opportunities including but not limited to increased engagement with fintech start-ups and the establishment of digital partnerships. With the expectation that more digital platforms will launch in the near future – by way of example Hong Kong and Singapore are both issuing virtual banking licenses – in-house technology transformation, digitization and automation will remain a strategic priority for most traditional incumbents. Demand for specialist roles – data, analytics, robotics, developers, user experience as well as business incubator and accelerator specialists – remains high at all levels. At more senior strategic and operating levels, there is on-going demand for leadership that can deliver broader capability and diversity of thought relevant to the digital economy. Attracting such talent will remain competitive against both start-ups and more established ‘national’ financial technology players and their successful integration into more conventional cultures and organizational structures within traditional players will likely vary greatly.


  • Anusha Thavarajah is appointed Allianz CEO, Life & Health for Asia Pacific. She was previously Malaysia CEO of AIA Berhad.
  • Rick Gould is appointed Global CEO of CLSA and will relocate to Hong Kong from New York. He was formerly the Americas CEO.
  • Jonathan Slone is appointed Asia Chairman of Jefferies. He was formerly Chief Executive Officer of CLSA.
  • Zhenyi Tang joins Credit Suisse as CEO China. He was previously with CLSA.
  • Angela Bow joins EFG International as Deputy Head of Asia Pacific. She joins from Julius Baer where she was Head of Japan, Emerging Asia and Intermediaries.
  • Junjie Watkins is appointed CEO for Asia ex-Japan of Pictet Asset Management. She was formerly Head of Investment Solutions for Asia of TCW Asia.
  • Hiromichi Kakihara is appointed CEO and President of Japan Operations by Tata Consultancy Services. He will replace AS Lakshminarayanan who is taking over as Head of Tata Communications.
  • Junior Cho is appointed CEO of Zurich General Insurance Malaysia. He was previously Head of Market Management.


  • Wang Haifeng is named the Chief Technology Officer of Baidu, in addition to his role as Director of Baidu’s Artificial Intelligence Group.
  • Julia Strain is joining Commonwealth Bank in early August as EGM Corporate Services. She joins from Deutsche Bank where she was CIO for APAC Corporate Investment Banking Technology and Global Securities Technology.
  • David Gledhill is retiring from DBS as Group Head of Technology and Operations after spending 11 years with the bank. He is succeeded by Jimmy Ng who was the Deputy Group Head of Technology and Operations.
  • Madhivanan Balakrishnan who was CTO of ICICI Bank has left and is set to join IDFC First Bank.
  • Greg Couper joins National Australia Bank as Program Director of Financial Crime Change Program. He was previously Technology Asia Lead at ANZ.
  • Louie Ho is appointed as Head of Digital Business Services [HK] and Regional Head of Advisory & Architecture Services [GC] by SAP.
  • Darren Argyle joins Standard Chartered Bank as Global CISO for Client Services, Business Lines, SC Ventures and relocates to Singapore. He was previously CISO of icare NSW.
  • Rohit Adlakha is appointed CIO of Wipro Limited. He is also continuing in his role as the Global Head, Wipro HOLMES.

Legal, Risk and Compliance 

  • Jayne Plunkett joins AIA as Group Chief Risk Officer starting this November. She joins from Swiss Re where she was CEO of Reinsurance Asia, Regional President Asia.
  • Emmanuelle Guillerme was named APAC Chief Compliance Officer for BNP Paribas succeeding Felicity Youl.
    Based in Singapore, Emmanuelle was previously Deputy Head of Compliance APAC and APAC COO Compliance.
  • Aveline San joins Citigroup as Chief Compliance Officer for Asia Pacific.
  • John Kanatas is appointed APAC Chief Compliance Officer, Banking, Capital Markets & Advisory, Research & Control Group of Citigroup.
  • Benedict Nolens joined SC Ventures as a Managing Director, she was formerly the VP for International Government Relations in Circle.
  • Wilfred Yeung joins Scotiabank as Head of GBM Compliance Asia Pacific. He joins from Nomura where he was Asia ex-Japan Head of Compliance.
  • Karen Law is appointed Head of Legal and Corporate Governance of TNG FinTech Group. She joins from Lan
    Kwai Fong Group where she was the Vice President of Strategy and Legal.
  • Carmen Guo joins T.Rowe Price as Senior Legal Counsel. She joins from Schroders where she was the Co-Head of Legal, Hong Kong and China.
  • Jennifer Cheng is promoted to be APAC General Counsel of UBS. She was previously Managing Director, General Counsel Asset Management APAC.


  • Melanie Ng is appointed APAC Head of Corporate Finance of Blackstone. She joins from BlackRock where she was Head of Finance SEA, Korea and Taiwan.
  • Lim Seh Kuan is promoted to be Chief Accounting Officer Asia Pacific by Franklin Templeton Investments.
  • Lawrence Tsang joins Grosvenor Group as Asia Pacific Chief Financial Officer. He was previously Group Chief Financial Officer of Vistra.

Human Resources

  • Loren De Laine joins Allianz as Head of Talent Acquisition. She was formerly APAC Regional Talent Acquisition Lead of Western Union.
  • Alisha Fernando joins Bloomberg as Head of Diversity and Inclusion for APAC and relocates to Hong Kong. She was formerly with University of Melbourne as Associate Director of Diversity and Inclusion.
  • Jenny Pong Group Human Resources Director of JTH moves to Gammon Construction in a similar role.
  • Roberto Ravagnani is appointed Head of HR, International of Generali. He was formerly Group HR and Communication Director of Europ Assistance.
  • Tony Falso joins MSCI Inc. as Executive Director, Human Resources. He was Human Resources Director, Commodities and Global Markets, Asia at Macquarie Group before joining.
  • Kristin Miller is appointed Head of Human Resources of Nobel Group from AustralianSuper.
  • Ann Lee joins Shift Energy Japan KK as Global Head of Human Resources. She joined from BNP Paribas where she was the Head of Human Resources, Hong Kong.
  • Sandeep Mookharjea joins AIG as Head of Human Resources Asia Pacific. He was previously with Standard Chartered Bank.


  • Valer Merenyi relocates to Hanoi to be Chief Operating Officer of MB Ageas Life. He was formerly Regional Director Digital Strategy and Solutions of Ageas Insurance Company (Asia limited)
  • Richard Wyber is promoted to be Chief Partnership Distribution Officer of AIA. He was previously Head of AIA Singapore Vitality Programme.
  • Eric Chng joins Citco Group Limited as APAC Head of Business Development and relocates to Hong Kong. He joins from BNY Mellon.
  • Hsiu-Yi Lin is appointed ASEAN Head of Citi Commercial Bank. She was previously Commercial Bank Head of Singapore.
  • Luke Lu returns to Citigroup to be the Head of China Commercial Bank. He joins from MUFG where he was Head of Global Corporate Banking.
  • Pankajam Sridevi is appointed Managing Director, India of Commonwealth Bank of Australia and is starting in November. He was formerly Group General Manager Operations and Services of ANZ.
  • Horng Dar L joins MoovPay Global as Global Head of Operations. He was previously with 100 Resilient Cities (a civic and social organisation) and Deutsche Bank.
  • Andrew Dennison is appointed Chief Operating Officer of Serai and relocates to Hong Kong. He was previously Managing Director of Commercial Banking Growth and Innovation at HSBC based in London.
  • Joel Durbridge is appointed Chief of Staff of Serai. He joins from HSBC where he was Senior Manager of Growth and Innovation.
  • Rajiv Ahuja joins STARTEK as Global Chief Operating Officer. He joins from Convergys where he was the Country Manager India, China and Malaysia
  • Amit Jain who was Head of Asia Pacific of Uber has left. His role is taken over by Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty, who is currently heading Uber’s rides business in EMEA.

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