Starcom appoints Benish Irshad as COO

Unwavered by the pandemic induced recession, the Publicis Groupe franchise has ramped up its internal promotions to improve diversity and inclusion.

KARACHI: Starcom Pakistan has appointed Benish Irshad as a chief operating officer (COO). The full-service advertising agency made the external hire in order to drive change in terms of adding value in processes and adding clients to the portfolio.

The role was previously held by Farhan Khan, who was promoted to the position of CEO after over 13 years with the non-ownership Publicis Groupe franchise.

A brand building professional with 16 years of working experience, Irshad joined Mindshare as a media planner in 2004 right after completing her undergraduate in marketing from IoBM. She went on to lead marketing roles at Procter and Gamble for ten years before switching to Lotte Kolson as the head of marketing. 

Procter and Gamble and Lotte Kolson are both media clients of Starcom Pakistan, with the former having been a client for over 20 years due to the non-ownership Publicis Groupe franchise while the latter was won in January 2020 as a media client.

Diversity and inclusion at Starcom

A survey conducted by Profit found that female professionals in the media and advertising industry rank & regard Z2C Limited and its subsidiaries as part of a wishlist of companies to work for, after BBDO, Unilever, and L’Oreal.

Due to Merchant, the culture at Z2C Limited and its subsidiaries is widely regarded as meritorious by nature, with an average decade tenure among top-performing employees. 

A spokesperson for Starcom Pakistan told Profit that 31 per cent of the media agencies’ 167 total employees are women. The media holding company is widely regarded as a career accelerator, with key positions at Google, Procter & Gamble, Telenor, and Dial Zero held by former employees of Z2C and its subsidiaries, according to LinkedIn analytics. Farhan Quresh and Omar Abedin, former CEOs of Starcom Pakistan, are now respectively regional head of Google and chief marketing officer of Graana.

The appointment of Irshad, a seasoned female professional, is part of a wider strategy by the media holding company to improve its diversity and inclusion. In June 2020, Urooj Hussain was named head of MediaVest after nearly eight consecutive years.

Like Irshad, Hussain is a graduate of IoBM and has held media roles since 2009, starting her career with Starcom. After eight years with Starcom Pakistan as the planning and strategy lead, Fizzah Shahid was promoted to associate director.

Eisha Salim was functionally promoted to the head of planning in June 2020 and title wise business lead for MediaVest. With the exception of a client-side stint with Lotte Kolson, Salim has been a part of Publicis Groupe since 2014.

In 2020, her work for Dawlance and EFU campaigns resulted in winning two gold Effies for Starcom Pakistan.

Babar Khan Javed
Babar Khan Javed
Babar Khan Javed covers the advertising industry and marketing function in Pakistan for Profit. He can be reached on [email protected] with details about media, creative, and digital briefs, future projects, management changes, client wins or losses, and everything in between.

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