SHANGHAI (AdAge.com) -- In high-level moves by marketers to and from China, rising star Emma Walmsley has stunned China's luxury marketing community by resigning her VP position at L'Oreal Group in Shanghai for a London-based international job at GlaxoSmithKline. Another marketer, Nike, is hiring Ivan Wicksteed as senior director, marketing for China and Asia/Pacific, a move that will take him to Shanghai from New York, where he was Coca-Cola Co's global creative director.
Ms. Walmsley will become GSK's president-consumer health care for Europe and president designate-worldwide consumer health care, starting May 1, 2010.
Ms. Walmsley is well known in China for her marketing savvy and strong personality. For the past two years, she has run the French cosmetics giant's consumer products division, which includes the global brands L'Oreal Paris, Maybelline and Garnier as well as Mininurse, a Chinese skin-care brand acquired by L'Oreal in 2003.
A U.K. native, she joined L'Oreal, the world's largest cosmetics maker, 14 years ago and has held marketing roles in Paris, London, and New York, but her achievements in China, according to company insiders surprised by her departure, made her a strong contender for a senior global management role at L'Oreal.
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She's found such a role at GSK, where she will initially be responsible for European business and brands, succeeding Manfred Scheske. Within two years, global leadership for the consumer health-care business will pass from John Clarke, president, worldwide consumer health care, to Ms. Walmsley.
"In just under three years, Emma has greatly accelerated the growth in L'Oreal's China consumer business," Mr. Clarke said. "She has a strong track record and experience in fast-moving consumer-goods marketing in both established and emerging markets."
Under Ms. Walmsley's leadership, L'Oreal aggressively pursued growth in China through innovations on global brands, new product launches and investment in sales and distribution. L'Oreal has 11.7% of China's cosmetics market, and reported 2009 sales up 18% to $1.19 billion.
Wicksteed to China
Starting July 1, former Coke exec Ivan Wicksteed will oversee marketing for Converse in China and work with the company's licensees to drive brand development initiatives in the region, confirmed Nate Tobecksen, communications director for Nike affiliates in Beaverton, Oregon. Mr. Wicksteed succeeds Cheryl Calegari, who is now senior director of marketing for the Converse brand in the U.K.
Mr. Wicksteed spent the past five-and-a-half years in New York as the global creative director at Coca-Cola Co., a company he said he is sad to be leaving. "[Coca-Cola] has gone through something of a creative Renaissance over the past five years and I hope that continues," he said.
"Whilst I'm excited about the new opportunity I'm sad to leave this company, partly because I'm proud of the work I've produced here, from the Coke Side of Life campaign to Open Happiness, including three Olympics and two World Cups," Mr. Wicksteed said in an internal e-mail announcing his resignation.
Mr. Wicksteed said he "has been looking to move East for a while now and this opportunity was simply too good to miss. Creativity in China [is] exploding now. I believe that we will see a tipping point in the public perception of China as a creative epicenter in the next few years. Converse as a brand is at the heart of this movement -- and is in some ways leading it."