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Darren Burns has been elevated to vice-chair for Asia Pacific and Lydia Lee is now president of China at public relations firm Weber Shandwick.

Burns was formerly president at Weber Shandwick China and is based in Shanghai. Lee was previously the co-chair of Weber Shandwick’s global technology practice.

The announcement:

Weber Shandwick, one of the world’s leading communications and marketing solutions firms, today announced that Darren Burns will become vice chair, Asia Pacific. Lydia Lee, has been promoted to president, China.

Reporting to Baxter Jolly, CEO, Asia Pacific, Burns will be based in Singapore. Lee will also report to Jolly, working closely with Burns and David Liu, chairman of Weber Shandwick China.

Andy Polansky, CEO of Weber Shandwick, visited the country to celebrate this announcement which coincides with the firm’s 25 year anniversary in China.

“Weber Shandwick’s China business has seen staggering growth over the past decade due to the collective leadership of Darren, David and Lydia,” Polansky said.

“The firm has expanded its footprint beyond Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong into Guangzhou and Shenzhen, in addition to expanding the agency’s offerings into new innovative areas such as content-to-commerce and influencer management.

“Their pioneering efforts in being amongst the first-to-market in digital, data and analytics, and creative has resulted in Weber Shandwick China becoming a truly integrated marketing services powerhouse in China.”

Polansky added: “These promotions are well deserved and appropriate as we celebrate this quarter century milestone of operations in China. Darren has been a formidable leader in China’s marketing communications industry for the past 12 years – close to half the time we’ve been operating here.

“He has been a visionary, a collaborator, an entrepreneur but above all, a true leader who has worked with a team of outstanding professionals that make Weber Shandwick one of the most awarded PR agency’s in Greater China.”

Burns’ exceptional reputation as an industry leader is supported by his numerous accolades over the years including being named Lujiazui Financial City Charity Ambassador in 2018 by the Shanghai government for his services to charity, and part of the inaugural Innovator 25 Asia Pacific list in 2016 by The Holmes Report. That same year he was named Digital Marketing Expert of the Year at the Digital China Annual Awards. In 2015, Burns was named Australia China Alumni of the Year by the Australia China Alumni Association, and in 2014, Most Influential PR Leader at the China Business and Media Leaders’ Forum.

Polansky also commented on Lee’s promotion: Lydia is the perfect successor to take on the leadership of our business in China. Having been with the Interpublic Group family since 2005, she is highly regarded within the industry as a leading strategist and expert on China. Lydia’s passion, drive and determination to connect China to the rest of the world is contagious and many of our clients and colleagues have Lydia to thank for helping them to pioneer new horizons.”

Lee’s list of accolades is also impressive winning the 2018 title of PR Professional of the Year – Agency at Campaign Asia’s PR Awards Asia, and Mentor of the Year at the Campaign Asia’s Women Leading Change Awards, the same year. In 2017, she was named to Campaign Asia’s Women to Watch and The Holmes Report’s Innovator 25 Asia Pacific. In 2015, she was among the 100 Most Influential Tech Agency PR Executives in the World by HotTopics.

Jolly concluded: “Both appointments showcase the bench strength of our China and wider Asia Pacific regional team. Our ability to promote from within in this highly-important market is a testament to the firm’s commitment to ensuring management stability and continuity, which is unrivalled in this region. This stability has, in essence, provided the foundation for the stellar growth.”

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