Six CEOs making leadership moves across Asia

Mercedes-Benz, Barclays, Colliers, Generali, Bank of Bahrain and Kuwait among companies appointing CEOs for their Asia operations – from Malaysia to India


Amanda Zhang

President, CEO

Mercedes-Benz Malaysia

Relocating from Romania to Malaysia, Amanda Zhang is now heading up the Malaysia operations for Mercedes-Benz as CEO and President and has also assumed the role of regional head of Mercedes-Benz Cars SEA II.

Zhang comes to the role with “extensive leadership experience and strategic acumen”, according to previous Malaysia CEO Sagree Sardien.

Previously serving as CEO for the company’s Romania operations, Amanda achieved double-digit growth in sales and customer services, drove the electrification strategy and revitalised the dealer network.

Her impressive career with Daimler AG, which owns Mercedes-Benz, spans two decades where she has managed numerous international projects, including the relocation of all wholesale operations from Hong Kong to Beijing.

Amanda Zhang has relocated to Malaysia to head up Mercedes-Benz there


Rachel Huf


Barclays Hong Kong

As part of a reshuffle of Hong Kong and India teams, UK bank Barclays has appointed Rachel Huf as Hong Kong CEO, according to Bloomberg. 

She will also continue is her role as general counsel.

This appointment comes as the bank steps up efforts to boost female leadership across its global markets business in APAC.

With a career at Barclays spanning nearly two decades, Huf has served as General Counsel for APAC since 2015, supporting the bank on key initiatives, from building a cash equities business to restructuring the region’s franchise in 2016.

Huf has been instrumental in leading diversity, founding the Women’s Network in the region in 2006 and spearheading the bank’s DEI agenda over the last 18 years.

Before joining Barclays in 2004, Huf served as senior counsel at Deutsche Bank for five years. She has a degree in law.

Rachel Huf has been with Barclays for nearly two decades


Badal Yagnik

CEO India


Real estate veteran Badal Yagnik is set to helm operations for property consultant firm Colliers in India.

This follows exponential growth for Colliers India over the last four years, with the Nasdaq-listed firm continuing to be the fastest-growing real estate services in India and is “poised to deliver higher growth to the global economy”, says Badal.

Described by APAC CEO John Kenny as an “exceptional leader”, Yagnik has been credited with establishing robust cross-border teams, while creating some of the most profitable businesses in India.

During the last three decades, Yagnik has held leadership roles at some of the most reputed real estate firms, reprenting global and local corporate clients, crafting end-to-end real estate solutions and executing large-scale transactions.

Yagnik, who began his career in commercial real estate in 2007 after serving as an office in the Indian Army, most recently served as MD, Tenant Representation at leading property consulting firm Cushman & Wakefield and was a part of the APAC executive leadership team.

With three decades of real estate leadership, Badal Yagnik is well-placed to Colliers in India


Dr Hak Hong Soo


Generali Philippines

Soon to step into the CEO role at Generali Philippines, Dr Hak Hong Soo will lead the ambitious growth plans in the country for one of the world’s largest global insurers.

With more than 20 years of experience in both life and health insurance and reinsurance, and diverse regional exposure focused on China, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia, Soo has spent the last six years as Regional Head of Health, Asia at Generali.

He further led the International Asia Business Unit, strengthening the regional health business and advancing the firm’s business transformation agenda.

Before this, Soo worked at Munich Re’s Asia offices in various managerial roles for more than 12 years and has held key actuarial roles, including as Chief Actuary of PT AJ Sequis Life in Indonesia.

Fluent in English, Malay and Mandarin, Soo has a PhD in economics and insurance and is an Associate Member of the Society of Actuaries.

Dr Hak Hong Soo will lead Generali Philippines


Madhav Nair

CEO, Country Head India

Bank of Bahrain and Kuwait

Widely regarded as an authority in banking circles, seasoned banker Madhav Nair has been named the new CEO and Country Head for Bank of Bahrain and Kuwait (BBK).

Headquartered out of Bahrain, BBK has four branches in India and Nair is tasked with spearheading the bank’s operations in the country – as part of BBK’s strategic plan to bolster its presence in India.

Armed with impressive credentials, and nearly 30 years of banking experience, Nair joins from Mashreq Bank where he spent 13 years, including a decade as CEO for India. He has also held senior roles at Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank and Emirates NBD.

An advocate of policy change, especially around ESG and digital banking, Nair’s voice has been key in bringing forth change in India, and he currently serves as Deputy Chairman of the Indian Banks’ Association. He has a master’s in management and strategy.

Madhav Nair is the new CEO for Bank of Bahrain and Kuwait in India


Muhammad Amir Hayat


Pakistan International Airlines

As plans for Pakistan International Airways (PIA) to privatise accelerate, Former Air Vice Marshal Muhammad Amir Hayat has been brought on board as CEO for one year to turn the loss-making airline around.

This follows an agreement by the IMF in June to provide the airline with US$3 billion in short-term financing.

Hayat, who has been acting CEO since April 2022, is working to turn the airline around with plans to resume flights to the UK in the next three months.

With a career spanning three decades, Hayat has served in the Pakistan Air Force at various levels of aviation engineering and management and worked as MD, Aircraft Rebuild Factory. His diplomatic experience includes an appointment as Technical Attache to Beijing.


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