The management team at integrated creative advertising agency MetropolitanRepublic is now stronger than ever following the appointment of Karen Ballenden as managing director, group CEO Alison Deeb has announced.
Ballenden is no stranger to the business, having been part of the launch team of the agency and, since March 2013, working as group regional business unit director to oversee MetropolitanRepublic’s role as the lead strategic and creative agency for MTN Global and the company’s South -East Africa region.
“I have worked with Karen over many years and enjoy a very close working relationship with her – tried and tested!” said Deeb. “Our board and executive team value her as an ambassador for the MetropolitanRepublic brand and, notably, as a strong operational leader who will work with us to lead a newly restructured executive team, responsible for taking Metro to the next level.”
Ballenden holds a Bachelor of Arts degree (majoring in communications and sociology) from the University of Johannesburg, a postgraduate diploma in media management from the AAA School of Advertising, and a diploma in photography from Northeastern University, Boston.
She started her career in communications and advertising in 1999 in London. When she returned home in 2002, she worked as an account manager at Joe Public in Johannesburg and The Jupiter Drawing Room on brands such as CTM, Nedbank, Nu Metro (Africa) and Peermont Global (Emperors Palace).
A year of client-side experience as marketing manager at Emperors Palace followed, but she returned to the agency world as client service director at Cross Colours on Nando’s SA and UK, Group Five, Oracle, Virgin Money SA and Brait, among others.
When she was headhunted by The Jupiter Group in 2007 to help start MetropolitanRepublic as general manager and client service director, Ballenden’s experience proved crucial in managing clients such as MTN, Incredible Connection and Faritec.
A stint of freelancing followed before she rejoined Cross Colours to work on brands such as Castle Lite, Steers, Jack Daniel’s, Sasol Oil, Netcare 911 and Southern Eleven. Before long, though she was back at the The Jupiter Drawing Room and MetropolitanRepublic to direct the strategic alignment of the MTN brand across 22 markets.
MetropolitanRepublic, open since 2007, employs more than 150 staff across offices in Johannesburg (our headquarters), Zambia, Swaziland, Rwanda and Uganda. We are a problem-solving agency employing a diverse group of people to come up with ideas, rather than ads, to provide solutions for our clients and enhance their bottom lines. For us, the problem is always at the centre, and we look at how we can create and idea to solve that problem.