Four GroupM Leaders Recognized on EMpower 100 Lists

London, (22 May 2024) – Today, four leaders across the GroupM UK and EMEA teams have been recognized in EMpower’s annual EMpower 100 Executives Role Model List and EMpower 100 Future Leaders Role Model List, showcasing leaders paving the way toward increasing representation and driving inclusion for others in the workplace. 

Julia Rast, Global Senior Director for Emerging Innovation at GroupM EMEA, features on the EMpower Executives list, and Ashford Mills, Global Project Manager at GroupM Nexus, Matthew Chew, Paid Social Innovation Lead with EssenceMediacom and Chelsea Breur, Social Creative Director at Wavemaker appear on the Future Leaders list. 

Founder & CEO of INvolve, Suki Sandhu OBE, says, “I’m so thrilled to be celebrating this global group of trailblazing Executives, Future Leaders and Advocates for people of color in business. All the individuals within these lists are championing inclusion and leveraging their expertise and knowledge to drive impactful initiatives and strategic change within their organizations. It’s vital that people of color across global organizations can succeed and achieve career success, and these Role Models are essential drivers of change who are smashing barriers to progress. We could not effect change without them leading the way.” 

Josh Krichefski, GroupM EMEA & UK CEO commented: “I’m incredibly proud of our four colleagues who have been awarded these well-deserving accolades. These lists celebrate role models in business who are driving increased representation and inclusion for others, both in and outside of business. It’s amazing that our people are being celebrated for their fantastic achievements in breaking down barriers.” 

Julia Rast, Global Senior Director, Emerging Innovation at GroupM and WPP’s Inclusion Board member drives initiatives to promote representation and unlock communities within the workplace, drawing from her mixed-race background. Her contributions include orchestrating the ‘Home at Work’ exhibition at the WPP Campus in Amsterdam, which is recognized for celebrating bi-cultural identity and fostering a diverse workplace environment. Julia spearheaded campaigns delving into non-Dutch cultural celebrations, raising awareness and promoting familiarity with diverse cultures. She actively creates educational workshops addressing socially challenging topics around cultural celebrations. Julia’s advocacy extends beyond her workplace, emphasizing, recognizing and embracing diversity. Julia amplifies the call for inclusivity and representation through her event expertise and presence. Her commitment to fostering an inclusive workplace is further demonstrated through initiatives like Flexible Public Holidays, which allow employees to observe cultural and religious dates that are significant to them. 

Ashford Mills, a Global Project Manager at GroupM, is the Lead of GroupM Roots ERG, where he spearheaded initiatives to promote inclusivity, such as encouraging colleagues to record their names in email signatures for correct pronunciation during National Inclusion Month, expanding the practice across EMEA with plans for APAC. Ashford also contributed to WPP’s Consumer Equality Equation report, offering personal insights to shape the study on ethnicity and the consumer experience in the UK. In recognition of Black History Month, he hosted a fireside discussion with the senior commissioning editor of Merky Books, Lemara Lindsay Prince, emphasizing storytelling and amplifying the voices of Black and Brown authors. This partnership marks the beginning of Ashford’s efforts to expand literary engagement beyond Black History Month, demonstrating his ongoing dedication to diversity and inclusion initiatives. 

Beyond his day job ensuring influencer and paid social campaigns have authentic and inclusive representation and recognition, Matthew spearheads diversity and inclusion efforts within the WPP network. As WPP Creative Community representative for EssenceMediacom and member of WPP’s UK Inclusion Council, he champions diverse talent recruitment and retention, ensuring inclusivity across all intersections. He is a founding member of Unite – WPP’s LGBTQIA+ Community – and currently serves as its UK Co-Chair. He is a leader within Roots and Faith Employee Community Groups, amplifying diverse voices and elevating visibility for East & Southeast Asian (ESEA) communities through curated e-zines and speaker events, fostering understanding and recognition. A sought-after speaker and panelist, Matthew shares insights on diversity in advertising, addressing tokenism and intersectionality from his lived experience as pansexual and ESEA. His commitment to inclusivity resonates in both professional engagements and personal endeavors, advocating for marginalized voices and fostering empathy and understanding. 

Chelsea Breur, Social Creative Director at Wavemaker, is dedicated to fostering a sense of belonging and celebrating diversity within the workplace. Her impactful project, ‘Home at Work,’ exhibited at the WPP campus, celebrates the bi-cultural identities of individuals within the WPP community, showcasing their rich diversity and cultural heritage. With a background in documentary photography, Chelsea collaborates with renowned photographer Stacii Samidin on autonomous art projects focusing on capturing the daily lives of bicultural individuals. Their ongoing photo series, “Home,” explores the concept of belonging and showcases the diverse environments where individuals feel at home. Through art and storytelling, Chelsea amplifies the voices and experiences of bicultural individuals, contributing to a broader conversation about diversity and inclusion. Her initiatives inspire positive change, fostering understanding and appreciation for the richness of diverse backgrounds both within and beyond the workplace. 

The full EMpower lists can be viewed here.