Omelet announced this morning that Thas Naseemuddeen has been elevated from managing director and chief strategy officer to chief executive officer of the independent agency based in Culver City, Calif. Naseemuddeen succeeds Don Kurz, who moves to the position of executive board chair from the CEO role he held for eight years.
“Thas is a seasoned executive who brings a strong strategic rigor and empathetic lens to everything we do,” said Kurz. “She has already made an indelible mark on this place and our industry at large, and I can think of no one better suited to shepherd Omelet into its next era of growth. She is truly a CEO built for the modern era.”
Naseemuddeen has been at the agency for four years in a variety of roles and had previously worked at agencies in the Los Angeles market including BBH, Deutsch and TBWAChiatDay on brands like Target, Google, Lexus and Coca-Cola.
“I was employee No. 8 at BBH L.A.,” recalled Naseemuddeen. “It was a special experience, helping to bring that [agency] to life in the market. Then working at a place like Deutsch and Chiat gave me even more exposure to incredible brands and talent.”
At present, the agency has 65 employees, and the client roster includes Princess Cruises, Pokemon, Walmart, AT&T, Nickelodeon and Guardian Insurance, a brand that recently launched its first widescale brand campaign in its 158-year history.
A substantial part of Nasseemudden’s remit is to not only grow the agency’s business but to continue to evolve the agency’s reputation and offering.
“It’s important for us to be ambitious,” she said. “Whether that’s in our creativity, the end-to-end customer experience, or creating ways to integrate ourselves with partners better to solve their business issues. We will continue to push so that we can think differently for clients and expand the aperture of how they look at an advertising agency as a full-service marketing solution.”
Indeed, Omelet, which is in one of Culver City’s more unique buildings at Hayden Tract, has established itself as a sometimes quirky yet accessible agency with an emphasis on the collective personality of its people.
“We’re very well known for being a group of nice, warm people,” said Nasseemuddeen. “That’s not something that you hear in our industry sometimes, and we’re really proud of it.”
As a leader, Nasseemuddeen counts her fearlessness as a crucial part of her growth. Early in her career as a strategist at a small shop in San Diego, she took to Twitter in its earlier days to engage with the industry’s luminaries.
“I met many fascinating and influential people there,” she said. “That’s how I ended up getting to know (current TBWAChiat|Day CEO) Rob Schwartz. I was the precocious kid with a bunch of opinions about what was happening in the industry, and it helped build my confidence.”
Naseemuddeen also counts Heidi Hackemer, founder and chairman of Wolf & Wilhelmine and BBH legends Cindy Gallop and Mel Exon as essential influences on her career as well.
“Cindy has always told me to never feel bad for wanting all of this [success] because we work hard for it and deserve it. Mel taught me the importance of empathy not just in how we interact with each other at work, but through the lens of strategy as well,” she said. “People like her and Heidi have been strong figures in this industry and non-apologetic about ambition.”
From this point forward, it’s now Naseemuddeen’s turn to take that philosophy forward, especially in an agency world with decreasing margins and consolidation.
“One of the most interesting and pressing parts of my tenure as CEO is going to be how to keep our independent spirit while growing our business,” she said. “It will certainly be one of my greatest challenges … but it’s one that I’m up for.”