SHANGHAI — Glenn Osaki is departing MSL after 32 years to become chief communications officer at USC.

Osaki's departure comes almost 15 years after he took charge of MSL's fledgling Asian operation in China. Since then, the firm has grown to more than 40 offices and 1,500 people across the region, thanks in part to a string of acquisitions, helping him secure the Individual Achievement SABRE in 2016

At USC, Osaki will report directly to interim president Wanda Austin and president-elect Carol Folt when he begins the role on 1 June.

He leaves MSL 32 years after joining the agency in the US, where he was Los Angeles MD before relocating to Shanghai. In recent years, Publicis Groupe has restructured its agency operations, with local P&L's reporting into Publicis Communications market heads, rather than regional brand leadership.

"Glenn Osaki holds a special place in the history of our firm," said MSL global CEO Guillaume Herbette via email. "He has been a transformative leader who has contributed in mighty ways to building our global network into one of the top firms in the world. I join with MSL colleagues around the world in thanking Glenn for his contributions to our firm and wishing him the very best on the next step of his career."

The firm did not comment on whether Osaki's role will be replaced in Asia. However, sources from within the group noted that the role is unlikely to be filled. MSL recently hired former Unilever VP Jun Xu as China CEO, based in Shanghai, and can call on its regional and global leadership teams. 

"The opportunity to help guide USC into a new era as part of president-elect Carol Folt’s senior leadership team is truly the chance of a lifetime," said Osaki in a staement. "I am thrilled to apply my international brand-building and reputation management experience from outside of academia to provide an innovative perspective on digital storytelling and data-driven influence to shape USC’s communications." 

Osaki's responsibilities at USC will include shaping the university’s overall communications strategy, serving as principal spokesperson for USC and collaborating with communications officers across the University Park and Health Sciences campuses to highlight achievements in research, teaching, scholarship and other facets of university life. He will also oversee USC’s Cultural Relations and University Events office and all internal communications activities.

"Mr. Osaki has built a career on high ethical standards and solid relationships with stakeholders, as well as innovative team-building," Austin said. "We are delighted to have such a talented leader to promote the excellent work of our 'Trojan Family', and to ensure that USC’s many remarkable stories are told, both here and around the world."

Osaki earned his master’s degree in public relations from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. He currently serves on the board of advisors of the USC Center for Public Relations at USC Annenberg.