Populous Announces New Global and APAC Regional Leadership Roles

March 22, 2024

Populous today announces a number of strategic global organizational changes.

Earl Santee, one of the founders of the practice and Chair of the Global Board of Directors since 2020, has also been appointed as the firm’s Chief Executive Officer. In this dual role, Santee will drive a unified leadership vision, aligning operational execution with strategic oversight.

Nicholas Reynolds, Senior Principal within Populous’ EMEA region, becomes Chief Global Strategy Officer.  Reynolds has been at Populous for 27 years and has worked on a diverse portfolio of innovative and iconic projects around the world, specializing in the design and transformation of iconic major stadia and arenas. In his new role as Chief Global Strategy Officer, he is responsible for driving the evolution and growth of the practice through organic and inorganic initiatives in new and existing services lines.

Reporting to Reynolds are Mohit Mehta, Global Head of Sustainability, and Jonathan Nelson, Global Head of Digital.

Mehta is responsible for driving the company’s position as a global sustainable design leader and overseeing Populous’ overall sustainability vision, strategy and compliance throughout the practice and the design process. Supporting the creation and implementation of a regional sustainable design strategy, Mehta also serves as the sustainability lead for the Americas region. Regional sustainability leaders have also been appointed in the EMEA (David Jarratt) and APAC (Kavita Gonsalves) regions.

Jonathan Nelson, Global Head of Digital, is responsible for driving the firm’s fully integrated digital innovation strategy, maximizing digital design capabilities and systems, and driving value from design and performance technologies across the global company. The role serves as the primary interface between global and regional organizations to ensure optimal use of technological infrastructure. Regional digital leads have also been appointed: Barbara Vasilatou (EMEA), Jason Gardner (Americas) and Nathan Tobeck (APAC).

Earl Santee, Global Chair and CEO, comments:

“As a practice we are 40 years old this year. Throughout that time, it is the talent of our teams and a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship that has continued to drive us forward. The recent investment into the company from Providence Equity Partners signals a new era of growth for Populous. I am proud to take on the role of Global CEO as we continue to innovate to better serve our clients and to continue our mission of designing the places where people love to be together.”

Nicholas Reynolds, Chief Global Strategy Officer, adds:

“As we take Populous into a new phase of growth, our philosophy of design excellence remains completely fundamental to who we are and the work we do. Alongside that, our commitment to sustainable design and digital innovation underpins our ability to lead our industry and create transformative venues, experiences and events for both clients and fans.

 In APAC, as Populous continues to see growth across the diverse Asia Pacific region, the company announces the appointment of Richard Breslin to a Co-Managing Director role, joining longstanding APAC MD and one of the firms’ founders, Paul Henry, in the role.

Breslin is based in Hong Kong, while Paul Henry remains based at the company’s APAC HQ in Brisbane.

Paul Henry, APAC Co-Managing Director, comments:

“This is an exciting time for Populous across Asia Pacific as we continue to build on our world-leading success in the region. Richard brings tremendous leadership to the role, and with his base in Hong Kong he is positioned to further drive our strategy and success in Asia.”

Richard Breslin, APAC Co-Managing Director, adds:

“As we bring the extraordinary Kai Tak Sports project to realization in Hong Kong, it will establish a new global design benchmark in Asia, showcasing our Populous talent and strategy across the Asian market.” 


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