Co-founder Earl Santee named as new chief executive among a raft of other appointments

Earl_Santee Populous

Co-founder and new chief executive Earl Santee

Populous has completed a major global management shake-up six months after a private equity firm bought a minority stake in the practice.

Co-founder Earl Santee has been appointed as chief executive in order to drive a “unified leadership vision”, combining the role with his current position of chair of the global board of directors.

Nicholas_Reynolds Populous

New global chief strategy officer Nicholas Reynolds

The Tottenham stadium architect’s senior principal for the EMEA region Nicholas Reynolds has become global chief strategy officer and will be reported to by global head of sustainability Mohit Mehta and global head of digital Jonathan Nelson.

Richard Breslin has been named as a new co-managing director for the Asia Pacific region, joining longstanding managing director for the region Paul Henry, who is another of the firm’s founders.

Regional sustainability leads have also been appointed for EMEA, David Jarratt, and Asia Pacific, Kavita Gonsalves, while new digital leads, Barbara Vasiltou and Jason Gardner, have been appointed to the same regions respectively, with Jason Gardner covering the digital brief in the Americas.

Mohit Mehta

Global head of sustainability Mohit Mehta

The raft of new appointments comes in the wake of a “strategic minority investment” into Populous by private equity firm Providence Equity Partners last October.

> Also read: ‘A nightclub on a massive scale’: touring Populous’ £365m Co-op Live arena

The pair said at the time that the deal would allow Populous to expand its “service offerings and geographic presence” around the globe.

The firm confirmed there has been no change to the role of Chris Lee, the practice’s senior principal and managing director for EMEA who is based in London.

Commenting on his appointment as chief executive, Santee said: “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.”

Reynolds added: “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.”

The announcements also come a week after the practice won the job to design what will be the largest football stadium in the world, the Grand Stade de Casablanca in Morocco, beating a shortlist which included Foster & Partners, Herzog & de Meuron and Zaha Hadid Architects.

> Also read: Populous reveals proposals for clifftop stadium in Saudi Arabia

Jonathan Nelson

Global head of digital Jonathan Nelson

The 115,000-seat arena, which has been designed with local architects Oualalou & Choi, could host the 2030 World Cup following Morocco’s naming as joint hosts of the tournament alongside Spain and Portugal.

Pictures of the proposed scheme are currently being kept under wraps by Morocco’s King Mohammed VI, although they are expected to be unveiled in the coming weeks.

Populous’ designs are understood to resemble a giant tented roof inspired by a type of traditional Moroccan social gathering known as a ‘moussem’.

Enabling works on the 100-acre site are already underway in the town of El Mansouria, 38km north of Casablanca.