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Attention towards finesse & craftsmanship in Sapient Nitro India, is like never before: Donald Chesnut

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Attention towards finesse & craftsmanship in Sapient Nitro India, is like never before: Donald Chesnut

“Sapient Nitro is a partner to brands, helping them transform for a new world” says the agency’s Global Creative Officer, Donald Chesnut.

Chesnut divulges that India forms a huge part of the agency, given the diversity in people, in gender, in sexual orientation, he also looks at diversities in capabilities and in global approach, since that makes Sapient Nitro very different in India.

“Being an agency that is focused around innovation, creativity, and also understanding the world of technology and India plays a big part in that,” he adds.

In an exclusive chat, Chesnut reveals how Sapient Nitro is positioning itself in the Indian market, its focus areas here and more...

How do you address diversity in talent? How do you recruit in terms of what it brings to the table?

I am not your “traditional” Chief Creative Officer, I command my role with a history and evolution that I feel is different from many Chief Creative Officers. I have an undergraduate degree in Computer Science, I come from the field of user experience, while most CCO’s are from the traditional advertising background. 

I feel like someone that has not just  broken the mould, but is a little different, and I have continued over the last five years as I have worked with senior creative leaders to get them to be more diverse  even in their thinking. When I  talk about diversity it is  not only with regards to people, in gender, in sexual orientation, but as I also have said, to my creatives internally I mean diversities in capabilities, I also mean diversity in global approach, because that’s the one thing that makes Sapient Nitro very different in India.

India forms a huge part of our company, it is the majority of our company and we are an agency that is focused around innovation, creativity, and also understanding the world of technology and India plays a big part in that.  I am trying to get folks to really think of diversity in all its forms and all that it means. 

The best ideas come from teams that are fully functioning, where everyone has a voice and then there is clear leadership. I talk to creatives within SapientNitro and say that you need to think about perspectives that are different, a perspective that is, maybe, a talent from our India studio that has an equal contribution to the local talent that knows the brand in France or the US.

The best work comes when there are a variety of perspectives. When you are looking at a brand problem from all different ways, be it communications, building a mobile app or creating a product, that’s where I think capabilities and perspectives become very important.

You said that India is a major part of Sapient Nitro, but the agency has been making its presence felt in India properly in the last 2-3 years...

I’m glad you are asking me to clarify. We may be visible in India in the agency space for the last 2-5 years, since Pops (KV Sridhar Chief Creative Officer Sapient Nitro) and others have arrived. We have been focusing on growing talent in India since 1999, since we opened it.  If you look at the brand – Sapient Nitro, the majority of Sapient Nitro people are in India.

We have tremendous talent in technology, in all our services and in our studio and as we started to build India, we started to look at our global footprint to know how to approach our projects in a way that makes most sense from a technology talent and from a creative- design- talent perspective. So we have been there for many years, and that’s why I say it’s a big part of our company.

It is a brand that people know on the streets. In the agency space, we have been on the radar for only two years, but that is part of how we looked at the market. As the world has become continuously more global, we saw an opportunity and opened services for the local market and started with bringing on people like Pops.

On some landscapes, we are a relatively new player. If you look at our evolution, we have been honing our capabilities in the future direction, the agency space is something that in the last few years has become very crystal clear, and we are actually positioning what we have. Earlier, we focused on digital and related services and now it is idea-driven digital. The agency space has become important and then we looked at different markets like South America and India.

 As CCO how would you define Sapient Nitro in terms of its positioning, what do you see it as?

A partner to brands, helping them transform for a new world, is what I feel we do. It is less about our specific capabilities; and as I look at some of the work that we have done in the last couple of years in India, it is helping brands to make the most of new communications. The British Airways campaign was a long form film that was made entirely for digital. With that film we broke the mould, though many felt it was a long film for the digital medium, but what I love about it is that it gives British Airways, that positions itself around service, a human personality.

What are your focus areas for India?

Focus areas continue to be craftsmanship. I am very impressed to see how far they have come. We have technologists in India that are fantastic innovators and I am constantly thinking of ways to continue to leverage them into our global networks. 

What can we expect from Sapient Nitro India?

In my visits to India, it’s shocking how I have seen the talent evolve, the country continues to evolve at a rapid pace, but the creativity and the  calibre in design depressed me. Now, I am seeing attention towards finesse and craftsmanship that I have never seen before.

You can expect continued boundary breaking ideas. The Indian team is now is firing on all cylinders, and we are hiring and growing, and I do feel pretty confident that they can do anything. I saw them do some fantastic ecommerce and digital platform design work with Taj Hotels, and now they are taking it further by going beyond digital and thinking about the experiential touch points.

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