One of the priorities for Dominic Proctor, President, GroupM Global, during his India trip in 2013 was the launch of YCO (the Youth Executive Committee), which selected young talent from across the network to participate in leadership along with the senior leadership team.
CVL Srinivas, CEO, GroupM South Asia said, “We launched several new initiatives in 2013 as part of our New Me roadmap – which is helping us transform to a digitally-centric marketing communications network from just a media agency. YCO was one such initiative in the talent space. We wanted to harness the knowledge, energy and enthusiasm that exist at the junior levels of the organization and give them a platform where they could add value to our network.” The decision to form a committee of talented individuals, to complement the Executive Committee (senior leadership team), from across all its agencies and specialist units to form YCO yielded positive results and this year the media agency has selected 15 star performers to take this initiative forward.
Commenting on YCO, Gaurav Hirey, Chief Talent Officer, South Asia, GroupM said, “We decided to create a platform for participative management by getting the youth involved in decision making and hearing their ideas and opinions to create a better environment and company which is future ready.”
Selecting the YCO
The top performers based on the formal appraisal system and performance rating, qualify to be considered for YCO. The other criteria looked at is that the person should be under 30. This year over 40 shortlisted candidates were informed of their nomination and asked to send a one-minute audio-visual presentation or write in 150 words on why they should be part of YCO. In the final process, GroupM Mancom members scrutinised the submissions before selecting the final 15 YCO members.
As in the first year, the YCO members have been divided into three teams and each team assigned a project which is overlooked by a member from the Executive Committee (EXCO, the senior leadership team at GroupM). This year each YCO member have been assigned an EXCO member to mentor the talent. The projects this year focus on creating an environment to promote creativity and innovation, mapping the credentials of GroupM and defining the services to be delivered by way of SMART contracting.
Srinivas said, “The new batch of YCO will continue to work in areas that are strategically important for us and in line with our vision. We have also started a reverse mentoring program where each EXCO member (senior leadership team at GroupM) has a YCO mentor. YCO has definitely played a big role is helping GroupM stay young, hungry and embrace change.”
Learnings from the First YCO
Srinivas said, “The YCO worked closely with the senior leadership team (EXCO) through the year in three areas – digital transformation, talent retention and communication programs. We got a lot of rich and valuable insights from YCO in all these areas and have made several changes to the way we used to operate.” Hirey said that from an EXCO perspective, YCO was a reality check on what the youth of the organisation wanted, what were their drivers and also provided a few surprises and learnings. Hirey added that fearlessness present in today’s youth allows them to innovate, come up with new ideas and express what is on their minds.
Some of the recommendations given by YCO were:
Talent retention: Employees get a holiday on their birthday. An online tool to recognise people’s achievements in the organisation has resulted in formation of GroupM Stars which empowers everyone on the organisation to recognise and reward those who they believe have contributed.
Digital transformation: The focus last year was on the digital business and making it an integral part of the planning process. The YCOs came up with recommendations on the changes that must be implemented in processes.
Communication programs: Realise the importance of having a Public Relations person in the organisation. Communication function has been instituted based on this feedback. Another recommendation was increasing the social media presence of the company. The company has upped its presence on social media and Hirey says, “We are no more a media organisation, but a diversified organisation which provides careers and not jobs.” A post box was also installed in every cafeteria to establish a constant communication channel between employees and people who make decisions in the organisation.
After a year, the first batch of YCO have passed on the baton to the new batch recently and have graduated to become mBassadors, a role in which they will help mentor new joinees. In addition, the mBassadors become the face of the company by becoming spokespersons for their units and GroupM, and also helped shortlist the summer interns who were given placement offers.
What Does Team YCO say?
Danny Coutinho who is part of the Search Team says, “ I am looking at listening to people, how would a manager look at it and provide a solution, that’s the learning I am looking at from being a part of YCO.”
The HR professional in the group, Farzeen Udwadia, “I have been hiring media executives and people from different domains. This is the time for me to gain knowledge, get equipped and make a difference so that we can make a positive change in the lives of the employees working here.”
Ashima Chetan works with the Interaction and Social Unit, specifically on the Pepsi and Google mandate. “For me it is an absolutely whacked out chance to live 24 in 2014, it’s like a 10 year career jump, where I would be and what I would be doing 10 years from now, I get to do so in this one year.”
Manvi Singh, the legal expert in the team sees YCO as an opportunity to connect with the senior management and work closely with the business and the creative team which she sees as a big boon. She adds, “YCO is a platform to change myself from an in-house legal to a business partner and helping the business to move ahead.”
Divya Nair leads the Buying Business for Kellogg at Mindshare and believes that rather than looking at the buzz level, it is important to understand the ground realities and then co-relate it to business and says, “We have to put realistic targets. While doing innovations we also have to do justice to the business because at the end, the client isn’t buying ideas but wants results.” As part of YCO she looks to widen her horizon of learning by interacting with different generations.