After being in the media industry for 39 years, John Steedman, the CEO and Chairman of GroupM APAC, is retiring. GroupM India bid farewell to Steedman on March 10, 2009. The venue – Joss in Mumbai - was the same that had seen the farewell bash to Andre Nair when he was leaving GroupM India in 2004, and when Ashutosh Srivastava was bidding adieu to GroupM India to take on his current role as Mindshare APAC CEO, which had included relocating to Singapore.
The get-together saw the presence of the Indian media industry’s Who’s Who. To name a few --- Madison Media’s Sam Balsara, ZEEL’s Punit Goenka and Joy Chakraborthy, MSM’s Rohit Gupta and Albert Almeida, Real Global Broadcasting’s Sunil Lulla, NDTV Media’s Raj Nayak, Radio City’s Apurva Purohit, BBC World News’ Seema Mohapatra, BCCL’s Bhaskar Das, DNA’s K U Rao and Ayaz Memon, WWM’s Tarun Rai, Lokmat Group’s Jwalant Swaroop and Bharat Kapadia, Conde Nast India’s Alex Kuruvilla, Red FM’s Abraham Thomas, MediaCom’s Divya Gururaj and former GroupM colleagues Big FM’s Himanshu Shekhar and Reliance ADAG’s M Suku.
Along with the host of the evening, Vikram Sakhuja, CEO, GroupM South Asia, other key GroupM India officials such as Hiren Pandit, CTG’s Prasanth Kumar, Maxus’ Ajit Varghese, MEC’s T Gangadhar, Motivator’s Rajul Kulshreshtha and CFO R Sridhar were there too.
GroupM had also invited Harsha Bhogle to add another ingredient of ‘passion’ into the evening. Bhogle and Steedman exchanged views on cricket before Steedman gave his farewell address.
Steedman has always been bullish on India, and the emotions remain the same now. In a conversation with exchange4media, Steedman said that “GroupM India was the pinnacle of the kind of work that GroupM wanted to do across its offices”.
Speaking on the economic scenario, Steedman said that even though there are challenging times ahead, India is still a bright map of expectations. “There are several multi-national clients who are looking at their investments and development in India because the country is, in a sense, sheltered from what is happening globally and it can support businesses of clients who are based in Europe or the US,” he said.
He added, “The operations in India are outstanding. What the team here has put together is not really seen in other countries because the India team is able to provide the business various distinct offerings, much better than anyone else in the world can. India is the second strongest market for us in the APAC region, right after China, in terms of revenues.” He reiterated the importance of the APAC market for most companies, in terms of investment and development for future growth of an organisation.
The one advice that Steedman has for his successors is to “motivate people”.
Of the 39 years of his work experience, 33 were with WPP, which included Steedman setting up and heading Mindshare in the APAC region before he went on to become the CEO and Chairman of GroupM APAC. Post his retirement, Steedman will locate in Sydney, and would be doing consulting work.