“I think the average age of employees at Havas is 27, it is a digital native company,” says Yannick Bolloré, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Havas Group, in a matter of fact manner exuberating quiet confidence, while we quiz him on the group’s digital focus and growth plans.
“Everybody is digital. Out of 20,000 people today, 10,000 of the people were not here two years ago. All these 10,000 people that have joined us are all 100 per cent digital, they all understand digital. We don’t have a digital specialist; everybody is a digital specialist. We have to first understand that we have technology specialists but we do not have digital specialists. I have 20,000 people in Havas, if anyone tells me that he doesn’t know digital and he doesn’t do digital for clients then he will not stay at Havas. Everybody is digital because digital is a part of real life, it’s not something different,” elaborates Bolloré.
About 40 per cent of the group’s business growth globally is coming from pure play digital today.
Bolloré at 36 is the youngest global CEO among the holding agencies in the media domain and views this as an obvious advantage.
“I believe that the youth is making a difference. One of our objectives is to predict the future and make sure that the clients and the brands get the best piece of advice and the best piece of content; I think it is a big advantage to be a young CEO in this world because one can understand the new trends of the world,” he adds.
We can’t help but ask him: When you are hiring, are you looking for younger talent?
“It is not about the age, it’s about the attitude. When I ask someone- are you on Snapchat, and he says no but his kids are, I would never hire him. But if a guy is 80 years old and he is on Snapchat we will hire him.” Says Bolloré
Interestingly the group has hired three CEOs- 19 years old, 21 years old and 22 years old for its agency in Chicago, the trio are running a team of 200 people, a first for any agency globally.
Edited Excerpts from a freewheeling chat with Yannick Bolloré (at Cannes) on growth plans for India, hiring the right talent, his confidence on India and more………..
How much does India contribute to APAC now? How would you like to increase the contribution?
It’s a growing figure. I really believe that India will become the biggest market of advertising in the next 20 years. I am saying 20 years because I want to make sure we understand that we are working for the long term, I am not really interested in the short term. We have the opportunity to belong to a family group, and there is a reasonable pressure on the next battalion.
What is your vision for 2020?
Since I took over, we have been growing very fast and we are no.1 in the world. For us it is important to continue to do so because it demonstrates that our strategy is right. So, for me the results are very good.
Could you share your business targets?
For this year, our goal is to grow faster than others. Our goal is to grow by more than 3 per cent.
What are your specific plans for the Indian market?
See, I am not in a hurry. My goal is to find the right people to make sure we can hire superstars and I am sure the business will evolve. I mean it’s not something that we have to do in the coming months, I am very happy with the team, we have a strong talented team with strong creative directors, they are doing a good job. I am very happy with the work that they are doing. I think we have to support the teams, so we continue to push the teams and make sure that they have every resource, every tool to do a better job for their clients. I believe that India has the opportunity to develop a lot in the coming years, we are super confident.
What are the type of acquisitions you are looking at for India ?
We are looking at acquisitions to accomplish two things; the first one is to get good talent. So, if we find a company where we like the people, we will acquire the company. And the second aspect of acquisitions would be to have new specialities, new skills so for instance in the sector; maybe we are looking at acquisition right now to see if we can have specialists helping us in the mobile sector which is new and needs some new skills too.
What is the next big challenge for you?
We are working well and going in the right direction, we need to keep this momentum going.
What gives Havas the edge globally today over other networks?
People, people and people. We have the best people and it’s like cricket, you need to have the best players. It’s not only the best players, it’s the team because in cricket you can have the best players, but if they don’t work best as a team, they are not working.