“To lose one top manager is unfortunate, to lose two is careless, but actually it will be fine,” quipped Tim Issac, Chairman, Bates Asia.
As is known, Bates recently saw the exits of two top ranking people – Sonal Dabral, who was Regional Creative Head and Chairman-India of Bates, and Sandeep Pathak, who was Bates CEO.
When exchange4media caught up with Issac, who is currently on a visit to India, he remained optimistic. But at the same time he admitted when senior level exits took place, clients were worried. “But their worries disappear when the leadership is put in place, and we have got a lot of very senior people that can buy us the time to find the right person to place at the lead,” he maintained.
Revealing the succession plans, Issac said that the agency was actively in talks with national CEO candidates. “We are looking for a really well respected, high profile leader, a CEO figure for the specialists that we have. We need someone to galvanise the potential that we have and lead us. And yes, the person will come from outside Bates,” he added.
He further said that having one CEO would help clear up any ambiguity regarding the leadership at Bates in India. He was referring to the roles of Dabral, who was operating out of Singapore and Mumbai, and National Creative Director Sagar Mahableshwarkar, adding that there was some confusion in people’s minds regarding their roles.
Meanwhile, Issac dispelled the rumours regarding Bates merging with another WPP agency in India. Oglivy and Bates were two separate brands and that wouldn’t change, he affirmed. “As Bates becomes more comfortable as a brand, it will be able to collaborate more closely with a very big and fine agency like Ogilvy and not be threatened by that closeness,” he added.
Regarding the growth plans for 2012, Issac said that Bates was looking conservatively the same growth rate as in 2011 at this stage. He, however, added, “We are meeting on February 20 to revisit our ambition, and I would expect us to have targets which are above our ambitions.”
He further said, “I think by at the end of 2012 we will have a fair number of excellent ‘change engage’ cases for not only impressing prospective clients, but reassuring existing ones that there is something very fundamental here that we are talking about and also winning lots of awards.”