The media service brands domain in India saw a high-profile movement on September 29, 2010, when Ravi Kiran, CEO, Starcom MediaVest Group (SMG), announced his decision to move on from the agency. While speculation on his movement has been doing the industry rounds for almost two months now, the company issued an official statement confirming the development, yesterday.
Kiran serves his notice with the Group till end of the year, which, as he put it, gave everyone involved a “comfortable transition period”.
Needless to say, SMG has begun an aggressive CEO - South Asia hunt. Andrew Swinand, President, Global Operations, Starcom MediaVest Group, has been busy meeting people in Mumbai and Delhi on September 29 and September 30, 2010 to identify a replacement. It is understood that Sandeep Lakhina, COO, Starcom Worldwide, is also a strong contender in the consideration set.
On the other hand, Kiran will now begin the search for his destination next. In a conversation with exchange4media, he observed, “Whether it was right or wrong thing to have done, I just couldn’t think of what I would be doing next, while staying focussed on the SMG agenda. Nothing has come to my mind yet. I have, in fact, not even started any conversations with anyone in any industry, no venture capitalists, no private equity, no head hunters, nothing. All I have right now are random thoughts, but they are so random that they may not make any money. From now to end-December, I will think about all this.”
Does he intend to continue with the advertising and media industry? “Let me put it this way,” replied Kiran, “For 20 years, I have done only this, and this is the only thing I know. Now I have to balance my risk and returns if I think of opting for something different or stay focussed on what I know best. But all options are open right now.”
For Kiran, now was the right time to make the move. Elaborating on why he had thought so, he said, “Things are going well right now – we have build a good team in the agency now. Despite the tough year that the media service brands saw, business at Starcom has been strong and stable, and this is a matter of great pride for all of us. It is a testimony to the strength of the company. Now is the time to hand over the baton to somebody else.”
Adding further to that point, he remarked, “Even if it may sound philosophical, when the going is good, and you hand over the baton to somebody else, it would start a new phase for the company, which may not be necessarily true if it was any different.”
SMG has grown manifold under the Ravi Kiran’s charge, and today boasts of being one of the most diversified media service brands in India, a model that SMG has even taken to other markets. The year 2010, and some of 2009 as well, didn’t see the agency add on any big business, but as SMG officials have explained on occasions in the past, 2010 was a stable year for the company with the agency recording significant organic growth.