GroupM’s decision to appoint Vikram Sakhuja, who is at present the Chief Executive of its South Asia operations, as the Global Chief Executive for its media agency Maxus is an unprecedented move by any agency – media or creative. It is particularly a landmark decision from an India point of view, because Sakhuja will continue to be based in India to execute his new assignment as Maxus CEO, making India the global headquarters for the agency that has been on a growth trajectory for the last few years. Sakhuja replaces Kelly Clark who is based in GroupM’s New York office.
According to Dominic Proctor, President – Global, GroupM, the decision is a reflection of how the senior talent pool has grown in India and overall in Asia. In a conversation with exchange4media, Proctor said, “Vikram was simply the best candidate for the job and the fact that he is based in India is a bonus. I guess this is a pointer to the future as the economy shifts South and East. It reflects the new world order.”
Proctor agreed that at present the development is not only an exception but also is unique to the agency world. However, he expects more senior global managers to emerge from the Indian business. It may be recalled that very recently Mindshare had named Singapore-based Ashutosh Srivastava as the Global Head for its Emerging Markets.
While the decision to base a Global CEO in India did come as a surprise to many, what was not surprising was that the executive chosen for the job was Vikram Sakhuja, given Sakhuja’s experience in the last decade in various roles at GroupM and prior to that in The Coca-Cola Company India and STAR India. GroupM India has grown multiple-fold in not just its market share but has also established itself as an aggressive, future-ready thought leader that was amongst the first to incubate and develop various new disciplines under Sakhuja’s charge.
“Vikram has a very well rounded CV having worked on the client side, in media and for the last 10 years in our agencies. He is an internationalist and takes a broad intelligent perspective on the issues facing our business and our clients. He is a popular leader and I have no doubt that he will be able to meld a really strong management team,” added Proctor on what finally clinched the role for Sakhuja.
Maxus has been on a strong growth path globally and in markets such as India. Proctor divulged that a key part of Sakhuja’s new mandate would be to continue this growth. He said, “Growth is the only sign of life in our business so his mandate is to grow the Maxus product, the Maxus people and the Maxus business. If he succeeds, then our clients will succeed too.”
Sakhuja will don the new charge as soon as GroupM announces his replacement for the role of South Asia CEO. Without divulging much, Proctor informed that the company is exploring various options for Sakhuja’s succession, which is expected to be announced later this year.