Ketaki Gupte, executive media director at Hindustan Thompson Associates (HTA), has put in her papers. A media veteran and founder of Fulcrum, HTA's media specialist arm, Gupte will join headhunting firm Korn/Ferry International.
Confirming her resignation, Gupte said: "I'm walking out of media and advertising as a whole. On July 1, I am joining the world's largest executive search firm, Korn/Ferry International, as principal, head of Consumer Practices, in Mumbai itself."
Her resignation from the agency she served for over 20 years is raising many eyebrows in the industry.
But sources at HTA and elsewhere say that Gupte was unhappy with the fact that when WPP decided to launch its international media buying brand, Mindshare, in India, it decided to bring in an expatriate to head it. Gupte had been expecting to take charge of the new outfit.
Mindshare is the media planning, buying and research company set up by WPP (the parent company of J. Walter Thompson which owns HTA) to handle the media business of both HTA and Ogilvy & Mather. In India, Mindshare is likely to handle business worth Rs 1,500 crore for both HTA and O&M clients.
It has already been divided into Mindshare I and Mindshare II (called Maximise) to handle conflicting HTA and O&M accounts. O&M's media expert, Kalpana Rao, is supposed to take over one of the divisions. Gupte won the Unilever AOR for HTA in 1995.
Responsible for media strategies in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal, Gupte directly managed 200 professionals across five HTA offices.