Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Founder and CEO of Paytm, has won the IMPACT Person of the Year, 2016 Award, instituted by the exchange4media Group to recognize excellence in the Advertising, Media and Marketing domain. Sharma was given the award for revolutionizing the digital ecosystem and financial technology, driving them to altogether new heights of excellence with his innovations and building Paytm into a global brand.
Actor Anil Kapoor, the Chief Guest at the glittering award ceremony, presented the trophy to Sharma.
“I am a total outsider because I am not a media or an advertising person but I am truly humbled to be in the company of such incredible people,” said Sharma, on being awarded the honour. “This is India’s hour; this is what India has been waiting for ages,” he further added.
Refuting the age old beliefs that an engineering graduate needs to look at his future outside the boundaries of India, Sharma said that his dream has always been to stay in India and create something that the country would be proud of.
“I had a dream that the country would get its due if it would no longer build IT services for the international market and we would no more be the back office,” he further added. His dream he said was to see the country building technology products that were first and foremost for Indians.
Calling Paytm just a starting point, he said that this was just the beginning. “We are just starting off on the path to building the country that our forefathers had dreamed about,” he said, further adding, “This is the time when the question that why we do not build the next Google or Microsoft, gets answered because this is when Indian companies start building for Indian consumers.”
He also acknowledged that this was the right time for Indian companies to not only build great products but to also create a brand that could be taken to foreign markets and thus create an ‘Indian’ presence in other markets.
Speaking about the government’s decision to demonetize high value currency notes, Sharma said that it would be remembered as a landmark date in Indian history. However, he also admitted that he could not predict the outcome though he did express empathy with hardships being faced by Indian citizens.
“One thing I know for sure is that whenever someone has challenged the status quo, everybody around has first faced the pain but then you also gain from this. This is a pain that our children will remember because this is the first time that India, rather than being the first world, has become the ‘first world’ in digital,” he said.
Talking about the past, he pointed out that India has been one of the countries that has never build technology (software) in a native language, as compared to China, Japan, etc. However, according to him, companies would now come to India and start building the required software in native languages as Indians will be the customers of these new products.
Sharma also spoke about the topic of financial inclusion by pointing out that the vast majority of the Indian public still has trouble getting loans. Giving his own example, he said that he had to take a loan at 24 per cent rate of interest; to pay off which he had to sell of 40 per cent of his company stakes.
“At Paytm, we have a resolve that we will bring half a billion of Indians into the mainstream of the economy. This is not only our vow but our gameplan. I promise you one thing, when you take such large resolves, these three will be our guiding principles; No Fear, No Greed and No Entitlement,” he said.
The other nominees for the award this year were Amitabh Kant, CEO, Niti Aayog, Govt. of India; Baba Ramdev & Acharya Balkrishna of Patanjali; Bhavish Aggarwal, Founder & CEO of Ola Cabs; Shashi Sinha, CEO of IPG Mediabrands & CVL Srinivas, CEO of GroupM, South Asia (joint nomination).
Past winners of the IPOY award include Arnab Goswami, then President-News & Editor-in-Chief, Times Now and ET Now (2015), Punit Goenka, Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer of Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited (2014), Vineet Jain, Managing Director of Bennett, Coleman & Co Ltd (2013), Ambika Soni, former Minister for Information & Broadcasting (2012), Agnello Dias, Founder, Taproot India and Haresh Chawla, then Group CEO, Network18 and Viacom18 (2011); Uday Shankar, CEO, Star India (2010); Rajesh Kamat, then CEO of Colors (2009); Raghav Bahl, Founder, Network18 and Rajdeep Sardesai, Editor-in-Chief, CNN-IBN (2006).
IMPACT Person of the Year, 2016 had Colors as the presenting partner, and was powered by Sony Liv. The associate partners were 9X, SAB Group and Sakal Media Group, while the co-partners were Firstpost, DNA and Godrej Properties.