After winning the sixth IMPACT Person of the Year, Uday Shankar, CEO, STAR India, reiterated the fact that he is a quintessential performer of the Indian media industry, and one of the few examples of meteoric success in the industry in last 15 years. In a dialogue with exchange4media after winning this prestigious industry award, Shankar shared more on his journey from being a ‘Jholawala Patrakar’ to a Chief Executive Officer. The event was presented by Jagran.
During his college days, Shankar has been instrumental in student activism. On a tryst with this profession, he remarked, “I belong to a generation where it was believed that if you are not communist in your twenties, you are wasting your life. And in your thirties, if you have not moved on from there, you have wasted your life.”
When asked that did sensitivity and sensibility towards society, reflect in programming at STAR India? He replied, “I do think so. But I believe that no matter what position you are at, you don’t have prerogative to reflect your personal position on the content because your responsibility is much larger.” He added that whenever there was an opportunity to make a personal intervention, he stood for fair, equal and progressive thought for society.
From being just a reporter to the head of STAR India, Shankar worked with many organisations. He believed that like other journalists, he too was good at learning from others. “I observed others, picked up things and usually don’t give them credit but just imbibe it. I have learned from everyone including my bosses and younger colleagues,” Shankar commented.
While working with The Times of India, Shankar had worked with the then Resident Editor, Sumanto Sen. “I learned the value of hard work and ethics in media from my first editor Mr. Sen. When I was working with environment magazine, Down to Earth, I learned ability to break down a problem into tiny components from Anil Agarwal and from Aroon Purie I learned the power of details. The list in this manner, goes on,” added Shankar.
Shankar is a role-model for many aspiring journalists. However, he advised budding journalists to not to have role-models, as they are “mostly misleading”. When asked to review his dealing with the Murdoch’s, he said it’s been “delightful”. He observed, “Both, Rupert and James believe in building true foundation where leadership can be long-term and sustainable. When there was pressure last year, they accepted that pressure was not exceptional for us. They advised don’t be short termed, fix content and rest would follow. That’s what we did.”
The glittering evening saw presence from leading Indian media and advertising houses. The audience was filled with nominees for the award such as Vikram Sakhuja, GroupM and Sam Balsara, Madison World. Some of the other guests were Tariq Ansari, Mid Day; Jasmin Sohrabji and Harish Shriyan from OMD India; Lintas Media Group’s N P Sathyamurthy and Sudha Natrajan; Ravi Kiran and Sandeep Lakhina from Starcom MediaVest Group; Bobby Pawar and gang from Mudra, Partha Sengupta from BBH India; N P Singh and Rohit Gupta from Multi Screen Media amongst many others.