The year 2007 has been the best year ever for JWT India, according to the agency’s CEO Colvyn Harris. Harris is of the opinion that change brings fresh impetus to the system, and the New Year has already begun with key changes in the roles of some of the members of agency’s senior management.
Mumbai head Tarun Rai has been moved to a corporate role, while Bangalore Head Dhunji Wadia takes over Mumbai. Rai has been heading the Mumbai office for the last six years, and has been moved to the corporate office as Managing Partner and National Business Development Head.
This is a new position in the company and the role and the responsibility is to “ensure future relevance”. In this role, Rai will work closely with Harris to help identify and incubate new business ideas that JWT can venture into, and hence, expand its offerings to its clients. Rai has been with the company for the past 17 years.
Taking his place is Dhunji Wadia, who was Managing Partner and SVP, JWT Bangalore. Wadia has been at the Bangalore office since 2002, and has been with the company for the last 15 years. Rajesh Gangwani, VP and GM, Bangalore has been promoted to SVP, Bangalore. Gangwani joined JWT in Mumbai in 1991, and has been in Bangalore since 2002.
Harris observed, “Dhunji has been in Mumbai earlier, and at that time he had worked on businesses like Unilevers, De Beers and Kellogg’s. At Bangalore, he has worked on some iconic brands like Levi’s, Nike and Kingfisher, and the Bangalore operations have grown immensely under him. The Mumbai office has grown significantly under Tarun. He is now going to support me in the new business role, which is about what new areas we need to enter into to help our clients meet their needs. This is more of a strategy role. Once something is identified, the mandate to take it forward would be given to the respective operating company.”
“I am very hopeful that Bangalore would continue to do well under Rajesh. He is a very hands-on professional, a deep brand thinker and meticulous in his approach,” added Harris. Wadia is excited about the new task ahead of him. He said, “Mumbai is where I’ve grown up learning my craft. It’s where I started off my career in advertising as a management trainee. And it feels great to come back here as the branch head of India’s number one advertising agency. The wheel surely has come full circle.”
Offering further clarity on Andre Nair’s (former GroupM India CEO) role at JWT, Harris explained, “Andre Nair has been with JWT for the last seven months as Chief Strategy Officer for JWT Asia. Part of his role is also RMG Connect. JWT is a matrix structure – wherever there is skill, we tap into that knowledge. Andre is a resource that we can tap into as and when we need to. He is still in the process of developing an overriding strategy across markets.”
Speaking further on 2007, Harris said, “It has been an absolute best year ever. If I look back, every operating company has surpassed any targets that we had set for ourselves – whether it was creative works, winning awards, or the kind of talent we hired. We had some big wins in the last year, including strong Indian brands like Bharati Retail, brands from Airtel, and globally admired brands like Nokia, Sony Viao, Sony Bravio and STAR, and we added a slew of senior talent.”
The year saw the entry and exit of Josy Paul as NCD within a span of six months. How was the experience for the agency? Harris replied, “You must look at JWT as an institution that is here for the long term. All our clients operate either as the number one or the number two player in their respective sectors. We need to be structured in a way that we can help our clients reach their leadership goals. Each of our offices is fully-staffed – in the creative function alone, across India, we have around 300 people. So, if someone chooses to leave, we have 299 others who are very good.”
Meanwhile, the next big question for the agency is on the changes that could be expected in the creative function. Certain sections of the media has speculated JWT’s NCD Agnello Dias’ exit from JWT to BBH. Harris, however, has rubbished these rumours. It doesn’t appear that JWT is in a hurry to look for Paul’s replacement. Since Paul’s exit, Dias has already doubled up to look after all the clients of JWT India. However, there is still time before the formal and final word on that is known.
Some of the senior hands that the agency added in the last quarter of 2007 include Adip Puri, who has come in as Global Planning Director on Radiant. Prior to this, he was with Saatchi & Saatchi; Sushobhan Mukherjee joined JWT Mumbai as Vice President and Strategic Planning Director. Prior to this, he was with Publicis Singapore. Some of the other senior appointments in the year were Hari Krishnan, Sanjay Tandon and Shavon Barua – all three joined JWT Delhi as VP and Client Services Director.