exchange4media and IMPACT magazine celebrated the achiever of the year 2014 at the IMPACT Person Of The Year awards last night in Mumbai. This year, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of IMPACT magazine, a special award was presented the ‘Person of the Decade’; in recognition of a media or advertising stalwart who has contributed to advertising, marketing and media the industry in a long lasting manner. This prestigious award was presented by Chief Guest, the Governor of Maharashtra, Chennamaneni Vidyasagar Rao to Uday Shankar, CEO of Star India.
In his acceptance speech, Shankar credited his and Star’s amazing success story to one thing - collaboration. “This is truly overwhelming. There is nothing more special than peer recognition. I consider myself a product of this industry and for the industry to recognize that I might have made an impact in the last decade fills me with both pride and gratitude,” he said.
Speaking about his journey, Shankar admitted that having started off as a journalist and ending now taking on reigns as a CEO, the transformation has left his critiques and friends surprised but as he says, “Let me confess today; no one has been more surprised than myself.”
“I was trained to be a print journalist who decided to take a plunge into television when TV was still an infant in in India,” he continued. “The summary of my journey in the past ten years is that I have been trusted to manage business strategies, businesses, industry bodies, companies, none of which should have fallen in the category of my natural strengths.”
He also made a special mention of Subhash Chandra, Chairman of Essel Group. “ I got my first break from Zee TV which was the nursery for all budding television professionals so to get this award in front of Subhash ji is special.”
Continuing with his emphasis on the importance of collaboration as a seed to success; Shankar credited his successful journey to effective collaboration. “This (collaboration) is one thing that I seem to have done better and better in the last 10 years. When I was first handed the reins, I did not know my way around outside the newsroom. In retrospect I think I learnt how to be an effective CEO and turn around an organization by just not working with all my colleagues, both young and old, but by letting them lead me in areas which were not my core expertise,” he said.
Shankar also spoke about the importance of content and how creating an effective content strategy by collaboration and fortitude was a key. Humbly, he also accepted that having been trained in content, he made it a point to learn from his colleagues and his team; acknowledging that there were certain aspects apart from content that they were more knowledgeable about it. “Content was where I was a teacher, everywhere else I was a learner,” he noted.
“The success was not just because of a talented team but one that collaborated with and complimented one another. When I needed direction I could take it from them. At Star we have been able to change the content landscape largely because we have been able to show a better ability to collaborate; to work with and attract an eclectic spectrum of talent; be it the likes of Karan Johar, Aamir Khan, Sanjay Leela Bhansali or Ashutosh Gowariker. Together we have all raised the standard of content at Star,” said Shankar.
Shankar has also been very active in industry issues and this has earned him the respect of his peers. He touched upon this aspect of his journey by pointing out that he learnt to work seamlessly with people who he had to compete with fiercely when it comes to our individual businesses. “We took four months to bring together all the major entertainment broadcasters but in that time we sowed the seeds of content self-regulation, which has become a hallmark of our industry today,” he said.
Speaking about the Indian broadcast industry, Shankar said, praising the progress made by our industry, “While the whole world insisted that only the government could govern us, we have proved that self-governance is a viable option. We have raised the bar even higher with BARC where the spirit of collaboration was extended to not only broadcasters but even agencies and advertisers.”
But what drives this inner feeling to collaborate that has seen Uday Shankar reach such heights? In his own words, “The willingness to collaborate has been built solidly on the conviction to do the right thing; the conviction of not doing regressive content or compromising the larger interest of community or the conviction to not be bogged down by the fear of failure. When I believed in something I never hesitated to reach out to people to join the cause. Along the way I have made some amazing friends and I am grateful to you for you have orchestrated whatever I have become.”