35 years on, a woman takes over AAAI as the industry applauds

Adland reflects on Anupriya Acharya's ascent as the first woman president of the AAAI in 35 years after Nargis Wadia took on the mantle in 1976-77 and Tara Sinha in 1984-85

e4m by Naziya Alvi Rahman & Misbaah Mansuri
Updated: Sep 23, 2020 9:06 AM  | 4 min read
Anupriya Acharya

In 2019, advertising veteran and CEO of Publicis Groupe, South Asia, Anupriya Acharya became the first Indian woman in charge of a multinational holding company’s regional group structure.

Come 2020, and she earned another title. On Monday she became the first woman president of the Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) in last 35 years. As per AAAI records, Nargis Wadia in 1976-77 was the first-ever woman to be elected as AAAI president followed by Tara Sinha in 1984-85.  

While a lot changed in the industry in 35 years, a woman not leading the industry’s ace body for over three decades demands a much-needed discussion on diversity.

Ashish Bhasin, the outgoing president of the AAAI and CEO APAC and Chairman India, Dentsu Aegis Network, has been voicing it all throughout. “Anupriya is a very worthy successor. I have worked closely with her during her tenure as vice president. She is an experienced professional who is very well versed with all the matters of the body.”

Talking about diversity, Bhasin added how Acharya taking over as President will make advertising body more inclusive and diverse. “It is not an old men’s club anymore,” Bhasin told exchange4media.

The voice from the creative side was no different. K V Sridhar (Pops), Global chief creative officer Nihilent & Hypercollective exclaimed, “This was much-needed! Anupriya, Tista Sen, Nandini Dias, Swati Bhattacharya, Kainaz and many more women leaders are doing well and better than men. Finally, the advertising industry has broken the glass ceiling."

Talking of Acharya, Shashi Sinha, CEO, IPG Mediabrands, said that he is confident she will excel in this role much like she did in every other job assigned to her. “I am very fond of her. She is a thorough professional who understands the industry and its issues. I am confident she will do well. I wish her good luck,” he added.

 Industry Veteran Sandeep Goyal called her the “the first lady president in modern times’. “ In over three decades that I have been in the industry, I have seen the first woman president and I feel very proud of her. I wish Anupriya all the best,” Goyal said.

Brand Strategist and Founder Brand-Building.com, Ambi Parameswaran believes Acharya richly deserves to be the President. "She has been on the executive committee for some years and knows the issues, challenges and opportunities that AAAI has, going forward. AAAI is getting a Lady as the President after almost 35 years. I am sure under her leadership we will see the executive committee become more diverse and more representative of the industry, which is, in fact, very diverse and multi-hued. I am also hopeful under her leadership new initiatives will be brought forth to involve the young professionals in shaping the future of the industry. Many steps have been taken in the recent past to make the AAAI more inclusive of all the various service providers. I am sure Anupriya will be able to drive the agenda forward with her own touch and vision. All the best to AAAI and Anupriya."

 Earlier speaking on the occasion, Acharya, said “It’s a tremendous honour and also an enormous responsibility to be elected as the President of such a prestigious organisation. I am acutely aware that our industry, like the rest of the world, has just witnessed the most unprecedented times and it’s a difficult time for most. The pandemic has only underscored the relevance of collective thinking and the heightened role that AAAI can play. I will strive to do my best to further the interests of the advertising industry and take AAAI to greater heights as we emerge into the new normal. Many top advertising professionals have contributed very selflessly and relentlessly to the AAAI, both with and without executive positions. And that is what inspires me immensely as I take on this position. Many thanks to Ashish Bhasin for his leadership in the last two years as President – he has made great progress in making the association more inclusive, diverse and future-ready. Also, thanks to all the Executive committee members and the secretariat for all the learning they have given me in the past many years”.

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