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Day 1 @ Madison, Vikram Sakhuja talks about digital growth, clients, leadership and more

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Day 1 @ Madison, Vikram Sakhuja talks about digital growth, clients, leadership and more

The news of GroupM’s Vikram Sakhuja joining Sam Balsara’s Madison Media Group (including OOH) as Equity Partner and Group CEO took the industry by storm in April this year.

In his new role, which he takes over today, Sakhuja will be responsible for the Media and OOH business of Madison World. He will work closely with Sam Balsara.

In a brief chat with exchange4media, Sakhuja a highly respected name in the media industry, talks about his expectations from Team Madison, his excitement on working with Sam Balsara, who he has known for over two decades now.

Sakhuja also answers the question on speculations over the possible movement of talent as well as clients from GroupM to Madison post his move, in his own inimitable way.


You have known Sam Balsara for over two decades now in your various roles as a client and a formidable competitor. What are the advantages of your partnership, despite the perceived difference in leadership styles?

Sam is a great dealmaker with an exceptional commercial acumen, and I have a decent strategic mind with a good record of growing business and organizations. Both of us believe in client-value and we both have more than a decent network in the media marketing ecosystem. I’m excited about teaming up with someone I’ve respected and admired for over two decades. I hope for starters to rub off some of his amazing energy and spirit on to me.

You have been a digital evangelist at GroupM and Maxus. What is your approach and strategy towards bolstering Madison’s digital offerings?

I have just joined today, so it would be presumptuous and premature to talk of a digital strategy now. Suffice to say for now, I believe in digital being a specialism that needs to integrate into the overall plan rather than work as a silo.

In a recent interview with exchange4media, Dominic Proctor (President, GroupM Global) said “Madison has a fine heritage and clearly needs to re-engineer for the future. I guess that's why they have taken him on” on your exit from GroupM and joining Madison as Equity Partner. What would you like to say about his observation on the need for Madison to re-engineer for the future?

All media agencies today are gearing for change in an environment of digital, data, and technology. This is potentially changing the way we target, work seamlessly across media, deal with a connected consumer and deliver outcomes. This re-engineering, if you want to call it that, is as applicable to Madison as it is too any other agency. I hope to play my role in being a catalyst of change.

What would you like to say about speculation on the possible movement of talent as well as clients from GroupM to Madison post you taking charge at Madison?

If you’re trying to flatter me into thinking that my old friends might want to follow me, you are succeeding. The truth is that talent are looking for growth in four areas: exciting work, personal and career growth, an organization and leaders they can look up to, and economic wellbeing. Good organizations that focus on these normally don’t worry about flight of talent.

Is building on ecommerce business also going to be an area of focus for you adding on the Snapdeal business?

Agencies learn from all their clients. ecommerce is clearly a sunshine industry with great momentum. One, we can learn much from – especially the always on, real time nature of business and the link between cause and effect. That said, traditional businesses bring a huge foundation of consumer marketing skills. So short answer is that all sectors require focus, including of course, ecommerce.

You recently said you might bring in to Madison the culture of setting ambitious targets and trying to achieve them, do you think the agency needs this more now with the recent loss of Mondelez (on account of a global pitch) and Airtel at earlier this year; both of which are significantly large accounts. What is your strategy towards Madison regaining lost ground and going on to new heights?

The context of that comment was the difference between MNCs and local companies. MNCs of which I have been part of are more target-driven than local companies. My philosophy on targets is really one about objective setting. My conviction is that if managers are clear about deliverables, they are also smart enough to achieve them. On Madison strategy, I am hardly likely to reveal it, especially on my first day of joining.

While we have covered extensively what is it that you would like to change and strengthen within Madison. What are your expectations from Team Madison?

To have a passion for making a difference to our clients’ brands, and to enjoy what they do.

Tags Sam Balsara Madison

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