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India has gone from nearly nowhere to becoming a key member in Asia: Mainardo de Nardis

07-May-2009
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India has gone from nearly nowhere to becoming a key member in Asia: Mainardo de Nardis

It has not been even five months since Omnicom’s media arm OMD has moved to a new home in New York, and it is just over two months since the agency has come under the charge of a new global leader in Mainardo de Nardis, who joined the organisation as its CEO in March 2009. The office doesn’t look very lived-in yet, but that was no reflection of the kind of work going on at the agency’s New York headquarters.

exchange4media caught up with de Nardis, when he is still fresh from the meeting of OMD’s top brass from China, India and Australia in Singapore, that took place last week, to speak on his experience at the agency so far, and his take off from the conference, where he met some of the OMD team members, including India, for the first time.

Asia has an incredibly ‘can-do’ approach

For de Nardis, the conference was important on two counts. The first was an emotional count, where “even in crisis it is important to get people together and share the good things and the bad things”. The most important aspect for him here was the team that OMD is. He said, “I was very impressed with the team that they are. They work together, they share together and they respect each other. They understand that every market can give something and can learn something, and perhaps the biggest strength of the agency is in the fact that this is a great team. This was my first learning.”

Maggie Choi, MD, Asia Pacific, OMD, and Barry Cupples, CEO, OMG Asia Pacific, are two team leaders that de Nardis spoke of, who, he believes, have played an important role in building the team of this region. Speaking more on Asia, he said, “The style of OMD in Asia is incredibly ‘can-do’. They follow the best of international standards and practices with a strong local culture. That is a significant mix to have today. It is not good to be too consistent as a Network – it can feel like a hospital, which is neither rooted in reality nor has a personality.”

The second count was to discuss various areas of work. de Nardis explained, “There were discussions, ideas and suggestions coming on each of the areas that were put on the table – right from product development, new business, PR and marketing, regional trading to IT, HR and finance.”

However, at a personal level, the best take-off for Mainardo was meeting each of these team members in person. He said, “You can connect with people on phones, e-mails, instant messaging, Facebook and Twitter and what not, but these are all just good substitutes to a good face-to-face meeting. No one treats you in a normal way until they have met you.”

India has made its place & gained its stripes in the battlefield

It’s over two years since OMD has been operational in India. de Nardis observed, “India has gone from nearly nowhere to having become a key member of the community in Asia, and a key member with strong opinions like most Indian operations, in fact, which is good and reassuring.”

He added, “Everyone is really impressed with the businesses that India has won. The wins obviously are a result of the work that is done. But what has also been appreciated is the talent that is attracted and the quality of the team that Jasmin (Sohrabji, MD, OMD India) has created in this short period of time. From J&J win onwards, all wins have been on the quality of the work. Very few clients have been given to India – there may have been international pitches, but India has to be a part of the pitch to win that business; you do not get any businesses automatically.”

Any new announcement coming from India? Mainardo said, “Not that I can think of apart from the next big win.” And what would that be” de Nardis replied simply, “You will know when we announce it. There has to be a big win because Jasmin will win a big client every three months – there is just no discussion on that. She will do it because she wants to do it.”

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