Today Shashi Sinha completes exactly one year as CEO of IPG Mediabrands in India. From ensuring that the right people are put in the right place and creating a core team that he now refers to as the Mediabrands board, Sinha has been a consistent builder and silent implementer.
He has not been seen talking about the agency in the past one year as he was busy strengthening the structure in his characteristic manner, multi- tasking to the core in what could be mildly put as an eventful year, wearing multiple caps of handling the Presidentship of Goafest, CEO of Lodestar UM (till a few weeks ago) and taking on the exciting new role of Chairman of the TechComm for BARC.
In an exclusive interview with exchange4media, Sinha talks about the past year, his journey as CEO, approach to taking on this mantle, his next challenge BARC, take on the Publicis –Omnicom merger, the growing magic of digital and more...
Turning point in the journey as CEO of IPG Mediabrands India…
In the first 90 days, you can sense whether you are getting it right or not. This is why the Sony pitch was so crucial. We gave it all we had and retained the Sony business. Not only did we retain the electronic business, they also give us the mobile business, which turned out to be a windfall, seeing how aggressive Sony has become in the mobile space. This, to my mind, was the turning point as Initiative strengthened as a result. It was not only about the business, but winning the pitch was symbolic, giving the team a boost.
On his core team…
Initially, it was all about getting the right people at the right places and succession planning. I built a team of our core people Nandini Dias (now CEO of Lodestar UM operating from Mumbai), Anamika Mehta (now CEO of Initiative, operating from Delhi), Suresh Balakrishna (BPN CEO) and Amar Deep Singh (now CEO of MAP, which consists of Reprise and Interactive Avenues). I am a big believer in cultivating existing talent that has been with the company long as they are people who are anchored and trust the company and culture.
We may not be the best people in the market, we may not be the brightest, but we know each other really well. We know how the other will react to a given situation. This is a complete advantage. There is complete trust within the team and we are lucky to have this team.
On the growing magic of digital…
Today digital spends are approximately 5 to 10 per cent of AdEx. Interactive Avenues and Reprise today are contributing to no less than 30 per cent of our entire revenue for 2013 –this says more than words.
On the Publicis – Omnicom merger and how it changes Indian dynamics…
From a long-term perspective, it worries me. However, I truly believe that in our country, the ability to implement and make things happen is integral. One is the talk, while second is who does it – It is the ability to make things happen on the ground. I say to my teams, “You have a head-start if you make things happen on the ground.” There is no dearth of knowledge, there is dearth of execution.
We face the challenge of quality of talent. I have a great stable senior team and great team leaders. The quality of talent in our business is a challenge faced by the entire industry and we need to do something dramatic to sort it out.
We have a very good entry level recruitment pattern; we are one of the biggest recruiters from campuses. Getting good talent from zero to five years is not a challenge; it is retaining the quality of talent from five to 10 years. This worries me. I cannot wait for the industry to do something about it; I have to find a solution.
On playing the crucial role of Chairman of the TechComm for BARC…
I wasn’t completely sure when they asked me to become the Chairman of the TechComm for BARC, but when I get into something then there is no looking back. I believe a revolution is going to happen in this country with BARC. It has really picked up momentum. My new challenge and passion at this point is BARC.
On his strengths…
I am not good at detailing but good at multi-tasking. I can keep five balls in the air at the same time.
Everyone wants to run it clean. I am glad of what happened as it has brought about transparency; everything is now in the open.
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