e4m Influencer award: CVL Srinivas credits Fali Vakeel and industry veterans for his climb to the top

CVL Srinivas, Country Head, WPP India and CEO (South Asia) of GroupM was recently honoured with the exchange4media Influencer of the Year Award

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Oct 30, 2017 8:42 AM

CVL Srinivas, Country Head, WPP India and CEO (South Asia) of GroupM was honoured with the exchange4media Influencer of the Year Award at the 17th exchange4media Conclave held in Mumbai on Friday. Rajya Sabha member and Chairman Zee and Essel Group Dr Subhash Chandra presented Srinivas with the award.

Accepting the award, Srinivas thanked his entire family at GroupM and WPP for all the hard work they put in. He also thanked his predecessors at GroupM - Andre Nair, Ashutosh Srivastava and Vikram Sakhuja who have all been instrumental in building GroupM over the years. “Because GroupM is what it is today for the solid foundation and the visionary leadership that we were fortunate to have with three of these stellar leaders. What we did over the last 4-5 years was just building on top of all that,” Srinivas said.

He recounted the unlikely accident of how his quest for Bangalore dosas landed him a summer internship in the media agency. It was 1991 and Srinivas a young student at XLRI decided to look for a summer internship in Bangalore because he was missing his dosas and idlis. Srini spent a day scouting for a summer project on Bangalore’s MG Road with 20 copies of his resume in his hand. He dropped into many offices but none of those he went to made him an offer. Finally, he walked into ad man Fali Vakeel’s office who took a look at Srinivas and his resume and said, “You will do well in media.” And that’s how Fali Vakeel gave the world of advertising CVL Srinivas. Srinivas thanked Vakeel for the role he played in shaping his career.

Srinivas noted that people who influenced his career taught him more than just media planning. “Ketaki Gupte, Ambika Srivastav, Helen Anchen, Sainath Nair, not only taught me the art and science of media planning, but more than that it was their amazing work ethic that inspired me.” Srinivas recognised the contribution that Suresh Shankar, Founder Crayon Data, and Srinivas’ first boss at Fulcrum, and Sam Balsara, Chairman and MD, Madison World, with whom Srinivas worked for around six years, made to his career and thanked them. He also thanked all his peers at all the media industry bodies and clients who have worked with him.

Finally he thanked his wife, Mona Kachhwaha, who he said gives him a reality check. “She says that our industry is too hyped. Every piece of business moving is breaking news, and everyone leaving from one agency and joining another is bigger breaking news. And she comes very coolly after signing a million dollar deal and it does not even get mentioned anywhere. That’s good for me, because that’s my reality check,” he said. He also went on to thank his mother who he said will find it difficult to believe that her son has won this award because to her Srinivas is still growing up.

Talking about the timing of the award, he noted that it is 10 years since the epic moment when he quit work for a year to do something new and different. Srinivas may be a media maven, but he says he may be best known in the industry for the year-long break he took from corporate life, which he spent learning the tabla along with four-year olds. “I had no plans. I just walked into a music school next door and began learning the tabla.” That one year of his life helped him rejuvenate himself and return to work with a newfound zeal. “If I look back, that one year of resetting my life has really helped,” he noted.

On Friday, a night a packed hall of dignitaries who have all been a part of his incredible journey in the world of advertising celebrated Srinivas’ achievements. The entire executive committee at GroupM was present in the audience along with a large team from GroupM who had all come out in support of Srinivas. Prasanth Kumar, CEO, Mindshare India; Kartik Sharma, CEO Wavemaker India; Anand Chakravarthy, MD, Essence India; T Gangadhar, Chairman, Essence India, and MD, Essence, North Asia and  Partho Dasgupta, CEO, Broadcast Audience Research Council India, and many others were all present while Srinivas received his award.

Industry leaders, including Rajan Anandan, MD, Google India; Uday Shankar, Chairman and CEO, Star India; Sanjiv Mehta, CEO and MD, Hindustan Unilever, sent their congratulatory wishes through recorded messages and unanimously agreed that Srinivas' win is very well-deserved.
Raj Nayak, COO Viacom18, and winner of the 2016 exchange4media Influencer of the Year award, read out and presented the citation for the Influencer of the Year award. Reading out the citation, Nayak noted that Srinivas and he share two things in common: they are both Bangalore boys and they both dote on their mothers. “When we meet we don’t discuss business or release orders, we discuss how are mothers are doing,” he said.

Beginning in 2016, the exchange4media group initiated the Influencer of the Year award. The award honours visionaries who have transformed the industry and inspired the next level of growth while progressively using innovative technology for business achievements.

Full Citation for CVL Srinivas, exchange4media Influencer of the Year, 2017:

The exchange4media Influencer of the year title is conferred upon CVL Srinivas for his remarkable leadership and vision that have charted a new course for GroupM's successful journey in India and South Asia. His contribution to the industry is as immense as to GroupM.

In a career spanning over two decades, Srini has to his credit many significant achievements. As recently as last week, he was named the Country Manager for WPP in India in addition to his role as CEO, GroupM South Asia.

Under Srini’s leadership, GroupM has continued to show a healthy growth. Despite the double-whammy of demonetisation and GST that slowed down the industry’s growth, Srini managed to steer GroupM out of the deep waters and stay comfortably on course.

With his futuristic vision, he consolidated GroupM’s position as India’s leading media agency. GroupM – the largest media buying and planning entity in India – has witnessed steady growth, according to the Paris-based Research Company Evaluating Media Agencies (RECMA).
Under his leadership, the company’s market-share has grown to almost 50%.

Srini has steered GroupM to a record number of new businesses, incubated several path-breaking initiatives and won numerous awards, making India one of the most successful GroupM operations globally. Srini has also championed a transformation programme at GroupM South Asia to make it a future-ready organisation.

Srini apart from being a very popular man in industry circles, also plays an important role in various industry bodies - such as the AAAI, BARC, RSCI, ABC and others - pushing the agenda for change and reforms.

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