Industry heads to watch out for in 2020

We step into 2020 with a long list of bigwigs donning new hats across the industry

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Dec 30, 2019 8:07 AM


Industry Heads

If 2019 has been an action packed year for the media, advertising and marketing industry, 2020 is all set to get bigger. With an array of top-level movements this year, the year ahead sure has a long list of people to watch out for.

We have picked some names who are expected to lead major developments in the upcoming year.  The list is not in any particular order.

Uday Shankar

Post Sanjay Gupta’s departure from Star, Uday Shankar, Chairman of Star and Disney in India, took up the task of directly overseeing digital streaming giant Hotstar. The Hotstar leadership will now be reporting to Shankar on all fronts. Even though Hotstar remains securely in the top spot in India, Shankar will definitely have a trick or two up his sleeve to keep competition at bay. In 2020, therefore, it will be interesting to see what Shankar rolls out to stay at the top of the game. 

Sanjay Gupta

The year 2020 is set to begin with a bang with Google India’s new Country Head Sanjay Gupta who comes armed with digital expertise and leadership qualities that the tech giant can immensely benefit from. Google waited 8 months to appoint its next India Head and hence all eyes will be on Gupta to see what he brings to the table. India is one the most important markets for Google and the competition from rival Facebook is intense. Not only does the company face constant government scrutiny, the tech giant also has to battle public perceptions over data privacy issues. Gupta surely has enough on his plate for 2020 and hence is the natural pick to top the list of people to look out for in the digital domain.

Prasanth Kumar

Prasanth Kumar took over as GroupM CEO in May 2019. He will certainly be a face to watch out for. As COO, Kumar was responsible for ensuring client expectations were met by continuously improving processes.

Ashish Bhasin

Another big development this year was when ad veteran Ashish Bhasin, the India Chairman of ad and media agency group Dentsu Aegis Network (Dentsu) was elevated to the position of Asia-Pacific (APAC) Chief Executive Officer (CEO). He is another adman who has put India on the global map. The elevation came within seven months of Bhasin being appointed as CEO of the Greater South Asian region at the agency. Bhasin is the first Indian within the Dentsu network to be elevated to the position of APAC CEO. Thus, the ad industry is now curious to know more about Bhasin’s role and contributions in 2020.

Sam Singh

Former Group M CEO Sameer Singh joined Byte Dance, the parent company of social media app Tik Tok as Vice-President, Monetization in May. The way Tik Tok is growing in India it will be interesting to see how Singh monetizes the app in the country. 

Sudhanshu Vats

Sudhanshu Vats, Group CEO & MD, Viacom18, is known for his new ideas. Vats had said in the next three to five years the network wantsto build a robust Rs 10,000 crore company, which would have a healthy double digit CAGR while continuing to remain profitable. 2020 could be the stepping stone to the brighter days ahead.

Ajit Mohan

Cut to Facebook. Ajit Mohan, Facebook India’s Managing Director and Vice President is no stranger to fire fighting, given the intense scrutiny social media companies face whether it is on policy, regulation or data privacy concerns. While the organisation has publicly made it known, on several occasions, that it would always co-operate with the government in matters of the country’s interest, it is still a tightrope to walk. The Whatsapp Pegasus spyware hack hogged headlines in 2019 and the company has since assured that it has been working hard to ensure such vulnerabilities are fixed, restoring public faith is perhaps the tougher task. Therefore, Mohan’s moves to strike the right balance will be something to look out for in 2020.

K Madhavan

K Madhavan who has just been elevated at Star India will be a name to watch out for. It will be interesting to see how Madhavan takes over the reigns of the brand as its Country Manager from Sanjay Gupta. With consolidation being the new buzzword in the industry, it will be worth seeing how Madhavan spins the major transition in his role.

Sunil Lulla

In one of the major people movements in the broadcast industry, Sunil Lulla replaced Partho Dasgupta as CEO of BARC India. It will now be interesting to see how Lulla takes the measurement body ahead and what initiatives he takes to ensure fair play in the industry. With everybody waiting for a digital measurement system to be in place, the industry now hopes Lulla might have some news on that front as well. 

NP Singh

NP Singh, CEO & MD, Sony Pictures Networks, was reelected as Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF) President during the year. Singh had said he’s confident that the industry will get its due recognition. 2020 could be a turning point in the industry under Singh’s leadership at IBF.

Punit Goenka

In November, Punit Goenka was reappointed MD and CEO of ZEEL for the next five years. This was followed by ZEEL launching four channels in the regional space thus clearly indicating that the network is aggressively expanding and developing new markets. Goenka has also said that the focus will now be on bringing back ZEE to the top. It will be interesting to see what plans he has for ZEEL in the upcoming year. 

CVL Srinivas

CVL Srinivas, Country Manager, WPP, in 2019 spoke extensively on integration and partnerships that drive strategic value for WPP clients. 2020 is expected to be better and bigger for WPP.

Kalli Purie

Kalli Purie, Vice-Chairperson of India Today Group, was conferred upon the ‘India’s Most Powerful Women in Media’ award at the famed Confluence Excellence awards at the British Parliament on September 27. Under Purie’s leadership the brand has grown four folds and with innovations like ‘Instagram Lives’ the brand is expected to take quality journalism a notch higher.

Barun Das
Barun Das, Chief Executive Officer, TV9, has joined the TV network as Chief Executive Officer. When Das took up the new role he mentioned expansion in the national arena. 2020 is expected to see TV9 only growing in the scheme of things.

Avinash Pandey

With focus on languages, Avinash Pandey, CEO, ABP News Network, is taking the network to newer heights in terms of revenues and viewerships. 2020 can only be expected to be even better for the brand that has been climbing viewership rating charts.

Anupriya Acharya

One of the biggest developments in the ad industry this year was Anupriya Acharya, CEO of Publicis Media, becoming the first Indian woman to take charge of a multinational holding company’s regional group structure with her newly minted role of Chief Executive Officer, South Asia, for the Paris-headquartered Publicis Groupe. The industry now waits for her to complete a year with the brand and see what changes she brings about.

Megha Tata

Megha Tata took over as the new MD of Discovery Communications India in April 2019. Soon after, we saw several developments in the network - from launching new shows to bringing new content and who can forget the appearance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Man vs Wild with Bear Gyrlls. Let’s see what else she has in store for Discovery Communications India in the year ahead.

Sonal Dabral

Over his 30-year career, Sonal Dabral, Chief Creative Officer, South & SE Asia & Vice Chairman, India, Ogilvy, has led agencies to the top position in three different markets across Asia. The 2020 Jury Presidents for Cannes Lions were recently announced and Dabral has been selected to lead the Direct Lions Jury. At Ogilvy Mumbai, he helped drive it to become India's No. 1 creative agency. He has also led Ogilvy Singapore to the top position in Asia, and the third most awarded office in the world at Cannes Lions 2007, a first for an Asian agency. It will be interesting to see what magic Dabral creates at Ogilvy.

Vikas Agnihotri 

Shortly after the announcement of Sanjay Gupta as the new Country Head for Google India, Interim Head Vikas Agnihotri ended his 8-year stint at the organisation. His next move is still under wraps and word has it that given his stature and experience with Digital India he has no shortage of options. It will be interesting to see what Agnihotri is set to choose as his next career move.

Nirvik Singh, Global COO, Grey Group
WPP-owned global advertising and marketing agency Grey Group this year elevated Nirvik Singh, Chairman and CEO of Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa, to the newly created global role of Chief Operating Officer. Singh has played an instrumental role in forging the Grey network's comprehensive offering across the regions. His trademark business acquisitions have strengthened Grey's presence earning him widespread recognition as the key accelerator of strategic growth in multiple countries, including India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, South Korea, Philippines, Thailand and Nigeria. Singh will be one of the most talked about people in the Grey hierarchy in 2020.

Gayatri Yadav

Gayatri Yadav quit as Star India’s President of Consumer Strategy and Innovation this year and it was reported that she has plans to go the entrepreneurial way. The fraternity is still waiting to see what will be Yadav’s brainchild.

Nikhil Gandhi

ByteDance-owned TikTok appointed Nikhil Gandhi as its India Head towards the end of 2019. Why is Gandhi a man to watch out for in 2020? Well simply because all eyes are on TikTok that has been giving other social media platforms sleepless nights with its rising popularity. What new marketing strategies will Gandhi deploy to ensure that TikTok continues its surge in popularity, is definitely of interest to industry watchers. Also, given its recent brushes with law, Gandhi also has to ensure that 2020 remains controversy free.

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