How Rajiv Verma successfully expanded HT Media for 14 years

The ex CEO of HT Media successfully transitioned the media conglomerates' business portfolio

by Naziya Alvi Rahman
Published - May 4, 2018 3:44 PM Updated: May 4, 2018 3:44 PM

After working for 14 years, Rajiv Verma resigned from HT Media as its chief executive officer (CEO). The news came as a shock to many as he was instrumental in the creation of national brands, promotion of new businesses, establish international collaborations and increase the print capacity of HT Media.

Industry sources who have worked closely with Verma credit him for expanding the HT media business by venturing into new areas. "HT's business newspaper Mint was launched under him, he took HT into radio business by launching Fever and Radio Nasha. He also expanded the business in education sector by starting tutorial classes and online courses. So in his long tenure he has definitely contributed a lot to the business," said a senior person.

HT Media’s management team has always been a rich mix of veterans from media and top leaders from non-media sectors, from both India and abroad. This reflected the company’s desire to be the best by leveraging diverse strengths. Verma had over 30 years of cross-sectoral experience. He joined HT Media as CEO in 2004. Under his leadership, HT grew leaps and bounds in various businesses such as growing the vernacular segment with Hindustan or creating big national brands – Mint, Fever 104, Shine.com. He was responsible for the focus on new business, like events and key marketing solutions, ad for equity, and education, as well as major international collaborations with partners like Virgin Radio, Burda, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. "He was instrumental in transforming HT from a babu company to a corporate. There was immense corporatisation of the company under him. He definitely changed the culture of the organisation," said a senior industry person.

Verma served as a Non-Executive Director at Hindustan Media Ventures Limited from January 6, 2010 to June 24, 2013 and again from August 21, 2013 to September 11, 2015. He served as Whole Time Director at HT Media Limited from September 1, 2009 to March 10, 2016.

His international experience spans South-East Asia and European geographies, having worked with Whirlpool in Thailand and with Nestle in Philippines and Switzerland. He began his career with Hindustan Lever as a Management Trainee. He left HLL to join Nestle, where he spent over 12 years handling various portfolios from project management to turning around operations in Philippines.

Another senior executive who has worked closely with him said Verma's biggest strength was to be able to get huge investments from the promoters and boards to spend Rs 100 crore in newsroom transformation and integration process wherein digital and print had been integrated.

Some of the sources hinted that his biggest debacle however was Shine.com as it took away a lot of investment and yet failed to give much results. "Largely under him HT's both top line and bottom line grew pretty much at the average market rate," a source added.

Verma, a mechanical engineer from Delhi College of Engineering, is also on the Board of Governors, BITS Pilani. He also serves on the Kellogg alumni Advisory Board of Northwestern University (USA).

(Inputs from Pallavi Borkar)

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