John Seifert, World­wide Chair­man & CEO, Ogilvy & Mather, talks of In­dia as the fastest grow­ing mar­ket in the net­work, his ‘Next Chap­ter’ strat­egy, tar­get of a 50-50 gen­der bal­ance in crit­i­cal lead­er­ship ranks and jour­ney from in­tern to CEO in his nearly 40 years with the com­pany

In Jan­uary 2017, four months af­ter tak­ing over as World­wide Chair­man & CEO at Ogilvy & Mather, John Seifert an­nounced ‘Next Chap­ter’ - his trans­for­ma­tion plan to con­sol­i­date all Ogilvy brands un­der one P&L and take the com­pany back to be­ing a sin­gle-branded, in­te­grated en­ter­prise. For some­one who had grown from in­tern to CEO in the com­pany, known it from close quar­ters and in­ter­nal­ized the Ogilvy cul­ture for nearly 40 years, it was a move sig­nalling change de­manded by the volatile world, while at the same time safe­guard­ing the her­itage value of the brand. To­day, as Ogilvy’s ‘Next Chap­ter’ is in the process of be­ing rolled out across mar­kets – in­clud­ing In­dia - Seifert is a happy man, con­fi­dent about the out­come and the prospect of giv­ing the best pos­si­ble brand-build­ing ser­vices to his clients. He gives In­dia a promi­nent place in the en­tire ex­er­cise, and bets big on it as the net­work’s fastest grow­ing mar­ket. “I draw great strength from the legacy of the Ogilvy In­dia lead­er­ship, and I mar­vel at their abil­ity to build brands in that mar­ket. I am also very ex­cited about the next gen­er­a­tion of lead­ers. We are go­ing through the Next Chap­ter trans­for­ma­tion in In­dia right now and it will take us to a re­ally great place,” he de­clares.

On the time­line for the trans­for­ma­tion, he says, “In­dia is in the same po­si­tion as other top mar­kets in the world; they need to be do­ing the things that will make us ready and run­ning at full speed in 2018. So, 2017 I have called the messy year - we de­clared the changes, and are do­ing them as quickly as we can. We are or­ga­niz­ing the busi­ness, putting our new lead­er­ship team in place. All of that takes time, but I am very con­fi­dent that In­dia is right on track to go full speed by the year-end.”


“In­dia is prob­a­bly one of the five most im­por­tant mar­kets in the world for Ogilvy for a num­ber of rea­sons,” says Seifert. “It’s a mar­ket that has pro­duced some of the best work in Ogilvy’s his­tory con­sis­tently over time. David (Ogilvy) loved In­dia. He loved In­dian peo­ple and the rich di­ver­sity of In­dian cul­ture, and he spent a lot of time there. So, it’s al­ways been im­por­tant to me be­cause I rec­og­nize the im­por­tance that In­dia played in the net­work as a whole.” Seifert has spent eight years work­ing in Asia, and for him, In­dia has “al­ways been a bea­con within the Ogilvy net­work”. “In­dia is the fastest grow­ing mar­ket in the net­work right now. It’s dy­namic, it’s chang­ing rapidly. It’s not with­out its is­sues and chal­lenges, but as one of the most pop­u­lated coun­tries in the world, it’s a coun­try you can­not ig­nore. It will de­fine our agenda for a long time to come. We need to pay spe­cial at­ten­tion to In­dia, and as long as I am around, it will be one of my big­gest pri­or­i­ties,” he says.

Seifert ad­mits that In­dia is a chal­leng­ing but com­pli­cated mar­ket. “We work with many of our top 50 clients and we have an ex­tra­or­di­nary base of lo­cal clients in In­dia. Our brand rep­u­ta­tion in In­dia is stronger than it is any­where else in the world. We are fa­mous in In­dia which you don’t eas­ily see in our busi­ness. We are mov­ing quickly enough to build the ca­pa­bil­i­ties, tal­ent, tools, ways of work­ing that are go­ing to keep us as a leader in the mar­ket. But we are not grow­ing as fast as we would like to, and prin­ci­pally be­cause we are up against the is­sue of con­flicts. We are strug­gling to fig­ure out how to grow when we have so many client re­la­tion­ships, and

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