It’s not a suc­ces­sion plan, but a suc­cess plan: Piyush Pandey

Impact - - FEATURE -

The sec­ond week of July turned out to be an Ogilvy In­dia week, with the an­nounce­ment of Sonal Dabral as the agency’s new Group Chief Cre­ative Of­fi­cer & Vice Chair­man, even as Na­tional Cre­ative Direc­tor Ra­jiv Rao ex­ited to pur­sue his in­ter­ests in film­mak­ing. Close on its heels came the an­nounce­ment of a new, in­te­grated cre­ative lead­er­ship struc­ture that will come into ef­fect from Au­gust 1, 2017. It in­cludes the el­e­va­tion of Ajay Gahlaut as Chief Cre­ative Of­fi­cer, Ogilvy North & Deputy CCO, Ogilvy In­dia. Sukesh Nayak, Kainaz Kar­makar and Har­shad Ra­jad­hyak­sha will take on the role of Chief Cre­ative Of­fi­cers, Ogilvy West, while Ma­hesh Gharat and Aza­zul Haque are now Chief Cre­ative Of­fi­cers, Ogilvy South. All the CCOs will re­port di­rectly to Sonal Dabral. Mean­while, Ogilvy vet­eran Su­manto Chat­topad­hyay has been made Chair­man & Chief Cre­ative Of­fi­cer of Soho Square.

Since then, Piyush Pandey, Ex­ec­u­tive Chair­man and Cre­ative Direc­tor, South Asia Ogilvy & Mather In­dia, has not tired of ex­plain­ing to all and sundry that it is not a suc­ces­sion plan, and he has ab­so­lutely no plans to re­tire. “This is not a suc­ces­sion plan, but a suc­cess plan,” he quips with his inim­itable hu­mour, “If any­one writes a will, it doesn’t mean that he has a death wish to­mor­row morn­ing!”

Here are ex­cerpts from a con­ver­sa­tion Srabana Lahiri had with Piyush Pandey:

Q] How does the new cre­ative lead­er­ship struc­ture in In­dia align with the global Next Chap­ter trans­for­ma­tion at Ogilvy?

It’s all in line with John Seifert’s plan of One Ogilvy. It com­bines all the dis­ci­plines – the plan is for dig­i­tal peo­ple to sit along with cre­ative peo­ple and now there is a leader for that. While we have not set a clear dead­line, it will hap­pen in the next 3-4 months. Mean­while, we are not chang­ing any­thing that can dis­turb our whole sys­tem or clients’ ex­pec­ta­tions. Ev­ery tran­si­tion has to be done in a fash­ion that the new ad­justs with the ex­ist­ing and they both grow to­gether.

Q] How do you see the new cre­ative lead­er­ship struc­ture de­liv­er­ing bet­ter re­sults for clients?

That we will have to see when the time for de­liv­ery comes. Let me put it like this - you put the best team to­gether with the best in­ten­tion, but you can­not pre­dict that you are go­ing to win the match by 180 runs. The match we will win, that I am con­fi­dent. But, by how many runs will I win it, only time will tell.

the Q] Why did you pick Sonal Dabral for Ogilvy over all the oth­ers out there in the in­dus­try?

I am 100% con­fi­dent in the court­room that I stand, in the en­tire in­dus­try, and when I come back to my orig­i­nal de­ci­sion, that he is the ob­vi­ous choice.

Q] What are your ex­pec­ta­tions from Sonal Dabral?

Sonal’s ap­point­ment is about nur­tur­ing and flow­er­ing more cre­ative tal­ent than ever be­fore. I sim­ply ex­pect that Sonal will let a thou­sand flow­ers bloom at Ogilvy. He will give the cre­ative team sup­port, nur­tur­ing and a safety net, and at the same time rub shoul­ders with them and write great cam­paigns. But, the big­gest thing is to hold aloft the stan­dards of Ogilvy at the same height or even greater heights than we are at to­day. And that means team work.

Re­cently, I called him up at 6.30 a.m. and I said, ‘Sonal, get used to morn­ing calls from me again!’ I am a morn­ing per­son, and if I get an idea, I want to share it with my part­ner, no mat­ter what the time is!

Q] Ogilvy CEO John Seifert’s tar­get is to achieve 50:50 gen­der par­ity at the crit­i­cal lead­er­ship level. When do you see that hap­pen­ing in In­dia?

I am not too wor­ried about it be­cause we never had that prob­lem. I am a be­liever in women lead­ers. To­day, we have Tithi Ghosh in Ban­ga­lore. We have Hephz­ibah lead­ing all the in­ter­na­tional busi­nesses. We have Kainaz who is mak­ing us look bril­liant in the world. There are oth­ers too. The idea is not 50% reser­va­tion. The idea is that to­mor­row if there are 80% rock­stars who are women, then so be it. There won’t be a num­ber to it.

Q] What could Ogilvy do bet­ter than what it is al­ready do­ing now?

What­ever you have done yes­ter­day, was yes­ter­day. So, ev­ery­thing that you do to­day, we hope to be bet­ter than yes­ter­day. Given that, I think we should have the lead in dig­i­tal, we must con­sol­i­date it even more. We don’t like win­ning by 10 runs. I would love a wide mar­gin. We have a long way to go in be­ing a leader in PR; we would like to be that. There are gaps here and there. Over­all, I am a very happy man, but I would like to be­lieve that I’ll be a

hap­pier man to­mor­row.

Q] It’s been an Ogilvy week all along… with Ogilvy vet­eran Roda Me­hta win­ning the AAAI Life­time Achieve­ment award…

Con­sid­er­ing the kind of rev­o­lu­tion she brought to Me­dia, she should have got this award 15 years back. If you be­lieve I made a dif­fer­ence to Cre­ative, then I would like to say that she made a dif­fer­ence to Me­dia long be­fore I came in. I am very happy for her. And I am thank­ful to AAAI for fi­nally rec­og­niz­ing her for what she truly de­serves.

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