This interview with Rediffusion’s newly appointed joint presidents Rahul Jauhari and Navonil Chatterjee is special for many reasons. The chain of events that culminated in their elevation is noteworthy. For starters, the original promoters of Rediffusion Diwan Arun Nanda and Ajit Balakrishnan bought back the 40 per cent shares held in their company by Y&R and Dentsu, making it an independent outfit once again. That it happened just days ahead of Independence Day is a coincidence, of course. Earlier this year, Sir Martin Sorrell, who tried hard to increase his stake in the agency over the years, stepped down as CEO of WPP.
Then, the president of the agency Dhunji Wadia moved out, making room for Rahul and Navonil to step up and take on the additional mandate of running the business. All eyes are on this creative-planning duo; in fact, sceptics are already taking about the absence of a business head. When I asked Rahul to react to this, he recalled a conversation with Balki from many years back, which, when distilled down to its core lesson is something to the tune of – the one whose ass is on the line is the leader, regardless of the discipline he or she belongs to. Touché.
Rahul and Navonil patiently addressed similar questions, gleaned mostly from feedback I gathered from their peers in the industry before meeting them.
I spent an hour with the men in the eye of the storm… and walked away feeling calm. They’re affable, relatable and easy to talk to. They share a hard-to-miss professional camaraderie – the kind that lets one complete, and rudely interrupt, the other’s sentences with a smile. My favourite part? They seem to have a sense of humour about everything that’s going on around them, the kind that’ll serve them well in the days ahead, as they do their best to make good on Arun Nanda’s brief to them:
“Unfurl the flag again!”