"In­no­vate Or Per­ish":

Karan Singh, CEO, Sun­burn Global

India Business Journal - - CONTENTS - Send feed­back to chand.sharmila@gmail.com

Karan Singh, the dash­ing CEO of Sun­burn Global, flaunts big-ticket de­grees from some of the re­puted global in­sti­tu­tions. A man­age­ment with hon­ours (BSc) de­gree from the pres­ti­gious UK's Lon­don School of Eco­nomics (LSE) and an MBA from world-renowned Har­vard Busi­ness School have given Mr Singh suf­fi­cient ground­ing in aca­demics.

Start­ing his ca­reer as a se­nior an­a­lyst at Am­bit Cor­po­rate Fi­nance in Mum­bai, Mr Singh de­vel­oped his ex­per­tise in ad­vis­ing com­pa­nies in the me­dia and en­ter­tain­ment sec­tors on M&As, pri­vate eq­uity fi­nance, strate­gic trans­ac­tions, busi­ness plans and in­vestor pre­sen­ta­tions for sell-side trans­ac­tions. Some of his no­table achieve­ments at Am­bit in­cluded his ad­vi­sory role to Vi­a­com on its en­try into In­dia's en­ter­tain­ment sec­tor through a joint ven­ture with the Tele­vi­sion18 Group to create a net­work of tele­vi­sion chan­nels. He also ad­vised Miditech on its strate­gic sale to Time Warner and ad­vised the pro­moter fam­ily of Miditech on suc­cess­ful struc­tur­ing of a joint ven­ture with Turner to create a new Hindi gen­eral en­ter­tain­ment TV chan­nel in In­dia.

In May 2011, Mr Singh joined Per­cept Live as CEO of Sun­burn Global, where he be­came re­spon­si­ble for pro­vid­ing strate­gic di­rec­tion, map­ping al­liances, cre­at­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for in­te­gra­tion and paving the roadmap for Sun­burn - one of Asia's largest elec­tronic dance mu­sic fes­ti­vals. With his core ex­per­tise in strate­gic plan­ning and high net­work­ing, the Sun­burn Global chief has brought in a wealth of ideas and knowl­edge from his global ex­pe­ri­ence to help lead Sun­burn and take it to the next level.

Mr Singh is pas­sion­ate about sports and loves play­ing Foot­ball and Squash. He had also hosted a 90-minute weekly sports talk show at Pulse FM (Uni­ver­sity Ra­dio at LSE). At Har­vard, he had or­gan­ised the busi­ness school's first-ever char­ity Poker tour­na­ment and was also on the com­mit­tee for the Squash and Soc­cer clubs, in addition to be­ing CFO of the uni­ver­sity's Me­dia and En­ter­tain­ment Club. In an en­gag­ing in­ter­view with Sharmila Chand, Mr Singh out­lines his man­age­ment the­o­ries and prac­tices that have helped him ex­cel in his ca­reer.

Your five man­age­ment mantras

Del­e­gate smartly. You can­not do ev­ery­thing on your own.

Al­ways be well pre­pared even if it's for a simple meet­ing or a call. Do your home­work and re­search. There's no sub­sti­tute for hard work. Set small in­cre­men­tal goals for your­self and ac­com­plish them. Don't beat around the bush; peo­ple ap­pre­ci­ate hon­esty and open­ness.

A game that helps your ca­reer

I love play­ing Foot­ball and also Squash. Foot­ball is great be­cause it's a team sport, and there's a lot of ca­ma­raderie. Ev­ery­one has his or her own role. Squash is a fan­tas­tic stress­buster and sport that can re­ally help you push your lim­its.

A turn­ing point in your ca­reer life

We have faced a lot of dif­fi­culty and mas­sive ob­sta­cles from var­i­ous quarters in do­ing Sun­burn over the years. There have been many times when it may have been eas­ier to give up, but we al­ways kept go­ing and gave each other strength. Now, I know that we can over­come any­thing.

Se­cret of your suc­cess

Al­though I be­lieve that I still have a long way to go, I try to set re­al­is­tic tar­gets for my­self and then go all out to achieve them. In a highly dy­namic in­dus­try and en­vi­ron­ment, pa­tience, per­se­ver­ance and dis­ci­pline def­i­nitely go a long way in achiev­ing my goals. And yes, with pas­sion, noth­ing is im­pos­si­ble.

Your phi­los­o­phy of work

Be col­lab­o­ra­tive, open and prac­ti­cal, and, at the same time, am­bi­tious.

A per­son you ad­mire

My fa­ther, for sure, and also my grandfather, Man­gal Singh, whose work ethic and de­sire to help peo­ple were truly amaz­ing. I have never seen any­one like him. And I've never come across any­one who didn't have great

things to say about him. I do try to fol­low his guid­ance and help peo­ple wher­ever I can, ir­re­spec­tive of if I can get some­thing in re­turn or not.

Your favourite books

The Catcher in the Rye was my favourite while grow­ing up. As a teenager, I felt that it res­onated with me and was a re­ally good com­ing-of-age novel. The other favourites in­clude Brave New World, which is way more rel­e­vant to­day than when it was writ­ten, way ahead of its time, and also Catch 22, a great, satir­i­cal, war novel.

Your fit­ness regime

I work out two to three times a week and, apart from that, play Squash and Foot­ball, along with the oc­ca­sional swim. I keep mix­ing it up to keep my work­out reg­i­men in­ter­est­ing.

Your five busi­ness mantras

Think long term: Avoid tak­ing de­ci­sions that of­fer short-term so­lu­tions. You need to fore­see achieve­ments of your busi­ness five years down the road. Fo­cus on build­ing what your clients and cus­tomers are

look­ing for, not what will be a quick­fix so­lu­tion.

Con­sumer is king: Cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion and loy­alty can be the most valu­able tool to a brand's longevity. Don't build a vague busi­ness model or de­velop a generic so­lu­tion where the tar­get au­di­ence is any­one in the world. Get to know your con­sumers, do re­search on them and con­nect with them fre­quently, ask rel­e­vant ques­tions, and, above all, earn their trust.

Em­brace tech­nol­ogy: Iden­ti­fy­ing and us­ing the best IT tools with a first-mover ad­van­tage can help your brand leapfrog way ahead of com­pe­ti­tion. Pay at­ten­tion to tech­nol­ogy trends, and think through your busi­ness model, es­pe­cially on how it adds value to your cus­tomers. De­ter­mine which tech tool will al­low your busi­ness to am­plify con­nect and reach so that you are able to scale and grow.

In­no­vate or per­ish: Brands that fail to in­no­vate risk ex­tinc­tion. In an era of dig­i­tal dis­rup­tion, one can­not af­ford to stay still. Busi­ness is a mov­ing es­ca­la­tor, the world is evolv­ing, cus­tomer ex­pec­ta­tions are chang­ing, and com­peti­tors are for­ever catch­ing up. In­no­va­tion re­quires you to be a con­stant vi­sion­ary, be fear­less, and take risks that may seem im­pru­dent to the faint­hearted.

Stand your ground: As a busi­ness leader, you need to be ex­tremely per­se­ver­ing and determined. This may seem so common sense, but when you're in the board­room mak­ing snap vi­tal de­ci­sions, it's tough to pull back and think through. But ul­ti­mately, grit and de­ter­mi­na­tion, along with in­sur­mount­able be­lief in your brand's ca­pa­bil­ity, will lead you to suc­cess.

Your last words

It's ex­cit­ing times we live in. By 2020, the me­dian in­di­vid­ual in In­dia will be 29 years, mak­ing us the youngest coun­try in the world. Filled with bound­less en­ergy, ac­tive ideas and a fear­less at­ti­tude, In­dia is all set to ex­pe­ri­ence a dy­namic trans­for­ma­tion filled with abound­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for mar­keters, spon­sors and leagues across do­mains. The fu­ture will be­long to those who can bring these con­sumers back to­gether on common yet innovative plat­forms of en­gage­ment. And I am ex­cited to be poised on the brink of such an amaz­ing turn­ing point in our his­tory.

"Cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion and loy­alty can be the most valu­able tool to a brand's longevity. Don't build a vague busi­ness model or de­velop a generic so­lu­tion where the tar­get au­di­ence is any­one in the world. Get to know your con­sumers and con­nect with them fre­quently." KARAN SINGH, CEO, Sun­burn Global

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