India Shining with Vikram Sakhuja

16 Aug,2012

 

By Johnson Napier

 

 

Proctor on Sakhuja

 

Exclusive to MxMIndia: Dominic Proctor, President of GroupM Global on Vikram Sakhuja’s appointment to the position of Global CEO of Maxus and the relocation of Maxus’ Global Heaquarters to India

 

Vikram has been selected as he is the best candidate for the job, not because he lives in India. The fact that he does live in India is an additional bonus because it spreads the management of Maxus around the world, consistent with the new world order. It also reflects the fact that much of our global senior talent resides in Asia and I fully expect that more of that talent will move into global positions in the years to come. Not just in GroupM agencies but business in general.

 

The world has become a smaller place and boundaries are no longer barriers. Maxus does not have a single HQ so there is no plan to move more people into the market. Indeed the agency will continue to grow and develop as a very global business.

 

Vikram will join the global management team of GroupM and I am really excited by the opportunity to work with him more closely. He will bring a different and interesting perspective to our business as we continue to grow. The fact that he is coming from a fast growing market will also be a benefit as we plan to grow quickly everywhere!

 

I can’t think of anybody as qualified as Vikram to build on the great work that Kelly Clark and his team have done in establishing Maxus as the world’s fastest growing agency.

As India celebrated her 66th Independence Day, the headquarters of the world’s fastest growing media agency is to be shifted to the country. And Vikram Sakhuja, currently Group M’s CEO for South Asia, has been appointed Global CEO of the media advertising network’s Maxus agency.

 

Proctor Dominic

Mr Sakhuja’s appointment was part of a series of senior-level changes announced on Wednesday by Dominic Proctor, President of GroupM Global. “The world has become a smaller place and boundaries are no longer barriers,” Mr Proctor told MxMIndia. “Maxus does not have a single HQ so there is no plan to move more people into the market. Indeed the agency will continue to grow and develop as a very global business.” Said Mr Sakhuja, “It’s very exciting and humbling at the same time… It’s still sinking in.”

 

In the first move, GroupM North American CEO Rob Norman becomes Chief Digital Officer for GroupM Global, a new position at the company.

 

Rob Norman

“Our activity in digital will define our future success and we are truly fortunate that Rob will step into this crucial role full time,” Mr Proctor said in a communiqué issued earlier, announcing the movements.  “There is nobody better suited or more experienced than Rob to lead our teams into the future.”

 

Mr Norman has extensive experience in the digital arena having served as CEO of GroupM Interaction since 2006.  Mr Proctor said his responsibilities will be significantly expanded in his new role.

 

Kelly Clark

At the same time, Mr Proctor said Kelly Clark, currently Global CEO of the GroupM agency Maxus, will succeed Mr Norman as CEO of GroupM North America.

 

“Kelly has had wonderful success with our companies in Asia, the UK, and Europe and most recently at Maxus globally,” Mr Proctor said.  “His broad experience and track record will bring a great boost to our business in North America.”  Prior to taking over Maxus in 2008, Mr Clark served as CEO of GroupM Europe, Middle East and Africa.

 

 

Talent and leadership is sitting everywhere: Vikram Sakhuja

 

The new Global CEO of Maxus spoke to MxMIndia hours after the news of his appointment was announced

 

Congratulations… has the news sunk in yet?

It’s very exciting and humbling at the same time. It’s a very vibrant and exciting agency to be with. All I can say right now is that I am thrilled with the news. It’s still sinking in.

 

In a sense you’ve piped some favourites to the job…

I really have no idea on how the contender things work. It obviously involves the system and you’ll have to ask that to the bosses at Group M.

 

We’ve seen the stellar work that you have done for Group M but personally, what would you attribute your ascent to the top to?

I can’t really say what is it that has worked in my favour. One needs to introspect such things, I guess. Something great has obviously worked for me. But one has to work things up and have a gameplan and get people together to move things in a particular direction. The ability to have a vision and the ability to drive it are the things that I have tried to do as the Group CEO for Group M South Asia. And if that has worked, then it’s great.

 

How big a challenge is it to fit in the shoes of Kelly Clark, who’s been promoted to CEO of Group M North America?

Kelly’s shoes will be very large to fill. I remember that I joined the system when he was the APAC head at Mindshare and was transitioning between UK and Europe handling several roles for the agency before he moved to Maxus. Hats off to Kelly for the sheer intrusiveness and energy with which he has driven the agency. I am a big fan of his.

 

What are the immediate changes that will be seen on ground?

Not sure on when the new change will come into effect and will be clear only when a successor has been decided. These things take time and it is still work in progress.

 

In a sense you become the first global CEO of a media agency to be based out of India. And Dominic Proctor too has highlighted the emergence of an APAC market as being the driving engine for the future. What do you have to say about this?

It so happens that you got talent and leadership sitting everywhere. I have been fortunate enough to be picked out of here but at the end of the day, we are living in a pretty global world and the new reality is that communication barriers are slowly fading away. In our earlier system, people used to be running the system out of Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong but suddenly where you sit is not central to what is called the ‘headquarter concept’. In my case too, it just so happens that I am going to be based in Mumbai. But I won’t read anything too much into saying that Asia Pacific has emerged as a hot favourite – it’s great to hear that but at the end of the day we have been part of the global network for years and it feels that way. I don’t see it as APAC being suddenly recognised. If you see Ashutosh Srivastava, the Mindshare APAC head also has taken up a global responsibility…so there are Indians all over the place. It just shows the ability of the system to look at APAC as the global hub rather than elsewhere.

 

Will it be a challenging task to lead global operations out of India?

It’s just that I am going to be based in Mumbai and I will be travelling as the other global CEOs do. A global CEO’s job doesn’t automatically mean that everything is decided by a bunch of team sitting at some headquarter and running the entire set-up, it doesn’t work like that. You’ve got to work through a network, you’ve got to create a team and drive a certain agenda. It doesn’t require physically handling a bunch of people in one place.

 

One of the challenges will be to see that Maxus continues to achieve the 20 per cent growth trajectory in the coming future as well…

I have no idea how I’ll continue to keep it at that. But it will be an interesting challenge. I look forward to my role at Maxus.

 

Vikram Sakhuja interviews on mxmindia.com

 

Interview with Anil Thakraney

http://www.mxmindia.com/2012/06/ creative-agencies-have-allowed-themselves-to-be-dumbed-down-vikram-sakhuja/

 

Text and MxMIndiaTV interview at FICCI-Frames 2012

http://www.mxmindia.com/2012/03/ff12-integrated-media-is-the-best-way-forward- vikram-sakhuja/

 

MxMIndiaTV interview at World Magazine Congress 2011

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GSS2j9PQMkU& feature=player_embedded

Maxus was named the 2011 “Media Agency of the Year” by Adweek and last month the agency was named the fastest-growing global media services agency in the world for the third consecutive year by RECMA, the independent organization that measures media agency sector operations.

 

Taking Mr Clark’s role at Maxus will be Mr Vikram Sakhuja, currently CEO of GroupM India and South Asia. “Vikram is the perfect candidate to take on the Maxus role from Kelly,” Mr Proctor said.  “Maxus has a great management team and a lot of momentum.  I have no doubt that Vikram will continue to build a great agency.”  He added that Mr Sakhuja will remain in his current role until his successor is announced (See ‘Proctor on Sakhuja’ in box alongside).

 

All three will report to Mr Proctor and the new roles begin later this year.

 

Mr Sakhuja’s appointment is the second global level appointment made by Maxus in recent times. Earlier this year, Madhvi Pahwa moved from a Group M responsibility to that of Global Talent Director. Ms Pahwa was to be based in India.  But now, Maxus has become the first global media agency to have its headquarters in not just India, but also Asia. Said Mr Proctor on the relocation of the HQ: “It also reflects the fact that much of our global senior talent resides in Asia and I fully expect that more of that talent will move into global positions in the years to come. Not just in GroupM agencies but business in general.”

 

Lynn de Souza, chairman and CEO of Lintas Media Group, believes that it’s a welcome recognition for Mr Sakhuja and India. “It shows that Indian talent is appreciated and not that it needs to be exported out of India to do good work. That is the essential story that comes out of this,” she said. Added Mona Jain, CEO, Vivaki Exchange:India has been consistently delivering healthy growth numbers for several agencies and is also one of the fastest growing markets in the continent. So it is only fitting for them to consider India as the hub for managing global operations.”

 

For Mr Sakhuja, it’s a significant move as he moves to Group M global management team directly and not via the Asia-Pacific route. However, he doesn’t think there’s an all-new focus on APAC. “It just so happens that I am going to be based in Mumbai. But I won’t read anything too much into saying that Asia Pacific has emerged as a hot favourite – it’s great to hear that but at the end of the day we have been part of the global network for years and it feels that way,” he said.

 

The successor to his current position as CEO, Group M South Asia hasn’t been announced yet. Once that’s done and the transition happens, Mr Sakhuja will take on the global role at Maxus in right earnest.

 

 

INDUSTRYSPEAK

 

Lynn de Souza, Chairman & CEO, Lintas Media Group

I think it is a fantastic development both for Vikram himself who has really done a very good job ever since I have known him and it’s an appreciation for all the good that he has done and the potential that he has. So I am very happy for him. Also, for the industry itself, it shows that Indian talent is appreciated and not that it needs to be exported out of India to do good work. That is the essential story that comes out of this.

 

Certainly, Maxus is a great agency; I have always said that. It’s excellent news; the recognition for Vikram as well as for India is really very good.

 

Divya Gupta, Chief Executive Officer, Dentsu Media India

This epitomizes India as a key, growth engine for most brands and marketers across the globe.
It also augurs the emergence of India as a strategic global and regional hub for management and control of network businesses.
I wish Vikram success.

 

Mona Jain, CEO, Vivaki Exchange

The agency has always been rated highly. It’s great news that the CEO should be from India which shows that the country is becoming very critical in the entire global scheme of things for agency networks. Also, India has been consistently delivering healthy growth numbers for several agencies and is also one of the fastest growing markets in the continent. So it is only fitting for them to consider India as the hub for managing global operations.

 

 

Maxus Global Factsheet

> Launched in late 2008, is part of GroupM, the world’s largest media investment management group that serves as the parent company for all of WPP’s media agencies, and which buys over one third of the world’s media every day.

> Rated world’s fastest growing global media agency network

> Talent base 1,400 people across 67 locations worldwide

> Global clients include Barclays, SC Johnson, NBC Universal, Fiat Group, Nokia, Vodafone, Church & Dwight, Nestle and L’Oreal

>Services include Communications strategy, Media planning and buying, Digital marketing, SEM and SEO, Direct response media, Data analytics and Marketing ROI evaluation

(Information source: Factsheet, www.maxusglobal.com)

 

 

Rise and Rise…

 

Vikram Sakhuja

Twitter @VikramSakhuja

 

Education:

IIM Calcutta (1988)

IIT Delhi (1984)

Modern School, Delhi (1979)

 

Work:

Group M

CEO South Asia (earlier MD, Mindshare Fulcrum and later Mindshare South Asia) (2002-present)

Star TV

Exec VP Marketing (Jan-Dec 2001)

Coca-Cola India

Marketing Manager-Brands (1996-2000)

P&G India

Associate Manager-Media & MR (1988-96)

DCM

Management Trainee (1984-86)

 

 

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One response to “India Shining with Vikram Sakhuja”

  1. deepika rawat says:

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