The Importance of Being Vikram Sakhuja

24 Jan,2013

 

By Johnson Napier

With inputs from Ananya Saha

 

It may be the calling of a lifetime but as Vikram Sakhuja gets ready to shoulder new responsibilities as Global CEO of Maxus, he leaves behind a legacy at Group M that’s not going to be easy to match. Apart from influencing the team and colleagues to take on bigger challenges at the workplace, Mr Sakhuja has ensured that that the four media agencies under Group M umbrella continue to dish out excellence in whatever manner possible. The results are for all to see as the Group collectively has soared to great heights over the past few years and has become a hot favourite with several clients as well.

 

On the eve of a farewell the team at Group M is hosting for him, MxMIndia spoke to a few industry captains who have worked or interacted closely with Mr Sakhuja maverick to gather their perspective on his contribution to Group M and towards the industry.

 

CLIENT:

Ajay Kakar, Chief Marketing Officer, Aditya Birla Group – Financial Services

What does one say about Vikram? He is an omnipresent shadow. And what i mean by omnipresent is that he is there all the time but in his perfect humility and understated personality. He is not overpowering or overbearing but always there wherever you need him, wherever you need him. So as a client, i can say he is an omnipresent shadow, a very reassuring person to have to have access to and he will be there.

 

As an industryperson, he is a very rounded person because he has the rare experience of agency, client and media. He is not a theoretical preacher but he has been on all sides and knows the practical side of clients and clients’ business. It gives him an unparalleled edge. The biggest thing i have noticed about him that he has managed to create culture at Group M, which reflects his personality of understated people who just do their best. Typically, advertising is about talking about your own self and talking about your own work. Here, his personality is of being understated and letting his work speak for himself and he has managed to permeate that culture across all Group M companies. Today, if you look at the Group M leadership belt, you find the same welcome personality across the agencies and people.

 

What he has achieved is unparalleled  Look at the way Group M agencies are ruling not on size but on recognition also. On one end it is Mindshare and at the other, it is Maxus. Whichever horse won the race, it was Group M or Vikram.

 

COMPETITION:

Sam Balsara, Chairman & Managing Director, Madison World

I’ve known Vikram Sakhuja for quite some time now first as a client at P&G and Coca Cola and then at Star India and later Group M. I see Vikram as a true-blue professional with high professional integrity and commitment to do a good, objective and honest job at hand. Also, he has performed well as a leader at Group M and his promotion is richly deserved. His promotion in fact is a cause of pride for all of us in the media industry and also India Inc. because he is an outstanding example of someone from within our industry who has been chosen to be a global head and that too operate out of India.

 

Ambika Srivastava, Chairperson, VivaKi Exchange India

I’ve known Vikram Sakhuja since his brand management days when he was with Coca Cola. He was very sharp and clear and was always able to ask the right questions. It’s a fundamental want but some people do not ask the right questions especially at forums. What I’ve noticed with Vikram is that he is always focused and asks the right questions. That is what enables him to articulate and address issues in the right manner.

 

As for his stint at Group M, I personally feel that he has done a great job especially during the last 2-3 years when the economy was going through a tough phase. His appointment as global CEO of Maxus is indeed an achievement; he would be a great role model for the younger generation. I am indeed pleased that Indian talent has been recognised; it was indeed waiting to happen.

 

MEDIA HOUSE:

Bhaskar Das, Group CEO, Zee News (cluster)

From what I’ve seen of Vikram Sakhuja, he is truly an inspirational leader as he is known to lead by example whether on the intellectual or managerial front. Of the many qualities that he possesses the one I think he is good at is keeping his eye on the future and seeking out cutting-edge development in the business and media space. He has a good understanding of business theories and the way it needs to undergo constant evolution for its own betterment. Our industry is such that it is undergoing continuous evolution due to acceleration in technological development and global practices. For a media buying house to be successful needs to have a good thought leadership in place and that is what Vikram Sakhuja has excelled in abundantly.

 

During his stint, I think Group M has achieved greater heights and much of that has been possible due to his dynamic thought leadership skills. He has even created leaders out of his organisation in the time that he was at Group M. It is a matter of pride that an Indian has managed to get a global mandate, which signifies the importance being paid to Indian talent and also India being the epicentre of intellectual and managerial ability.

 

(Dr Bhaskar Das was until recently President, Bennett Coleman and Company Ltd)

 

COLLEAGUE:

Ajit Varghese, Managing Director South Asia – Maxus and Motivator

Vikram has been a client, a boss and great leader for me in the last decade. His biggest strength is depth of knowledge, ability to dig deep into issues and ability to focus on issue in hand than the people involved. To me his biggest contribution to GroupM is his ability to choreograph the strengths of 15-17 units heads and not letting competition have anything easy.

 

 


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