Meet the IAA Awardwinners-1 | Leadership can only be earned: Sam Balsara

04 Feb,2013

In his long and illustrious career, Sam Balsara has played a key role for the Indian advertising and media in industry forums and the government.  And as As Chairman & Managing Director, Madison World, he is known to have a keen sense for offering top value to clients even as he is a formidable force at client pitches.  Last Saturday, at the IAA Leadership Awards, Mr Balsara was recognised with the Media Agency Head of the Year award. In the first of the interviews with IAA Leadership Award winners, Mr Balsara shares with RITU MIDHA what lies at the core of Madison’s success


How would you define a leader?

I don’t think you can consciously become a leader – it’s your actions that make others recognise you as a leader. Leadership, to my mind can only be earned – and that is why there are very few leaders. I am not saying that I am one of them.


What would you attribute this award to?

I am not sure if I have done too much to earn it. Maybe, it can be attributed to the unique ownership position of Madison. There are not too many independent media agencies in the world – and probably industry acknowledges that surviving and driving for so long in this highly competitive world is no mean feat. I am thankful to the industry for considering me worthy of this award.


What lies at the core of Madison Media’s success?

A very simple premise: we are serving our clients, and we should deliver a much greater value to them than we are earning from them.


You are a role model for many – what do you think would be the right steps for these youngsters.

What I have followed is publicly known – but I must clarify – that is not the only way to success or leadership. It took me 16 years of working with large companies on the client and agency side, before I stepped out on my own – younger people these days don’t have the patience to last out that long trying to gather experience, expertise, knowledge before you can set out on your own. One of the things I had in my mind as a criteria and which I believe every entrepreneur should have – would I join that agency as an employee if I was not the owner of that agency. It is an important yardstick to follow before you set up on your own.


Do you think people at any level can show leadership traits – or does it come only as you climb up the ladder?

Generally CEO or Head of an organisation is recognised as a leader but to my mind even a media planner or an account executive can earn mantle of leadership. Leadership is something that you can demonstrate at every level. Leadership qualities are immediately noticeable to those around that person.


TOMORROW: Anil Dua and Gayatri Yadav


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