Meet the new CEOs of Lodestar UM & Initiative

21 Oct,2013


By Ritu Midha


Media agency major IPG Mediabrands has dressed up its top deck with three elevations. Nandini Dias, till now COO, Lodestar UM, will now lead the agency as its CEO and will be based in Mumbai. New Delhi-based Anamika Mehta, the second COO of Lodestar UM, is the new CEO of Initiative. Amar Deep Singh has been elevated to the post of CEO, MAP (short for Mediabrands Audience Platform), comprising Reprise and Interactive Avenues. He was, till now, CEO of Interactive Avenues. With this announcement, the four entities of IPG Mediabrands in India have independent chief executives. The fourth arm – Business Programming Network or BPN has Suresh Balakrishna as CEO.


Said a visibly elated Shashi Sinha, “When I became CEO of IPG Mediabrands, it was decided that for the first six months I would double act, as the CEO of IPG as well as Lodestar. In Initiative while we had senior level resources there was no CEO. Though we have made announcement of our CEOs now, they have been running the organisations for quite some time now.”


IPG Mediabrands formally entered India in March 2012. Media agencies Lodestar UM, Initiative, BPN, Reprise, Interactive Avenues, Magna Intelligence and the outdoor business are part of the global media agency conglomerate. Sinha took the responsibility of the CEO of the holding company in October last year.



Nandini Dias: volume and intensity of external demands will increase manifold

On how it feels to be elevated to the role of CEO:

It’s a proud moment for me.  It is not very often that a person remains steady in one organisation and moves up the rank right to the top. I joined the organization 18 years back and never imagined one day I would head it. Since I have always felt tremendous loyalty for the firm and share great camaraderie with my colleagues, it looks like an exciting prospect.


On the new responsibilities:

As a COO, I was focused on the internal operations and the day-to-day business needs. With the CEO role, I am aware that the volume and intensity of external demands will increase manifold. Whether it is international, industry groups, or as a brand ambassador of the agency, the interaction with the outside community will contribute to a large part of my responsibilities. I will have to be able to manage the dual roles of being both inside- and outside-focused.


On equation with clients - will they change?:

Clients like Mahindra, Amul, Nerolac, Wipro, Zodiac and Tata have been with me all of the 18 years and my relationship with these clients run really deep. In fact in all these organizations, the heads are also people who have risen alongside me and are now in a pivotal role. So I will do all I can to not let the equation change. On the back of my clients, I have found my victories so it is important for me to keep their confidence. There are also clients, I have met socially or in client agency parties but I have not worked alongside. I need to earn their confidence. The heartening fact is that the top 15 leaders who are custodian to these businesses have been with Lodestar UM over 7-8 years. Therefore, there would be a sense of continuity with them.  Having said that, I am also aware that there will be time and knowledge limitations and I need to build in far more efficiency in everything I do.


On the challenge of leading a large multi-city team:

That is a big challenge. All CEOs are quasi HR heads. Thankfully, I have watched Mr Anil Kapoor and Shashi managing large teams with great elan. The group has the most steady teams among advertising and media agencies.


I am alive to the fact that the external pressures tugging one away from day-to-day operations and the limitation of time may take away my awareness and the pulse off the youngsters. And it will feel strange not to know what subordinates are up to.


However, I believe that, over a period of time, the culture that we have built makes us contiguous and brings us on the same wavelength. So it doesn’t matter which city or where one operates from – the response and behaviour is based on the same principles.


Immediate action points on agenda:

I think the first thing to do is internalize that going forward I can no longer be involved in all decisions as Lodestar UM is a large organization. To run the organization efficiently, I will need to articulate and communicate a clearly understood strategy, give definite guidelines on the processes and structures  and take forward the defined values and attitudes.



Anamika Mehta: Doing and scaling things quickly is critical

On how it feels to be elevated to the role of CEO:

Exhilarating but also overwhelming!


On the new responsibilities:

Responsibilities and more! A critical task early on is to establish priorities and leverage the opportunity to reset Initiative’s rhythm to the requirements of future.


It will be as much about driving a shared vision and agenda with teams and client partners. Eventually isn’t it all about driving teams, driving clients’ business and driving the P&L?


On equation with clients - will they change?:

All of us at IPG Mediabrands have been ingrained over years with the importance of building and strengthening client relationships at the back of product quality and throughput. We have an enviable track record of the most long-term client relationships in the industry - right from Maruti, Sony, MRF at Initiative or Amul, Tata Group, Microsoft, Wipro, Mahindra in Lodestar UM.


So it will be a dual theme of ‘give clients what they want’ and ‘business like thinking’! And like in any business today, it will be as much about a hands-on approach with clients and rolling up my sleeves. Doing and scaling things quickly is critical.


On the challenge of leading a large multi-city team:

As I mentioned, it is all about prioritizing, driving a shared goal and managing across cities, across clients, across teams in a strategic fashion. I am quite confident our strong second rung of established leaders across cities and our value laden theme will make the journey exciting. And most importantly an open and inclusive culture will help navigate challenges if any.


Immediate action points on agenda:

A Barefoot Run in a FBDS way - Fast, Brave, Decisive, Simple. In today’s challenged business environment we will have to be bold, fast-moving with greater and purposeful speed, tough-minded and responsible businesspeople to stay ahead of the game.


IPG Mediabrands believes strongly in the power of brands to build a better world. Brands matter most when they are aligned with a larger purpose and we are going to be committed to that vision in the long run.


And last leveraging the strength, scale and clout of IPG Mediabrands India to Initiative’s advantage.



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