From Maxus to? Q&A with Vikram Sakhuja

17 Oct,2014


By Pradyuman Maheshwari


There was some reason for gloom in the advertising and media services fraternity on Thursday. Media services conglomerate GroupM announced the appointment of Lindsay Pattison as Global CEO of Maxus. But, more importantly, she replaces Vikram Sakhuja, who will remain in the group, but the position is not announced. What one is waiting for is the announcement on Mr Sakhuja, and as GroupM insiders who know him, he is someone who is going to be looking up and will be in to much bigger things.


A million Indian hearts sank when they heard of you moving on from Maxus CEO, we told him. For, for the world of advertising and marketing professionals here, it was matter of great pride to have one of their own on the world stage. So, next is what? Am sure there’s an ace up your sleeve, but that’s a question which I guess everyone appears to be asking. “No reason for hearts to sink,” Mr Sakhuja – Vikkie to friends – said, matter-of-factly and responded to MxMIndia’s questions.


To borrow from a well-known Hindi film song of our time: yeh kya hua, kaise hua, kyun huaaa?

To also borrow from a well-known song – Main toh chala jidhar challe rasta – only in this case I have an idea of what the manzil is.


Your sentiments on handing over charge? What according to you was the most satisfying moment and/or high of your stint as Global CEO?

Always satisfying when an internal succession can be planned. Maxus is in great hands with Lindsay. Highpoint was to continue the Maxus growth juggernaut. I wanted to double the size of the agency in three years. After two years we are well on track for that.


Any unfinished agenda? Something that you would like to have done?

Oh, lots to be done. We are positioning Maxus as an Agency that leans into change. We have embarked on a process to build culture, systems, talent and capabilities that allow us to responsibly question status quo and provide innovative brand solutions in an always-on real-time world. And to come across as a compelling Agency to Advertisers. That is an ongoing and exciting journey.


You spent the last year-odd based in the US. Working here in India v/s the US?

Tremendous learnings from the US. The thing that hits you is scale. Also the realisation that a large part of the global economic world does operate from a NY or London.


Given a chance, would you like to work here in India or elsewhere in the world? Preferred location?

Honestly, am pretty open, depends on the assignment. Needs to be a place where my wife is comfortable going to, and she’s open. As they say, watch this space.


And one extra question: you’ve achieved much already, what’s the next challenge for you? Or something that you would like to achieve, workwise?

Two things excite me. Making media more accountable especially in the area of effectiveness, and unlocking the business potential of the content-technology-platform space.



Lindsay Pattison takes charge as Global CEO for Maxus


By a Correspondent


Media services conglomerate GroupM announced the appointment of Lindsay Pattison as Global CEO of Maxus. Pattison will co-locate between London and New York and will report to Proctor. She replaces Vikram Sakhuja, who will remain in the group, but the position is not announced.


Under Mr Sakhuja, Maxus was the fastest growing agency in the world and expanded its network footprint and added major new accounts such as NBC Universal and L’Oreal. The announcement was made by GroupM’s Global President Dominic Proctor who was in India recently.


Ms Pattison has been successfully leading Maxus in the UK for five years, taking it in that time from a ranking of 14 to a No 7 position, and from 30 people to now over 250. She has also held the global Chief Strategy Officer role for the last two years, overseeing product, planning, marketing, new business and effectiveness.


“Lindsay has a proven reputation as a leader and is held with enormous regard both internally and by her clients,” said Mr Proctor in a communique. “She exemplifies the spirit and ambition of the Maxus culture and we are confident she will take the network into the next stage of growth.”


Said Ms Pattison, “I am thrilled to step up into this role. I love the energy of Maxus and I relish opportunity that comes from our unique and fortunate position as the challenger brand within GroupM. At Maxus we have a mantra to lean into change. In fact it’s really to lead change for our clients, navigating the complexity and embracing the possibilities offered in a digitalised, mobile, always-on media landscape.” “It’s an incredibly exciting time to lead a global media agency, particularly across Asia where the opportunities for growth are extremely high and our people fantastic. In fact, I met our brilliant Indian team a few weeks ago, and I’m looking forward to working with the amazing talent we have across all of our APAC offices.”


Ms Pattison, who will be succeeded in the UK CEO role by Nick Baughan, currently the MD, joined Maxus in October 2009 in the newly created position of CEO to drive the Maxus brand to a new level, both in the UK and as part of the global management team. In August 2012, she was named as the new Global Chief Strategy Officer for Maxus, working alongside her duties in the UK. She would take direct responsibility for global planning, data and insights, digital, marketing and new business functions.


Ms Pattison is involved with industry events and is now a member of the WEF Global Agenda Council on the Future of Media, sits on the WACL Exec committee and has contributed to events including the Facebook Influencer Summit and Google Zeitgeist.


Prior to Maxus, she worked at PHD for five years and in media for over 18 years. Ms Pattison has also worked client-side at Sony Ericsson, after starting out at Young & Rubicam in a full-service environment.


When she was in India recently, she met with MxMIndia briefly and spoke of how she had met with clients,understood their aspirations and challenges. The leadership team with her conducted a training programme called the Mating Game and of course she mentioned on Maxus India is a shining star and among the Top 5 globally in revenues.


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