Sanjeev Kotnala: Think we need ‘Young Talent’ quota in industry associations

09 Sep,2015

By Sanjeev Kotnala


‘Quota’ is in the air and you can shout out the word loudly without being in a minority. It is time that we take this opportunity for pushing something selfless in our agenda.


Before you get me wrong, here is the disclaimer. My focus is to appreciate the relentless selfless industry service by a set of people in advertising and marketing industry bodies. These men and women of exceptional calibre have given their best years to it. They have magically been able to find time to do all this pro bono. They have sacrificed their family and at times professional life at the altar of the responsibilities they hold. They have time and again leveraged their personal network to add meaning to industry events. My head bows in deep respect. I sincerely appreciate their effort.


My humble proposition is to ensure some succession plan for the legacy to bear fruits. It’s vital to plan to groom and later hand over the baton to the next generation.  Hopefully, it will truly reflect the industry’s growing youth composition. In the process we may get to invite new thoughts, ideas and energies and may redesign the whole agenda. I know this is a wishful thinking.


No, I do not have any issue with the current set of officebearers. In fact in last three years we have seen a lot more action and inclusiveness in the processes, events and working at all the main industry bodies. Three cheers to that! Yet, I don’t know why but it always seemed like a game of musical chairs is being played.


I am sure it is not a reflection of dearth of talent and potential leaders in the industry. There always are people with enough suicidal streaks to love to take on position that only brings in criticism. It takes a lot more of you than it can ever give you back.


Positions like chairman, president, treasurer and secretary need experience and proven performance. They magically remain uncontested. But even at the cost of reframing and expanding the base, industry bodies may look at a quota for Under-30 and 30-40 years of age for executive members. We may consider even years of relevant experience as qualifier. Which could works better. In fact the voyeuristic b*****d in me is panting to see elections fought for these positions.


The young leaders will get groomed and battle-scarred. They will learn by taking small opportunities and challenges providing for smooth change of guard at a later date.  There are not many young leaders who are interested in this call for selfless dedicated work. May be quotas will enthuse them to join in. Many after experiencing the brickbats and ‘no thanks’ that comes with that will drop out.  The ones who stand by this test by fire shall be the ones who will help take the industry bodies further.


Sanjeev Kotnala is Founder and Head Catalyst at Intradia. A brand, marketing and management advisor, he conducts specialised workshops in the area of IDEATION (Harvest and Liberate) and Innovation (InNoWait). His focus energy in enhancing client’s internal team’s potential and capabilities and in the process, decreasing their dependence on external resources. To contact email  or tweet at s_kotnala visit The views expressed here are his own.




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