Anant Rangaswami
Nov 19, 2010

Opinion: "In a people business, ensure focus on people": Anant Rangaswami

Anant Rangaswami talks about the value of viewing one's time in an organisation as a career rather than a job. Among other things, of course.


During the past month, we learned of the promotions (or appointments) of Ajay Chacko as the president of AETN18 Media, Anil Uniyal as as CEO, CNBC-TV18 and CNBC AWAAZ, and Dilip Ventkatraman as CEO, CNN-IBN.

There’s an extraordinary story in these announcements.

There’s a story of talent-spotting, of mentoring, of skill-enhancement, of reward and of retention.

For any organization in media and advertising to grow, the fundamental task is to get perfect people into place.

All of us have seen Network18 – from the day it was just a single channel, nowhere near a network with a lower case ‘n’, let alone one with a capitalised one.

I’ve seen the organisation grow, up close and personal. Haresh Chawla, B Saikumar and I were colleagues at The Times of India. They left to join TV18, I left to join TBWA\Anthem. When CNBC-TV18 was launched, thanks to the personal relationship, TBWA\Anthem handled the account.

And Haresh Chawla and Sai Kumar are still with the orgranisation that they joined then. Archana Karulkar, who looked after the administration needs of a small TV station, was in charge of their fledging operations at Recondo Millls Compound when the channel started; she’s still there, today, as vice president, operations, Network 18. Senthil Chengalvarayan joined shortly after; he’s very much a part of the Network today. Zubin Driver, who was the creative director and a colleague of mine at TBWA\Anthem and who oversaw the CNBCTV18 account, quit the agency and joined CNBC to start ‘the cell’, a creative studio incubated by CNBCTV18. He’s still there, doing Spartan work in the OAP department and creating communication for the channels as and when he is called upon to do so.

What makes all of them stay? In the last five years, as media exploded and talent was in short supply, all of them must have been inundated with offers.

What makes them stay is, simply, the fact that their jobs have kept changing. While all of them continue to be with the organisation, they have been given new responsibilities, they have been promoted, they have been recognized and rewarded. Each of them has seen other colleagues benefit from continuing to work in the organisation. There is no ceiling that is visible. If an Ajay Chacko could believe that he could, in a few years, be sitting in Sai Kumar’s seat, so could an Anil Uniyal believe that he could sit in Ajay’s.

They all saw that they had careers with the organisation, not jobs.There’s a massive gulf between the two.

If they got offers from other companies, there was no apples to apples comparison; they were being offered jobs vis-à-vis the career prospects that they had by staying with the organization.

That’s why a new announcement by any of the various components of Network 18 never surprise me.

Network 18 is not alone; there are more who’ve got their act together. If GroupM rushes forward at a furious pace, it’s because professionals at GroupM’s various companies believe, thanks to Vikram Sakhuja, that they have bright and long futures with the Group if they deliver and stay with the organisation. There’s transparency in both rewards and punishments, and the road to growth is not made difficult by political obstacles.

The advantage that accrues to the organisations when they have long-standing and loyal senior management professionals is that, whenever they pitch for new business, each one of the key people presented is seen by the prospective client/partner as someone who has been with the organisation for a significant length of time – and is likely to stay on in the critical first months/years of a new relationship.There’s so much to learn from organisations such as these two. On the surface, they seem successful at what they do because they have the knowhow and wherewithal to be successful.

Scratch the surface and you see that they succeed because of the people they have – and because they know how to identify, hire, recognise, reward and retain them.

Campaign India

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