David Ogilvy used the Russian dolls to illustrate and spread his message and philosophy, within the agency that he had founded; if you hire people smaller than you, you will be a company of dwarfs. However, if you hire people bigger than you, you will become an agency of giants.
I cannot think of a better example within the Ogilvy network that lived this belief and was in fact an agency of giants - Ogilvy India, under the stewardship of Ranjan Kapur.
He had huge shoes to step in to, when he took charge of the India operations. SR (Mani) Aiyer was a legend.
But soon, Ranjan won the hearts and wallets of his clients. With his passion for the brand of each client in the agency's roster. He knew all that there was to know about the client's customer, category, competition, business and brand. And could hold his own point of view with passion and knowledge. Aided by insights. He lived and breathed brands. And was an enviable partner for, both, the client and the creative teams.
Ranjan was a giant, in his own right. But unlike most leaders who consider their senior management as threat or competition, Ranjan built a company of giants, by hiring and retaining giants. Roda Mehta, the undisputed queen of Media. R Sridhar, the father of direct marketing in India, Piyush Pandey, the creative genius, were the more visible faces. Ably supported and strengthened by the likes of Mohan Menon, Achin Ganguly and Chintamani Rao. All under one roof, one agency, at one time. How many agencies could boast of such a strong line up, then, or more so, today!
Ranjan encouraged, motivated and inspired a pipeline of talent, to join this roster of giants. Vijay Bhat, Sanjeev Lamba, Preeta Singh, Harish Vasudevan, Krishna Mohan, Vibha Desai, Madhukar Sabnavis, Pratap Bose, Dalveer Singh...those were the days!
He gave equal weightage to business, finance and creative, thereby in later years giving birth to the term "three legged stool" that led Ogilvy India, comprising Piyush, Rane and himself.
I was fortunate to be a "student" in Ranjan's leadership team. With an opportunity to observe and learn, surrounded by these Giants. The youngest executive director, I was told, and as a member of the agency's executive committee. He entrusted and empowered me to grow a Financial Practice for Ogilvy. And in later years also take lead of Ogilvy PR.
Ranjan, you created an institution. And many torch bearers who went forth to spread the word across the industry.
Today, we remember you. Today, we miss you. And shall continue to do so. For having touched our lives. For having blessed our lives.
(The author is CMO, Aditya Birla Capital)