It's been 34 years, but Indrajit Sen, president, projects at Laqshya Media, is still taken up with his work. Sen has worked across locations in India and abroad in industries like garment manufacturing, technology, print media and, eventually, the outdoor business. Here he shares a few of his defining moments.
The first big moment came when I had to make a choice between a career in politics and one as a professional. This was in college and I had just led our students' union to a very successful agitation for increased participation in management of the institute. I was offered the No 2 position on the national executive of the student's wing of the ruling political party by the head of the organisation, who became a close friend.
I later happened to work with a family-owned group of businesses. Here I was given the responsibility of setting up a greenfield project to manufacture 'button-cells' with technical collaboration from an American company. This project had all possible complications - industrial licensing at the peak of the Licensing Raj, RBI clearances for foreign exchange and import licenses.
The only positive was the location - Gandhinagar in Gujarat. And, for the first time, I came across a state industry development system that was totally professional, honest and ethical to the core. The project didn't last for long, since the American company actually folded up before the technology transfer could be completed. But setting up a national marketing and sales network for a widely distributed consumer product was a great and lasting experience.
Another important phase in my life was with The Times of India Group as Response head in Ahmedabad for seven years and then in Chennai for three years before eventually moving to Mumbai. I had the privilege to be part of a charmed team that made a success of everything they managed - The Times of India (TOI), The Economic Times, Femina and Filmfare. All of these became iconic brands during this time, under the most able tutelage of Samir Jain, Pradeep Guha and Bhaskar Das. Bhaskar was my immediate boss (at Response) and mentor.
While at TOI, AG Krishnamurthy (the legendary adman who started Mudra) called me to join him in revivng their outdoor division. In mid-2000, I decided to shift to Mumbai to take over a loss-making division, Primesite, that was barely acknowledged as a part of the otherwise successful Mudra. It took two years to wipe out the losses.
In the third year, Primesite - which was by then next in line after Ogilvy Landscape and neck-to-neck with Portland - won and executed the largest launch campaign handled in outdoor. It was for Reliance Mobile. It was not a conventional outdoor campaign but we extended the branding to signage and executed it across lakhs of retail outlets in 18 states.
My defining moments have taught me that there are no shortcuts - not in life in general and definitely not in the workplace.
As told to Surina Sayal.