Defining Moments - How love for Bridge brought Shashi Sinha to advertising

By Biprorshee Das , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Marketing | September 15, 2010
Lodestar UM's Sinha shares with afaqs! key moments in his profession that have shaped his career

It was his love for Bridge that brought Shashi Sinha to advertising. Growing up in Dehradun in the '70s, he wanted to study Economics in Delhi but the insistence of his parents, who thought engineering was a safer option, led to five years in IIT Kanpur and an IIM degree later. The CEO of Lodestar UM picks out some of his defining moments.

Back in 1979, the first major decision I took was not to go to the US (almost everyone else in my batch went abroad after IIT). I did not want to leave the country and secondly, I did not want to pursue engineering.

On moving to advertising: To me, the biggest defining moment was to get into advertising by joining Ulka as an account planner. I did reasonably well in marketing at the UB Group. It was a defining moment because I left a fast track career to move to advertising. Those days, the perks were lower and I actually took a salary cut. Advertising at junior level has never paid as much as marketing does, even today. That decision came while hanging out with friends over Bridge. My friends, who were in advertising, often talked about their work and the nature of the same appealed to me.

Ulka changed hands too many times but I am originally an employee of Ulka. The company changed hands three times and I often joke that I have been a part of the dowry. In the mid-90s, when FCB invested in Ulka, they said that they were not only about creativity but complete solutions. We, at Ulka, had long realised and identified media as a critical area and had built up big capabilities. FCB recognised that. After FCB was taken over by IPG, I was doing multiple jobs - running FCB in Mumbai and looking after the media skill functions.

On moving to media
The next significant moment was in the year 2004-05, I think. After having built up capabilities in India, I was given a regional role to be the media director for the region. I was asked to move to Hong Kong but I insisted on staying in India and making it the media hub of the region. It was a landmark moment when we spun off Lodestar separately, which was earlier the Indian name of FCB Media.

It was a tough decision because advertising has its own charms. There was creativity. Here, there were a lot of numbers. However, the regional assignment was the lure. There were enough success stories then with other media agencies but I was one of the first to get a regional role in India for media.

On the people who influenced him
Amul's Dr Varghese Kurien, Bal Mundkur of Ulka and DraftFCB's CEO, Anil Kapoor come out tops. Bal was a legend. Anil led a huge team. He has had a lasting impression on me. My experiences with Dr Kurien are definitely defining moments simply because while other people talk big, here was a man who actually delivered. When you see what he has done, you get tremendous perspective knowing about his values. I have learnt a lot from him.

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