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Profile - Debraj Tripathy: The people-oriented planner

By Anushree Bhattacharyya , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Media | February 15, 2011
Tripathy, who holds a BE degree in electrical engineering, feels that working on the Unilever account at Ogilvy was one of the biggest learning experiences.

It was while studying for his management degree at IIM Kolkata in 1992 that Debraj Tripathy decided to become a media planner. "I was fascinated with media planning. Also Roda Mehta (of O&M) was a huge influence on me. I was the only one at the time of campus placement to join media and advertising." Interviewed by Sanjay Nayak (then with O&M, and now, president of McCann Worldgroup) on campus, he jumped at the chance and joined Ogilvy, where he stayed for a decade.

Tripathy, who holds a BE degree in electrical engineering, feels that working on the Unilever account at Ogilvy was one of the biggest learning experiences. According to him, the international exposure (he also worked on the IBM account) at such an early stage in his career was an eye opener. He shares, "It helped me groom myself for the business of media." From Ogilvy, he moved to GroupM where he worked for four years as general manager, Maxus, shuffling between Bengaluru and Mumbai.

His next job switch was to Sieger Solutions (Deccan Chronicle's ad sales arm) as CEO, for a short while. Within three months, he was appointed as the managing director, but left and moved to OnMobile soon after, in order to explore new avenues. Says Tripathy, "Mobile and VAS are the fast growing sectors in India. I have worked on traditional media during my tenure at Ogilvy and GroupM, but I wanted to learn the tricks of this new platform." After working at OnMobile for two years, from 2007-2009, Tripathy took a year off in 2010 to explore the possibilities of a start-up.

Calling it one of the best years of his professional life, Tripathy says that the break gave him the chance to explore many new areas. "In that one year, I got the chance to enhance my skills through reading and learning about new concepts. I used the time to think about what I wanted to do next," says he.

At Mediacom, Tripathy has only one agenda in mind, which he plans to put it into action soon. He explains, "In the media industry, people move frequently from one company to another, and the turnover is high. For the next couple of months, I will concentrate upon nurturing people. If my manpower is in place, the business will be automatically taken care of. In the media business, talent is one of the key pillars which can make or break a company."

Respecting talent and talented people is something Tripathy learnt when very young, thanks to Mrs and Mr Ambrose, his teachers in Stewart School, Bhubaneswar. "They taught me to appreciate and respect honest hard work."