Defining Moments: Lynn de Souza: Down Memory Lane

By Biprorshee Das , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Media | February 23, 2011
Lintas Media Group's chairman and chief executive officer, Lynn de Souza says how each moment in her life and career has been defining and very significant.

Every little moment in her three-decade long career has been significant enough to make her the person she is today, insists Lynn de Souza, chairperson and chief executive officer, Lintas Media Group.

I like to believe that every moment in my life is a defining one. It is not the big, but the little things that make you. They cumulatively create who you are, just like a beautiful string of pearls.

During my MBA course at the Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies, professors Tarun Gupta and Vinita Bali advised me to get into advertising. Guest speaker, Roda Mehta, also fascinated me. After passing out in 1983, I joined Roda, at Ogilvy. There was very little media planning then. In fact, we started it. Roda taught us the science of media and numbers.

My next destination was Trikaya (now Grey India), then a small agency, yet different from the pack. It encouraged you to be outstanding at whatever you did. At Trikaya, I was sent abroad for training where I learnt the concept of media buying. On returning to India, I initiated it here. It was a first in India. Sam Balsara also started the same, but at the level of a business professional. I was just a practitioner.

We went to Johnson & Johnson and told them that we were going to consolidate all its buying and will do a good job. Lintas was the other agency on the account, but we bagged the business. We were like a small kid on the block, saying, "We will show you". That was great fun and also a turning point for the industry.

In 1995, I joined Lintas. The job was the same, to set up Initiative Media, which was launched on August 16, 1995. A few years later, I took a sabbatical from media to study veterinary nursing in Australia. After returning, I worked in integrated marketing at Lintas. After a while, in 2003, when I returned to media planning, we had lost our top three accounts of LG, Britannia and ICICI Prudential. That was really defining because we went ahead to try and get additional businesses. We got the entire Bajaj and Maruti businesses. We used the losses to review our product and re-crafted the agency.

Last year, IPG asked me to set up a women's network for IPG agencies in India. We did, branding it 'Equal and Opposite'. We try to get men understand women better, and to bring out the best in each other, in the agencies, and hopefully, in the industry as well. Ours is a male-dominated industry. As vice-president of the AAAI, and being a woman, I hope to make a difference as women infuse a different set of values and behaviour. We - the women - play as a team.

Some of my colleagues who inspired me are Josy Paul at Ogilvy and Christopher D'Rozario at Trikaya. Piyush Pandey has been an inspiration because he is so humane. He epitomises creativity and excellence, but never forgets to be in touch with reality. The person who made the biggest impact in my life would be Ravi Gupta (founder, Trikaya). He died too young. It helps when in your late 20s, you are trying to define yourself, and a man like him comes along and just lets you be. You are in a structured environment, but he lets you do what you want, make your own mistakes and learn. Very few people are like that.

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