CVL Srinivas: Learning along the way

By Nandana Das , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Media Planning & Buying | April 05, 2011
Beginning his career as a mechanical engineer, Srinivas never thought he would end up with a job in a media agency - and what's more, start loving it.

This mechanical engineer from Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS), Pilani, never thought he would end up with a job in a media agency, and moreover, love it. But, that is what CVL Srinivas did.

It was while working with the TVS Group, Bengaluru (then Bangalore), that he thought of going ahead and arming himself with an MBA from XLRI Jamshedpur in 1993. It was a "hunger to do things that are challenging and different" that was constantly bothering him.

That degree transformed his career. He joined Fulcrum (then HTA Fulcrum and later Mindshare Fulcrum), and got to know the media industry for the first time. Srinivas considers himself fortunate enough to have worked on Unilever, handling the food and personal care portfolio.

He moved to Madison after five years to run the Bengaluru office. He recalls pitching for and eventually winning the Coca Cola business and considers it to be the big high in his career graph. For the first time, a global company handed its media business to a local agency wanting to become a more local brand.

Madison grew further with Bengaluru and Delhi picking up a lot of big businesses such as BPL, Maruti Suzuki, Perfetti, Dominos and ABN-AMRO.

"Earlier, everybody considered Madison to be a Mumbai-based agency, but I kind of helped it spread its wings beyond," says Srinivas.

"If Fulcrum was all about Unilever and about the best media practices, Madison was getting to know about media as a business," he remarks.

Working with Sam Balsara proved to be enriching and helped him shape his career better.

He then moved to GroupM to head Maxus, being offered the job by Andre Nair, GroupM's South Asia head. It was a challenge, with Maxus being a sister agency of Mindshare and not enough attention being paid to it.

Srinivas set about the job of making it an independent media brand, moving out of the Mindshare shadow, and putting to test all other skills picked up over the years.

Joining as CEO, Maxus India, he moved out in 2007 as CEO, Maxus, Asia-Pacific. Today, the India-born agency is a global brand with offices in the US and the UK, as well.

Wanting to explore newer areas, Srinivas then moved out of media agencies.

"I cannot do the same job for long and need to constantly confront challenges and be thrown into all kinds of new situations," says Srinivas.

He worked as a consultant to a host of start-ups in the digital space, and a few private equity funds that showed interest in the media sector. He also did a two-year-stint with The Times of India as director, private treaties division.

An interaction with the Starcom MediaVest Group (SMG) leadership and Laura Desmond, global CEO, SMG, led to another twist in the story. Srinivas found Desmond's vision extremely futuristic.

At Starcom MediaVest, Srinivas has a two-fold role. As the chairman, he oversees the Indian operations. He also has to work with his co-workers to infuse quality talent into the organisation and up the momentum to take SMG India ahead.

Srinivas is also the managing director of LiquidThread, a digital-led agency in the business of audience aggregation and content development. Launched by SMG globally last year, LiquidThread is now being rolled out in the Asia-Pacific region. Content excites Srinivas, along with his hunger for working with growing businesses. "I prefer jobs that require thinking out of the box," he concludes.

(Profile is a regular column which peeps into the career paths of senior advertising, media and marketing professionals who are currently in the news.)

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