Profile: Indranil Datta: The Team Man

By Sumantha Rathore , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Media | April 29, 2011
The recently appointed marketing head of Sakaal Media Group talks about his own journey so far.

"I am a very impatient person," confesses Indranil Datta, head, marketing, Sakaal Media Group. He has already etched out his retirement plans and wants to settle down in the Dutch colony of Galle, Sri Lanka. Away from the hustle-bustle of the city, he'd like to go fishing with friends and soak in the island culture thoroughly. Retirement for him, however, is still some time away. As of now, he has a job to finish.

The Datta of now is different from the Datta at school, though he was always up to something. He recalls his school days when most of the time somebody else had to pay a price for his mischief. "So, you can see I was not very popular," he smiles.

He graduated in Economics from Jadavpur University. It was a subject that he tried his best to understand, "but failed miserably". However, he was sure of one thing -- that he wanted to be in the media business. After completing his MBA from Bharati Vidyapeeth, Pune, he joined Draftfcb Ulka (then Ulka Advertising). "It was a stroke of luck. One of my uncles was a client of Ulka. And, it rarely happens in advertising that you turn down a request from a client," laughs Datta.

It was during his days at Ulka Advertising that he found some excellent colleagues who later became firm friends. "Ulka was a family with a bunch of happy people. Being a part of that family was a great high for me." Also, by that time, he figured out that this was the only profession where there was no need to wear a necktie in order to look sincere.

For an agency person, reveals Datta, there's nothing like a successful conversion. However, even if you don't win, it is a great opportunity to learn about a category or client that you don't handle currently. Having patiently been in advertising for two decades, Datta decided to jump across the fence and join a media company. It would be, he felt, a far more accountable and challenging job. "You're expected to contribute in a larger context. You're not just accountable for communication success, but also for the success of the brand. So, the shift was quite logical."

The turning point in his life came during his association with Lowe Lintas (then Lintas Group) where he got an opportunity to work on the much coveted HUL accounts. Later, he was exposed to the business side of media when setting up Zenith Media in Delhi. The grind of going through a startup was the kind of tonic he relished. He has also spent time with Starcom Worldwide, Bengaluru, Mudra Max and Mudra Radar (formerly known as Optimum Media Solutions), and Bates Asia Strategic Alliances, Colombo (that's the Galle connection).

His decision to join Sakaal Media Group was driven by Abhijit Pawar, the managing director. "I was quite taken in by the enthusiasm and passion he demonstrated in all my earlier meetings. He is full of ideas and willing to take risks to implement those ideas," he says. Datta, who has been a consultant to Sakaal since his days in Mudra Max, found a lot of fascinating things about this group. For now, Datta wants to take a "deep dive" into Sakaal's portfolio of brands.

When not working, Datta enjoys stimulating conversations with his close friends, especially those from college. In April every year, Datta meets his college friends in Mumbai for two days. "This is an annual event when we make it a point to meet. It is interesting to see in those two days, that while we changed in terms of how we look, we still can connect as a bunch of free-spirited youth."

His word of advice to youngsters in the media space is that in a country with a billion people, intelligence is a commodity that can last only for one meeting, and that too, till the first one. Teamwork lasts forever.

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

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