Profile: Kavitha Srinivasan: The Mahout

By Ashwini Gangal , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | December 09, 2011
Kavitha Srinivasan begins her second stint at Mindshare, the GroupM-promoted media planning and buying agency. She takes afaqs! through her career so far.

Kavitha Srinivasan has recently started her second stint at Mindshare, the GroupM-promoted media planning and buying agency. In her new role as partner, client leadership, her mandate requires her to lead the agency's southern operations, including offices across Chennai, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh. Srinivasan has, all through her work-life, been in Chennai.

Srinivasan completed her graduation in BBM from Krishnammal College, Coimbatore, and her Master's in Journalism and Mass Communications from PSG College of Arts and Science, Coimbatore. She stepped into the advertising industry in 1995 by taking up a client servicing role at a small agency called Anugrah Marketing & Advertising Services (now Anugrah Madison Advertising). This was around the time of the IPO boom, and the agency had just begun working with clients in the financial services industry.

After working as a strategic client servicing executive for six months, Srinivasan's role at the agency underwent a change. "R V Rajan (chairman and managing director) felt that I will be a better fit in the media side of things. I, too, was fascinated with the new role. This is how my career in media started."

As a media executive at the agency, Srinivasan learnt about the operational part of media, lessons that helped her immensely in her career later on. At Anugrah, Srinivasan fondly recalls working on rural communication for the Philips account and also on Karur Vysya Bank. "At Anugrah, a medium-sized agency, I mastered all the divisions of media, ops(operations), planning, and buying. It was here that I built a strong foundation in media," she recalls.

After five years at Anugrah, Srinivasan moved as a media planner to the in-house agency of Thomson Consumer Electronics called Renaissance Advertising, in 2000. "I was, for the first time, exposed to big clients with big ad and media spends," says Srinivasan. After eight months, the Thomson account moved to TME. Sure enough, Srinivasan moved with it, based on client recommendation. "This was a nice feeling, it gave me an insight into how critical good client servicing is," she says.

At TME, besides Thomson, Srinivasan handled media planning for the Citibank account. In 2002, she moved as media group head to Lintas Media Group's (LMG) newly-launched arm Interactions, where she handled the Reynolds account and part of Sara Lee TTK. "At Interactions," she says, "my insights into strategic planning became deeper."

After a year, Srinivasan began her first stint at Mindshare in July 2004 as business manager, and was in charge of brands such as Ford, Parry's Confectionery (now Lotte India), Lifestyle, Nippo Batteries, Roca, and Pondicherry Tourism.

In four years, she moved up from business manager to business director. As co-head of Mindshare's Chennai office, she pioneered the move into Coimbatore for brands such as Kirtilals and Xenos Technologies. In 2008, Srinivasan took a sabbatical and got back onto the work circuit in August 2009, with a consultancy role at Lodestar UM, a post she held until March 2010, after which she joined OMD as a consultant, and later, became the GM (general manager). "The challenge at OMD was to handle the existing accounts of Henkel and Roca, and pull in newer businesses," says Srinivasan. She was instrumental in winning Venus Home Appliances, Sify and Pudhiya Thalaimurai (a Tamil news channel from SRM University).

From OMD, Srinivasan moved back to Mindshare in September 2011. Among her mentors, Srinivasan names R Seshadri (Anugrah) from whom she learnt the basics of client servicing, Lalita Menon (TME), Sudha Natrajan (LMG), Subramanian Swaminathan (Mindshare), and Gita Ram and Jasmin Sohrabji from OMD.

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