HTA is in the midst of its biggest churning in years. First Sunil Gupta, senior vice-president and general manager, HTA, Mumbai put in his papers. Next, Ivan Arthur, national creative director, has gone on 'a long and indefinite leave'. All this happened over the last weekend and in the absence of agency honcho Mike Khanna who is currently in London and is scheduled to return only next year. He is expected to make an announcement through an email message today.
Gupta confirmed to agencyfaqs! that he put in his papers on Friday (December 14) and would be returning to Delhi either in January 2002 or in April/May next year. "I would be handing over charge to my successor in Mumbai in early January, though I would be associated with the agency till April (2002). Thereafter, I plan to start my own outfit with my wife (Sunita) who is also a qualified communications professional," he said.
The question uppermost in everybody's mind is: Why did Sunil Gupta put in his papers? After heading the Delhi branch, he had shifted in 1999 to oversee the Mumbai branch after incumbent Anil Bhatia passed away. With that move, it was widely speculated that Gupta would take over from chief executive Mike Khanna when he retired in 2003. Question No 2: Who will take charge after Gupta?
Information available with agencyfaqs! indicates Gupta perhaps lost out in the race for the hot seat. Senior industry professionals, who are closely associated with HTA's Mumbai branch, say that Kamal Oberoi, senior vice-president and general manager, as well as the head of HTA's Delhi operations, was identified for promotion about three months ago. Which perhaps led to a clash of sorts. As things stand now, Oberoi will proceed to Mumbai in January to don the mantle of chief operating officer (or some similar designation). He will then be ideally positioned to take over from Mike in March 2003. However, there is one more angle to the story in the form of Ambar Brahmachari (who is heading JWT, Japan), whose name keeps cropping up as a prospective successor. Incidentally, word is also out that Ivan Arthur, national creative director, HTA, has been "asked to go on leave."
So, what next? agencyfaqs! spoke to several current and ex-HTA hands in Mumbai to conclude the scenario in the immediate future might be something like this. Jagdeep Bakshi, currently head of HTA's Bangalore branch would be deputed to oversee the Mumbai branch in January; Tarun Rai, head of Kolkata, will proceed to Delhi to take charge of the branch's operations after Kamal Oberoi shifts base; and Rohit Ohri, vice-president and client services director, who is now based in Delhi, would be sent across to take over the reigns of HTA, Kolkata.
No confirmation, however, was available from the hopefuls as HTA offices across the country were closed from Saturday through Monday.
© 2001 agencyfaqs!First Published : December 18, 2001