Defining Moments: Sunil Lulla: The Entrepreneur

By Raushni Bhagia , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Media Publishing | January 28, 2014
Sunil Lulla, recently elevated as president, corporate development at BCCL says that he has always been feeling like an entrepreneur since he has got the freedom to work at all the organisations he has joined. Looking back at his 30-year long career, Lulla picks the milestones.

In 1984, after my management degree from SP Jain, I joined Forbes Campbell & Co, which was run by a young man called Ratan Tata. I used to work with their liquor business as head of sales for west region.

Sunil Lulla

More than my journey, I think the credit must go to the people who shaped me into the person that I am today. My 'official' career started in 1985 with J Walter Thomson, when I worked on personal healthcare products including Sunsilk and Lux. The client there, V Kasturirangan was a demanding and aggressive person. It was compulsory to tour the markets, speak to women and understand what they used for their hair. Those early days built in me great respect for the consumer and understanding of the brand. We went down south and tried to understand why women wanted to use certain flowers in their hair; in the north we had to understand why women wanted so much oil in their hair.


Another defining moment came in when I was working with HMV. At 30, I became a part of the management team and was responsible for buying content and marketing it. The company was in the red and we had to turn it around. We tried reworking the operations, repackaged HMV's old catalogue and released them as premium products and it worked!

That left in me a taste of general management. It was an important platform, not very large and not at the front edge of the professional horizon but the company had a strong management staff and the people had great conviction. Pradip Chanda was the CEO and I give him credit for that exposure.


From 1996-1999 came MTV. My tenure there was overseeing the transition of a heavily American channel to a successful Indian product. It was a young and bright team, and the channel had cult positioning. The country was changing, liberalisation was starting, the economy was changing and mobile phones had just come in. Communication was about to change.

It was important to see how you want to liberate India from the usual and that was what MTV was trying and it was a very good approach. I am glad to have contributed. Channel V was a stiff competitor then.

Moving on happened to me next. It was an internet venture with big investment from the Murdoch family. I think it was a fantastic option to raise money and I am glad even today I am in touch with many people from I can see at least 100 entrepreneurs having emerged from that platform.

Post that, I started my foray with broadcast television and Sony was the first. Star was a dominant player in those days and Zee and Sony were languishing at the bottom. I think Star had some 250-260 GRPs, Sony and Zee used to do about 25-30 GRPs, each. I brought shows like Jassi Jaisi Koi Nahi and Indian Idol - Sony's revenues went up four times and viewership went up six-fold.

I have been here (Times Television Network) since 2005.

, Movies Now and, very recently, Romedy Now. We could take the channels to about 50 countries and still see growth.

They want you to feel like an owner and behave like a professional. Strategically, I am fortunate to be a part of a bigger group. You get to leverage a large number of other assets and co-promote your brands on say, Times Of India. In times like these, which are tough, it's a group like BCCL who can flex muscles.

Search Tags