afaqs!

Defining Moments: Simi Sabhaney: Master Balancer

By Prachi Srivastava , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | May 14, 2014
Simi Sabhaney, CEO, Dentsu Communications, feels she could make for a first class trapeze artiste. Here, she shares a few defining moments from her life.

Simi Sabhaney

Chance moments, deliberate moments, big moments, small moments, pleasant moments, not-so-pleasant moments... they are all partially or wholly guilty of shaping a person.

When I look back, there are some moments which flash into my mind. They are rather vivid, so they must be important.

I remember mothering my brother, who is two and a half years younger than me. We both were in the same school. Checking out on him during lunch hour was an everyday routine for me, for his first few years at school. Little did I know that this act of playing the role of a responsible elder sister was fuelling my nurturing instinct, something that is almost a core ingredient of my personality, today.

Operation Bluestar impacted many lives, including mine. I was in my final year in GCG, Chandigarh. The chaos in Punjab delayed our results. I had intended to do my post-graduation from the Delhi University but the admission had closed by the time the Punjab University announced its results.

A New Course

I was determined not to lose a year but didn't quite have a plan. One particular afternoon, after some binge shopping at Janpath, I decided to take a bus back home. Just then I spotted this institute called Centre for Mass Media.

It happened to be the last day for submission of forms for Mass Communication. Before I knew I had filled the form, got through the written test and the interview round and there I was from nursing a dream of becoming an IAS Officer to pursuing a career in advertising! Last month into the course and I was sent to Clarion Advertising for a project on coffees. Well, my project report earned me a job with them, a day after I completed the Mass Communication course! Felt blessed, even though the stipend was not even enough to make an offering to Nirula's every week! Thus began my eventful journey in advertising.

After my marriage, I moved to Bangalore and started looking for a job. Approached Ogilvy but was shooed away from the reception itself, "Boss is busy and we have no openings for account executive". That was a blow to my ego.

Balancing Act

I then joined Everest for all of two days. Both the days, I returned home just before the milkman rang the bell! My husband was certain that this was not the life he wanted us to lead. So, I promptly put in my papers and decided that I needed to figure out a way of 'balancing' life. I needed to be home by 6 pm, so that I could have a life beyond office. Now, that's a tall ask for a young account executive in advertising. I hibernated for six months, too scared to approach any agency with a track record of two days! Finally collected guts and met MAA Communications. Collected even more guts and added that I would be unable to work beyond 6pm. I quickly assured them that the 'jobs for the day' would be completed before my Cinderella hour.

This is how I learnt the art of fostering interpersonal relationships and honed my negotiation skills. I had cracked the concept of 'balancing'. I could make for a first class trapeze artiste! And then I received a call from Ogilvy. Brooke Bond coffee brands had decided to move to Ogilvy from MAA Communications. This was the start of my long innings of 23 years with Ogilvy.

But, suddenly, I started feeling there was something that I was blocking out of my life. Was I blocking out 'change'? A few days of living with this uncomfortable, restless feeling and the phone rings, "Rohit from Dentsu would like to meet you," and I heard myself say, "Yes, I would like to meet him too".

Half an hour into the meeting and I had made up my mind. I knew I was ready to explore the unknown. And here I am, all of two-and-a-half months old in Dentsu.

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