Profile: Kaacon Sethi: The All-Rounder

By Prachi Srivastava , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Media | September 23, 2014
She has worked across sectors, mediums and is today the group chief corporate marketing officer, Dainik Bhaskar. Sethi walks us through her career and the learning at each juncture.

Sethi got into media planning at a time when the industry was male dominated. That did not stop her from growing. Now, after 25 years, she has embarked upon a new journey with Dainik Bhaskar as the group chief corporate marketing officer or CCMO.

Kaacon Sethi

Sethi holds a Master's degree in Economics from Patna University. A flair for communication took her to JWT (then HTA) Kolkata in 1989, where she gave an interview for an account planner's job, but chose to join the media-planning department. "I realised that the advertising money decision is made at the media planning level." She worked on clients like Emami and ITC.

From Kolkata, she moved to Mumbai and worked on Lever's brands. "I took to the job like a fish to water. I could put my point of view forward and back that up not just with thinking about the data, but also humanising that data and look at it in multiple ways."

Ashutosh Srivastava (then media supervisor) was a great influence and she also learnt a lot from Ketaki Gupte (then media director). "Ketaki taught me how to go beyond numbers and actually profile the TG. I started looking at consumers not as numbers, but as people who consume media. Ashutosh taught me how to look at the media plan and end-to-end solutions."

After a stint of four-and-a-half years, she moved to the client side - TOI Response - to work on the B2B aspect. Eleven months later, when she got an offer from Lynn de Souza to head a team, which was pitching for the P&G AoR at Grey, Sethi moved back to planning. She worked with LV Krishnan, Harish Shriyan, and Jasmine Sohrabjee.

"Though we didn't win, it was everything I had imagined when I chose media planning. I learnt how to work in a team. When de Souza was going away in 1995, she nominated me as the media director on the planning side, with Shriyan on the buying side." She learnt a few things about team building too. "The essence of building a great team lies in their ability to contribute to you and your ability to contribute to them."

Six months down the line, Sethi made another switch. Along came the opportunity to head ad sales of a new channel, Sony (the Hindi GEC) and she moved. "The way we were communicating on the B2C side was completely new and I imbibed thinking of the work I had done on P&G and Lever," she says.

Sethi was also involved in the launch of Sony Max as its business head. Soon after, Sethi took a break for two years. When she resumed work, she decided to leverage her entertainment background and went to work with Ram Gopal Varma's K Sera Sera as CEO. While Varma, the creative force, was a great pull, the way the promoters wanted to structure it appealed to her.

After quitting K Sera Sera, she started producing TV shows. In 2008, Probal Ganguly, Tapan Pal and Sethi launched MediaSys Solutions, a company for marketing and selling media facing products.

Post that, de Souza offered Sethi the chance to head the branded content division at Lintas Media Group and she took it up but quit following the many structural changes that IPG was going through. Her children too were growing up then. "I decided not to start looking for another full-time job but short term engagement models," she says.

She joined Smaaash Entertainment (as a consultant from August, 2013-February, 2014), a new space that had some key variables she had never dealt with before. The task was to drive footfalls everyday from different kinds of audiences. She also worked with Indigo, a shopper marketing consulting firm.

Print was the only medium missing from her portfolio. Now, with this job at Dainik Bhaskar, it is complete.

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