Profile: Carlton D'Silva: The Reluctant CEO

By Prachi Srivastava , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Digital | May 04, 2015
The CEO of Hungama Digital Services looks back at his 16 year stint with the company, how he landed the job and what his plans are for the agency.

Carlton D'Silva "was too lazy" to pursue art, a passion that he had developed while in school in Panchgani. A career in advertising too happened by accident. "While I was doing my B.Com from Mumbai's St. Andrews College, I started working in an animation studio. At the same time, I was also learning about advertising as a subject. That's when I got attracted to advertising, though my end plan was to get into films," he recalls.

Carlton D'Silva

D'Silva has worked in three companies in his 20-year-long career in advertising. However, his first internship required him to sell pens door-to-door - his stepping stone in the world of sales and marketing.

After he completed his graduation, he joined Internet Resources on a friend's suggestion. "It encompassed whatever I had done in my diploma - print, graphics, multimedia, use of flash and Director and Authorware," he shares.

Internet Resources was later taken over by and the team built a number of websites. "It gave me exposure to brands. People, at that time, knew they wanted to make websites, but didn't know why and how," he recollects.

At Internet Resources, D'Silva used to admire Mustafa Pardiwala (now VP, ShareKhan). "I loved the environment he had created. It was a place you would enjoy working in. That's what I carried with me. If you want an individual to grow, do not keep hovering around him. Give him freedom. Step in when you think it's not being done correctly," he says.

Hungama was a client of Internet Resources. Neeraj Roy (director on the board of HDS - Hungama Digital Services, and founder of Hungama) and Priti Shahani (then head - sales, Hungama) convinced D'Silva to work with Hungama and he agreed. "When I joined Hungama, we started with promotions. We soon realised we needed a solid creative team. In 1999, I was the only creative person there. We then started building the team," he recalls.

D'Silva steered the agency side of things, because he "loved working with brands and coming up with ideas." It has been two years since WPP took over HDS and, moving forward, he is looking at collaborating with sister agencies to offer holistic solutions to clients.
"Because we have evolved in the last 16 years, we can deliver practically anything on the digital space. I also want to build the digital media space. Going forward, I want to focus on fewer businesses, but the right ones," he asserts.

According to D'Silva, Roy is a "very discerning individual." "He always pushed me to do better. Being a CEO now, I am trying to be that way too, because, otherwise, I'm too relaxed with my judgment," he says.

D'Silva was a reluctant CEO. "Initially, I didn't take on the role, as I believed I would lose my creative edge. But, thankfully, backed by an efficient team, I have been able to manage things well."

Having been a part of HDS for 16 years now, his focus is to take it to another level and get it international recognition. "I want individuals to take credit and back their ideas. I want to create a new wave of strategy when it comes to digital and redefine the space of digital, since it's more than just Facebook and Twitter," he states.

About his long stint here, he says, "I didn't see the need to move on and money is not everything. People here are like family. I don't think I want to build teams again and most of the offers were to step in and build teams. I couldn't identify a better company for me to move ahead."

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