Kishore Chakraborti is set to retire from McCann Erickson, ending his long association with the company on July 31. Chakraborti joined McCann Kolkata in 1994. He moved to the corporate office in Delhi as vice president, consumer insight and HFD (Human Futures Development) in 2003, and will be retiring from the same position.
While churning was happening in the industry, there were a very few people to learn from, as everyone was experiencing the change and adjusting to it. During this time Chakraborti was given the responsibility to set up the Nepal office. He considers that as one of the most exciting and educating time in his career. "I was handling things in a foreign land, learning the language, the rules of the land and integrating customs and culture," he shares, adding that Nepal, at that time, was way behind India in terms of advertising and also technology. During the day, Chakraborti was the branch head liaising with local agencies, faxing the briefs and creatives to the Kolkata office, while arranging the films from either Delhi or Mumbai. He reminisces how he would spend a large part of his day at a phone booth, waiting for a fax to arrive. At night, he was the accountant working on cash flows and balance sheets!
Chakraborti thinks that this stint not only enriched him as a creative person, but also honed his business skills. Looking back, he says, "My life and time at McCann can be divided into three phases. In Kolkata, I was a purely an advertising person, then I became an administrator and business manager in Nepal, and finally a trainer on my return."
When Chakraborti returned to Kolkata from Nepal in 2002, the "tools and techniques of the trade had changed." There was more international exposure and, as the associate vice president and general manger. He had to quickly imbibe and implement the global learning. Moving to Delhi in 2003, he started training the new-comers, simultaneously discovering the teacher in him. Chakraborti has, since then, taught at leading management institutes in Delhi, Bengaluru, Mumbai and Pune. This includes the IIMs as well. He is also a columnist and has written for various media and advertising sites, and publications like Asian Age, The Financial Express and Business Standard.
Chakraborti credits his learning to advertising in a big way. Running the consumer insight vertical mandated his deep involvement in research and also gave him a chance to travel extensively. It gave him a vision of the post-globalisation India which was changing, not just in the cities, but also rurally. He closely studied people at the grassroots, their entrepreneurial inclinations, rural innovations, maturing panchayats and also the retail revolution. Chakraborti opines that, while all these developments look disconnected, a consistent pattern emerges on a deeper enquiry. "With the invasion of global brands, Indian culture has been struggling to maintain its own identity, while accommodating everything. This is still going on," he states.
"Advertising gives you a chance to look closely at life. It doesn't talk of lofty ideals, does not say 'aap mahaan bano' (You must become great). Rather, it lends meaning to our daily life, telling us that it's also important to remove that stain from the shirt, to dress up smartly and to have tasty food," adds Chakraborti.
In 2012, Chakraborti launched his book, titled 'The listening Eyes', that provides an insight into how people live and struggle to cope with various changes. Currently, he is working on a second literary offering which also aims to decode the Indian consumer. The book, which will be on stands by the end of this year, is a Business Standard publication and will be a compilation of all the above lessons.
Chakraborti now plans to spend more time with his family, books and some Indian classical music. He will continue teaching and writing, and will also take up independent research or projects for consultation, but all "at his own pace."