Conventional wisdom might suggest you are better off hanging up your boots than starting from scratch in an unfamiliar marketplace at the age of 44. But doing the unexpected is just what stimulates Praveen Tripathi, erstwhile managing director of Starcom India and media effectiveness consultant of late, the most. So, after spending more than two decades in the volatile space of Indian advertising and media Tripathi is headed towards China.
More than a year since his tenure as managing director with the global media agency (now part of the Publicis Groupe) expired, Tripathi is back to where he belongs, which is Starcom. He is strategic planning director for the agency's P&G business in mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan - a posting that sees him based in Guangzhou, southern China.
"I took it up simply because P&G is one client which is analytical and research-based," he says. "Appreciating and rewarding every such effort in media planning as well. They are among a few who recognise the value of planning. And above all, is the client for which I did some of my best work when in India," he adds.
Having moved in to his present position, in the month of September, Tripathi agrees that the task is uphill and the challenge enormous. "I am nowhere near being an expert on the media complexities in China, Taiwan and Honk Kong. However, let me add that having worked in India for more than 20 years, I needed to move to a different marketplace, if only to become a child again, going back to basics and learning about the Chinese market in greater detail."
A veteran in India, Tripathi successfully juggled media, advertising and research with the finesse of an expert, at times, rewriting history. An IIT Kanpur and IIM Ahmedabad alumnus, Tripathi joined Lowe as a management trainee in 1979, becoming its first media recruit in the process.
At Lowe, he was responsible for conceptualising and developing the first-ever computerised media package, LIN-COMPACK, and, at the same time, honing his client servicing skills with Lever brands, Liril, Rexona and Sunlight. He was eventually appointed account supervisor for all Lipton brands at the agency's Kolkata office in 1983, before opting out in 1986.
His next definitive stint was at Marg or Marketing and Research Group where he spent 10 years from 1986 to 1996, accumulating a number of firsts to his credit. These included leading both the NRS 1990 and 1995 studies, establishing the first peoplemeter-based TV audience measurement service in India called C&STAM (now only TAM) in December 1995 as well as pioneering efforts such as the decision-makers media survey in 1987, children's media survey in 1989 and upmarket media survey in 1992.
At Starcom, an agency he was associated with for the next 15 years between 1986 and 2001, Tripathi successfully led the pitch for all P&G media planning business in India in December 1999, and was responsible for setting up a 12-member strategy team focused only on media planning. "I enjoyed creating a brand-centric, analytical, media planning organisation, which has continued delivering the same fact-based and learning-driven work, well after my leaving it," highlights Tripathi about Starcom India.
He however is unwilling to share details about his new assignment, choosing instead to sum up his feelings in this manner, "I am enjoying myself in China, but I do miss being in regular touch with my friends in India as well." © 2002 agencyfaqs!