Within two years of assuming stewardship of the agency, Andrey Purushottam has quit his post of managing director at Starcom India. A prepared statement from the agency, released yesterday, says that Purushottam has left the agency "to pursue other interests".
In a related development, the Starcom MediaVest Group (SMG) has announced certain key structural changes in Starcom India. These include the bifurcation of the agency's operations into Starcom North and Starcom West/South, and the appointment of Ravi Kiran as managing director, Starcom West/South. Further, Dr Ravi Moorthy is moving to head Starcom South China, and will be based in Guangzhou, China. Both Ravi Kiran and Moorthy were previously general managers at the agency.
Purushottam's departure is both sudden and unexpected. More so considering the IIM, Ahmedabad, graduate with more than 17 years' experience in marketing, media and management (Purushottam has worked extensively with both Lintas and Hindustan Lever, and was previously head of Initiative Media) was being seen as the torchbearer for Starcom India. In fact, it was under Purushottam that the agency executed a financial turnaround in 2002. "Andrey's vision and leadership have driven a period of tremendous momentum for Starcom and built a strong foundation for the future," D Sriram, CEO, SMG South East Asia/India, says in the prepared statement.
agencyfaqs! got in touch with Purushottam late last evening to clear the air a bit. "Basically, I am satisfied with what I have done at Starcom," he says. "I have achieved my task of turning the agency from a substantial loss-making one into a profit-making one, and making it a professional and strong organization. With that done, I am looking towards new challenges." Does that mean he saw his role at Starcom as that of a turnaround man? "Yes, more or less," he says.
He is, however, not prepared to answer that "million dollar question" - at least not yet. "I've just had twins, and I want to chill out with the kids for a while," he says. "And being a cricket buff, I'll be spending a lot of time in front of the television now." He does admit he has quite a few options, but… "I think I'll be in a position to say something concrete around the time India has won the World Cup and we are all celebrating," he smiles optimistically.
One person who has concrete things to say is Ravi Kiran, who carries the authority of 13 years industry experience (at Lintas, Initiative Media and Starcom) with him. When quizzed about the creation of two Starcom entities - Starcom North and Starcom West/South - in India, the business graduate from FMS, Delhi, says, "At Starcom, we focus on individual markets instead of following strict geographical boundaries. If a region shows potential, we accord it the merit it deserves and put in place a senior functionary to tap its potential to the fullest, instead of remote-controlling it. It's a policy we've successfully implemented in the Asia-Pacific region - North East Asia and South East Asia/India - and in China - North China and South China."
While Ravi Kiran has been made managing director of Starcom West/South, leadership of Starcom North is still in question. "We have met potential candidates, and the shortlisting is over," he reveals. "An announcement would be made in the next seven-to-ten days." He adds that the candidate will not be from the agency - "there is no one of that stature within Starcom India, now that Ravi (Moorthy) is heading for China" - and will be, in all probability, someone who knows the Delhi market. Interestingly, Starcom's Delhi operation has only recently come into its own, with a handful of new businesses.
New business was one thing that Starcom India was bullish on during Purushottam's tenure. And that is not about to change. In fact, Ravi Kiran insists that Purushottam's departure will not result in any "discontinuous change" at the agency. "None of Starcom's visions that existed when Andrey was here will be disturbed," he says, adding that his mandate would be to consolidate existing businesses and "go after new business with great gusto".
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