Colvyn Harris takes over from Mike Khanna at JWT

By , agencyfaqs! | In | September 16, 2004
Jagdip Bakshi, currently senior vice president and general manager of JWT Delhi, now holds the designation of CEO, Contract Advertising

The high-profile chairman of India's largest advertising agency J Walter Thompson,

Mike Khanna has finally called it a day after a 38 year-stint with the agency. Khanna, who doubled up as the area director Central Asia, is being appointed as JWT chairman emeritus with effect from January 2005.

Colvyn Harris, currently president of Contract Advertising India, is being promoted as the chief executive officer of JWT. Harris has been with the WPP group for 24 years in several leadership positions both internationally and in India, with JWT and with Contract Advertising. He has diverse experience having worked on a host of global and national brands.

Jagdip Bakshi, currently senior vice president and general manager of JWT Delhi, the largest JWT office in India, now holds the designation of CEO, Contract Advertising. Bakshi has been with the company for 24 years, and was previously the global business manager at Unilever with JWT London.

Besides this, a new regional structure has been announced by JWT. India, one of the key worldwide markets for JWT, will now report to Patrick Pitcher, area director, JWT Asia Pacific South an area comprising 14 countries, covering India, Central Asia, South East Asia and Australia.

Both Harris and Bakshi will be appointed to the new Asia Pacific Executive Board, consisting of top executives from around the region, reporting to Pitcher.The other significant appointment is that of Kamal Oberoi, the current president of JWT India. Oberoi, who has been with the company for 20 years, will now become the chairman of the JWT's yet-to-be-announced new venture.

Rohit Ohri, currently senior vice president & area director, Pepsi, will replace Jagdip Bakshi as general manager, JWT Delhi. Ohri has successfully led JWT's largest brand Pepsi for over six years. Previously, he was the client services director at JWT, Calcutta.

Commenting about the new appointments at JWT India, Mike Khanna said, "Over the years, I have watched Colvyn and Jagdip develop into leaders and watched them building strong brands and robust businesses, and I have every confidence in their ability to take these agencies to new heights in the future."

Michael Maedel, worldwide president of JWT, commenting on the retirement of Mike Khanna said, "Mike is a shining example of one of those rare leaders who has transformed JWT India into one of the finest agency groups worldwide. JWT has been the number one agency in India for 75 years, and under Mike's leadership, has helped to build some of India's most trusted brands. It is a testament to his leadership skills that we have such fine talent to take over the reins of the company."

Maedel, commenting on the appointment of Patrick Pitcher as the area director, JWT Asia Pacific South, said, "Patrick, formerly CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi, Asia Pacific, has an excellent track record of managing and building creative agencies, and his skills will be an added bonus to JWT's established brand building reputation."

Khanna's retirement and the new appointments mark how WPP plc, the holding company of agencies such as JWT, O&M, Contract and Bates, is effecting major changes at the top level across its agency network in India to be future ready.

Ranjan Kapur, former executive chairman of O&M India, has already moved to Bates India as non-executive chairman. This has been reportedly done to facilitate the integration of Bates India into the WPP fold.

JWT, for the uninitiated, has witnessed a series of dramatic developments at the helm. In 2002, JWT witnessed top-level changes when Sunil Gupta, Khanna's number two and tipped to be his successor, quit unceremoniously. Kamal Oberoi, then heading the Delhi branch, moved to Mumbai as president, even as Khanna received a two-year extension as the chairman in 2002. It was then speculated that Oberoi would take over from Khanna. That, as Wednesday's events have proved, was not to be.

The retirement of 65-year old Khanna, who has been the CEO since 1985, has been speculated time and again. Though various names have done the rounds, including the possibility of an expatriate taking JWT India's charge, Colvyn Harris has proved to be the dark horse.

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