Nisha Menon

Profile - Gautam Kiyawat: "Know What You Want"

Gautam Kiyawat, who replaced Punitha Arumugham as the CEO of Madison Media, takes afaqs! through his journey.

It's been a little over a month since Gautam Kiyawat took charge as chief executive officer at Madison Media. "Big shoes to fill?" you ask him, referring to erstwhile CEO Punitha Arumugham, and he says, "Every job has its own challenges. I have worked with Punitha in past. And it has been an amazing learning experience."

Profile - Gautam Kiyawat: "Know What You Want"
By the time Kiyawat reached high school, he had a very clear idea about what he wanted in life. "I knew I wanted to do something whose foundation was communications and marketing."

After spending his initial years in Mumbai and Pune, he joined PSG College of Technology in Coimbatore. For him, a B.Sc in Applied Science was the stepping-stone to enter a management college. And that's exactly what he did. After graduation, Kiyawat joined the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore in 1993. "At IIM, I changed from a big fish in a small pond to a small fish in a big pond. I was exposed to people from varied backgrounds. And these people added to my learning experience."

In 1995, Kiyawat was picked up by Procter & Gamble (P&G) during campus placement. As an assistant manager in P&G's consumer research division, Kiyawat picked up the tricks of management. After a couple of years, when he got the opportunity to become a part of P&G's media team, he grabbed it and became the media manager. In 2000, Kiyawat was given the chance to move to Singapore and set up the regional office for P&G. "My experience at P&G was fantastic. This was the place where I learned the art of doing the right thing, without worrying about consequences."

In 2002, Kiyawat moved to Philips as the marketing director, APAC. He was instrumental in setting up the personal infotainment business. He describes this stint as professionally fulfilling, where he learned the art of managing business independently.

Two years later, Kiyawat decided to move on and get back to his first love, media. He joined News Corp as VP, SEA in 2004. "It was a good chance for me to get back to media," avers Kiyawat.

By late 2009, armed with the experience of working with major multinationals, Kiyawat joined hands with Harsha Dandapani to launch Adverb, a digital creative media company. "Five years at News Corp and I wanted to do something on my own. The thrill of building a business from scratch was too much to resist."

The agency, however, could not reach the scale Kiyawat had hoped for. In 2011, he moved on to join Research in Motion as head of marketing operations, APAC. Dandapani continues to run the agency.

Kiyawat, for whom most of the work experience came from various stints in marketing roles at different companies, not having enough experience in the media circles did not act as a deterrent.

"The shift from marketing to media has been natural. In fact, my experience in the marketing circles will act as an advantage. I have been on the other side of business. And the varied roles I have held over the last 17 years will be an asset."

He is a man who does not believe in over-planning the future. "I don't have any future plans. Focus on the present and the future will be right on track. But knowing what you want is important," he says.

Kiyawat describes himself as extremely objective, fair and easy to work with. His mantra for success is a simple thought. "The mantra for success for anyone is that he or she should define what it is. The meaning of success will differ from person to person. Work towards your passion and success will follow."

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