Sohini Sen

Profile - Pradeep Uppalapati: Charting a New Course

The co-founder and CFO of newly launched agency, The Social Street talks about his journey from corporate finance to entrepreneurship.

What would someone find so interesting in the advertising world that he moves out of his comfort zone and takes a leap of faith into the unknown? That is invariably the first question that Pradeep Uppalapati, co-founder and chief financial officer, The Social Street, is asked a lot.

Profile - Pradeep Uppalapati: Charting a New Course
Uppalapati studied in Melbourne, Australia. He did his CPA (certified practicing accounts) and started working in corporate finance in the fashion and retail industry. After three years, he moved to Accenture Australia and was associated with the company for more than a decade.

Within a year, he moved into business development. Over the years, Uppalapati spent time not only in different divisions but also in different leadership roles. He was instrumental in structuring and packaging deals - both organic and inorganic - that Accenture struck. He moved his focus to business strategy with digital and analytics. He was in charge of devising innovative methods to penetrate certain markets, globally. "I always like to be challenged and therefore kept changing what I do every two years. With an organisation like Accenture, you get the opportunity to do so," he said.

Three years ago, he moved to Bangalore to set up a team to build capabilities or a talent pool tap. While in Bangalore, thanks to his networking skills, Uppalapati met with folk from other industries, including Pratap Bose and Mandeep Malhotra from advertising.

"I had done a lot of research and analysis and transactions with advertising-marketing clients in the past, but had never done business. I never thought I'd be an entrepreneur in this industry. Though it was never planned, I saw the growth potential and the challenges which are abundant," points out Uppalapati.

According to him, this huge learning curve is what got him interested in the advertising domain. But the decision to turn entrepreneur was one of the most difficult decisions of his life. "I have always created value for clients. So why not create something for myself? I am not a guru in this industry, but I have the guidance of gurus. It doesn't take too long to understand the business or the client. But it takes time to understand the practices of the regional industry," he adds.

He agrees that it is not easy. But he feels comfortable being around Bose and Malhotra. Uppalapati combines this with a generous helping of reading about the industry, networking wherever possible and meeting up with mentors. He also believes in a hands-on approach to work and often takes part in pitch presentations and brainstorming sessions for key clients. "My leadership is all about people. Your organisation is as good as your people," explains Uppalapati.

While each of the trio has his own set of responsibilities, the team has decided to bring state-of-the-art practices, instead of following a successful company. The idea is to benchmark across the industry and take good things out of other industries and bring fresh perspectives. According to him, clients are now looking for someone to take the complete mandate. Clients themselves want to be involved in the process. These are learnings from his days on the other side of the business.

However, he does admit that he gets the jitters now and then. "What gives me sleepless nights is how soon am I going to pass the learning curve. But I think I am on a good trajectory," he signs off.

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