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This Has Been Our Best Year, In Recent Years: C.V.L. Srinivas, Country Manager, WPP India

As marketers continuously push agencies to deliver more, in this interview with BW Businessworld, C.V.L. Srinivas, speaks of what is working for WPP India, and how the industry is changing.

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As the Country Manager for WPP India, C.V.L. Srinivas has the difficult task of making established agency brands, giants of their domain and newer practices are known for their agility and challenging conventions to all move together in one direction, towards a common goal. As marketers continuously push agencies to deliver more, in this interview with BW Businessworld, C.V.L. Srinivas, speaks of what is working for WPP India, and how the industry is changing. 

Excerpts: 

India is facing a year of near quasi-recession. WPP India has grown in this backdrop nonetheless in 2019. What do you attribute this growth to?
This has been our best year in recent years. Almost all our operating companies are doing well across communications, experience, commerce, technology and the likes. This is due to the stellar performance and hard work of our colleagues across WPP companies that have won us new businesses, grown our business with existing clients and helped to scale up newer practices.  

When you say marketers are scaling up newer practices, is this an industry wide trend of moving beyond traditional advertising?
We clearly see marketers relying less on traditional advertising going forward and increasing their spend on customer experience, commerce and technology. Outside of FMCG, the shift is happening faster. Agencies of  the future need to be able to provide full-funnel marketing services support to clients. 

At present, the industry in India is still over indexed on communications but the growth is all going to be from the other three pillars. We see the current split of approximately 70 per cent skewed to communication move towards an equal divide over the next couple of years.

Many global companies are speaking of partnering at holding company level instead of  the level of individual brands. Isn’t this easier said than done, given the mindset shift required at both the holding company and at individual agency level? How do you ensure that you are delivering the best of  both to your clients?

Increasingly, many of our clients are partnering with us as WPP. Having said that, we have very strong agency brands that have their own unique cultures and fantastic talent. We would like to keep alive and strengthen these cultures but at the same time drive synergy at the backend and ensure we all pull in one direction. The attempt is to therefore,  give our clients the best of  both worlds. An integrated team (with a WPP team leader in many cases) is having specialists working together with a common purpose.  

With the continuous up-gradation of technology, reskilling is becoming an area of prime focus for many companies. What are some of the steps you have taken to create a future-fit workforce?
Talent development is very integral to our strategy to grow and stay future-focused. We have formed a HR Leaders’ Council that has representation from all our agency brands. They share best practices and design programmes and policies at a pan-WPP level. 

Many of  the experts sit within WPP. We harness their knowledge for the benefit of the larger group. Some of our agencies like GroupM have created platforms for learning and development which we plan to leverage across the wider group. Our partners will also play a role in upskilling our talent. Many of them have been actively involved in our training programmes. 

We regularly host platforms such as Stream, WPP Data summit, WPP Commerce and so on for our clients, people and partners to exchange ideas and gain from each others’ perspective.  

Our new campus in Mumbai – BAY99 has a 50-seat incubator space where we are inviting partners and startups to come sit with us. This is another initiative aimed at changing mindsets and exposing our colleagues to the latest technology.  

How are you seeing WPP Campus impact individual agencies in the company and the company itself?
We see this as the single biggest change agent in what we are trying to do that is, in bringing teams to work more closely together for clients and for all our colleagues to feel that they are part of a larger company with common values and a strong vision. 

We did a staff survey recently which showed findings that an overwhelming majority of our colleagues are excited about the prospects to learn, develop their careers and do exciting work for clients that comes by being a part of the WPP campus.


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