Fonterra global CMO Anindya Dasgupta exits to launch consultancy

Anindya Dasgupta (pictured), Fonterra's global head of consumer business and chief marketing and sales officer, is leaving the company to set up his own consultancy named Growth Officers Inc headquartered in Singapore. Growth Officers Inc will currently focus on clients in Southeast Asia and aims to expand into India and China in the future.

In an interview with Marketing, Dasgupta said he will officially leave his role in the next couple of months. Meanwhile, he added that his company will be fully operational in August. Fonterra declined to comment on Marketing's queries.

Dasgupta has been with Fonterra for close to five years, joining as VP and global head of Fonterra's nutrition business, before rising to the role of global CMO and thereafter his current role, according to his LinkedIn. Prior to joining Fonterra, he was with PepsiCo for more than six years, with his last role being senior director, global beverages group. He also worked at GSK for close to nine years.

When asked about his time at Fonterra, Dasgupta told Marketing it was "exciting" and he had the challenge of creating a global consumer business which allowed him to put his expertise gained from PepsiCo and GSK to good use. He added that the company has seen great success over the last four years and it had extremely smart leaders who drove growth agenda on the business.

"I think Fonterra is by far the best when it comes to dairy R&D and B2B ingredients. The consumer business right now, is going through a thorough strategic review under the new management. After almost five exciting years, this is the right time for me to leave," he explained.

His inspiration for Growth Officers Inc came after noticing that several medium-sized companies have a strong growth agenda, but do not have the capabilities required to build that growth. He added that the three key challenges faced at new age capabilities, revenue growth management and conceptualising new ideas quickly.

According to Dasgupta, SMEs want to recruit and attract individuals who are knowledgeable about new age capabilities in the areas of digital sales, supply chain and tracking engagement in the era of social media. However, he explained that this is "extremely expensive recruitment" for them and comes in the way of their growth.

"In this day and age, the company has to embrace the whole area of digital transformation and the area of engagement and building their own brands. This covers demand generation, tracking engagement in this era of social media, digital sales and supply chain. My company is going to be one which focuses on making new age capabilities accessible to such mid-sized companies," he explained.

Besides the lack of new age capabilities, Dasgupta said companies also do not have the right capabilities in revenue growth management and lack the ability to commercialise new ideas within three to four months. When it comes to revenue growth management, companies need to know how to drive innovation and strong bottom line growth in an area where there are multiple players. Also, gone are the days when companies can come up with a new product innovation idea and take 18 to 24 months to see it materialise.

"Growth Officers Inc is going to provide companies with the ability to not only define their growth strategy but also execute it. Imagine our team being like a SWAT team - we will roll up our sleeves and work hand in hand with clients to execute these capabilities over a period of time. By doing that, it will help build internal capabilities within those companies, and they will then have in-house capabilities to continue running their growth agendas," he explained.

While there are bigger consultancies with similar offerings, Dasgupta explained that they mainly focus on delivering strategy and less on the execution, which is the area that most companies struggle with. His team, on the other hand, comprises subject matter experts and C-level holders from blue chip companies who will provide expertise to companies "at a fraction of a cost", he said. There are currently three other individuals on Dasgupta's team, all of who have helmed roles such as chief R&D officer of an FMCG company, a former CCO of a renowned ad firm and a former revenue growth management leader.

"The large consulting firms have extremely knowledgeable and very smart consultants. However, they do not have plenty of hands on industry experience. What we offer to clients is subject matter experts with strong hands on industry experience. Therefore, we have the ability to solve day-to-day problems instead of just having theoretical knowledge," Dasgupta explained. He added:

We are the right hand for a CTO who is going to work hand in hand with the CEO, and we will help them build a strong and capable in-house team.

Read the rest of the interview here:

Marketing: What are some challenges you think the marketing industry is currently facing right now?

Dasgupta: Ad agencies are not changing with the times, they very much still think that a 60-second TV commercia will solve all the problems for them, while they keep talking about digital. When they come in for client presentation, they will present TVC then talk about what they are going to do around the TVC in the digital world.

That doesn’t work anymore so they have to adapt and change themselves to work in the realm of social media. Nowadays, it's social media-first and companies have to create 200 to 300 pieces of content every year.

When it comes to big consultancies, there are two problems - the people working for the firms have a strong academic record and consulting experiences. They are very smart and I hold them in high regard but when it comes to those who are working on the projects, most of them have very little industry experience. The reality check in most cases in the large consulting firms needs to come from clients first. Consulting firms rarely provide these checks.

Marketing: What are some emerging trends marketers should take note of?

Dasgupta: Consumers are becoming increasingly more conscious about the planet and what they are giving back to the earth. The quicker a brand manager or marketer understands that and turns that into something actionable for their own brand, the better for them. Just saying that the brand is going to make the packaging sustainable by 2020 sounds nice on paper but means nothing, you need to show action nowadays.

Consumers today want to see action as opposed to people proclaiming big things for the future.

Companies have to take small but meaningful steps. Yes, it would take some time to evolve into sustainable packaging but that does not mean companies cannot take proactive steps today, such as teaching consumers the right way to dispose of their packaging, or tips to choosing a more sustainable packaging versus another. Those are things that can be done today and most companies, frankly speaking, are only focusing on the future. They are doing very little for the present.

The second thing is that marketers today have to be tech experts. Tech conferences are important and since marketers typically are not tech experts, they will need to stay ahead of the curve by attending such conferences to understand how tech works, what the next generation of retail will be, what does retail in the VR world look like, and how they can leverage on AR until their brand becomes synonymous with it. Unless a marketer can state that, it is impossible for them to do it.

You can think about tech as leverage analytics and machine learning, for example. But to understand today's consumers, you have to be an analytics expert also. You have to be able to look at data and make sense of it.

It is easy to just look at data sets and put it into a chart, but unless you can point out what it means to your brand, it is useless.