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Meet the CEOs: Mindshare’s R Gowthaman

Last year, Ragothaman Gowthaman, took on the role of CEO for South and Southeast Asia, Mindshare.  Gowthaman, or more popularly known as “GMan” was with the agency since it started in India in 2002 and moved from India to Singapore.

Here’s an inside scoop on GMan.

When you’re not working, what are you up to?

To be honest, I do think about work (in a non-working way). I think a lot about the industry, the way this industry has changed in the past and going to change in the future and the impact of technology in all this. Watching movies (any movie), editing them and reading books on Indian philosophy are the three of my favorite pastimes.

Who was the mentor who most influenced you and why?

There is no one mentor, I have a few –  both within and outside the industry. The fact that you are working with the top of the top Fortune 500 companies gives you the rarest of rare opportunities to interact with so many CEOs (even they themselves cannot dream of it!). I learn every day.

Harshest thing said to you in your career

I can’t remember any particular incident from the past 10 years, although I used to take it very personally when some of the clients treated us like commission agents.

When you were a newbie in the industry, did you dream you would be CEO one day? What kind of CEO did you want to be and how closely have you stuck to it?

Definitely not – primarily because this industry has evolved so much (at least five times since 1990) that I would rather focus on staying current and doing the right things rather than dreaming about a destination.

Even today, as a CEO, the focus is on staying current, updated and relevant first and then to lead the team towards the future. I consciously ensure that I spend one third of my time thinking about the future.

Your biggest blunder in your career

Nothing comes to mind that particularly troubles me, in these past 24 years. However, there are definitely a few things I could have done differently, that is, to look at our clients’ business more deeply and to understand and foresee potential issues that could come our way.

For example, the transformation of the marketing function in the client organisation; how finance is taking over some critical decision- making processes in the future and technology, and in turn, the CTO’s role; and how should we transform ourselves to manage multiple stakeholders in the new evolving ecosystem.

What do you dislike most about advertising/your job?

As mentioned earlier, when people call us commission agents, which truly we are NOT.

Also the way the system is hell-bent on commoditising this service. I could draw parallels to the telecom and IT industry where some sanity was brought in when the industry got together to create some benchmarks. It’s high time we also think of doing this.

One thing you would say to a newbie in the industry:

Stay hungry. Stay relevant. Stay current.

Your first job

I joined as a media planner in Chennai, India. My first job was to plan, execute, monitor, and course correct the national media campaign of a political party. It was a baptism by fire, a blessing in disguise and the fastest learning curve.

From that I learnt the importance of accountability and the importance of this function. Some of the basic principles I learnt from this are still applicable today.

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