Amit Sutha, managing director of Ensemble Worldwide and Universal McCann, follows three simple principles. Firstly, he stays calm in all situations, secondly focuses on innovation (because that's the key to growth), and thirdly ensures that that every team members has been trained to replace his boss.
"We work in a rather frantic industry where things tend to get really heated. This is an industry where a calm head in crisis is pretty valuable. You have to be a leader that is there for the team. In good but especially at the tough times. As a leader you need to be that person your team can always turn to for solutions," said Sutha.
Moving forward, he believes that being great at "business as usual" will allow agencies to sustain a P&L, but real growth will only happen through innovations and being ahead of the game.
His biggest KPI is to remain in the background, to aid and to push the people in the team in such a manner that they are good enough to take over his role.
"The reason is simple," he said. "It’s only when someone takes over my job can I go ahead and do more and this thinking percolates to all levels." he added. In a conversation with A+M, Sutha highlights his inspiration and his challenges while pursuing a dual role in the industry.
Who was the mentor who influenced you the most and how?
It would be both politically and factually incorrect to mention any one mentor. Almost all the bosses and senior leaders I have interacted with have taught me something about different management styles or aspects of the craft.
Today, my real mentors are the youngsters in office.
I learn so much from them. I do not interrupt and I observe how they work.
For instance, there was once we were all studying to take the Facebook Blueprint exam and Google Certification test. One of the younger individuals in the team just sat me down and helped me get up to speed. While I felt like I was studying, the whole process was so natural for her.
What inspires you the most?
Life itself, how everything you do starts with an expectation and end with an experience. Every experience teaches you something new. Whether you are at work, spending time with family, playing a game or just staring out at the world there are so many things that are inspiring.
What’s the toughest part of your job?
It’s balancing the non negotiable part of a CEO’s job which is revenues, numbers, P&L with the philosophy to continuously strategise and innovate. Because honestly, that’s the only way you can inorganically push growth rates way higher than industry benchmarks.
Clients don’t choose you because your finances are strong. They choose you for the new ideas and new methods you bring to the table.
I have a strategic upbringing and sometimes, just sometimes I still count myself more as a strategist, and less as an MD.
How does it feel like to have both creative and a media role?
Frankly it’s a privilege and I must thank IPG MBWW for that. It’s a dream job for anyone who is passionate about the advertising industry. It’s a true whole brain experience with full exposure to data, analytics, optimisation while also being totally in touch with the more experiential, softer story telling side.
Magic happens when both come together and I’m thankful to be the centre of that right now.
What in your definition is the perfect amalgamation of data and creativity?
It’s definitely not advertising as of yet.
I am fascinated by how data is being used and targeted for specific customer needs. It is amazing how much information people give publicly about themselves on Facebook, and how it can be and is being used, by brands and by political establishments. We have seen how individuals were profiled and fake news and political advertisements were tailor made for specific profiles during the US elections this time.
Some of the campaigns we’ve done for our clients like the KFC Hot and Cheezy Burger, the Nippon Paints campaign have used micro insights that come from real time data to create advertising.
I am also amazed by some of the work being done in journalism, where data and new age story telling have come together to come up with some remarkably powerful pieces. New forms of storytelling are fascinating insights into changing consumer behavior for news and technology.
How do you spend your free time?
I am a passionate sportsperson. I play most racket sports well, but the sport I am most passionate about is tennis. I think the game teaches me so much about operating in real life.
And I have two young boys who I love spending time with; they are my greatest production so far.
How do you ensure a proper work life balance?
It’s actually pretty simple. Work has to revolve around life. So I start early, try and get home before the family goes to sleep, and then have a few hours of work later in the night when everyone else has retired for the day. Although, my wife does not think I do this often enough.
I am also the type of person who completely packs his life outside work. So whether it’s playing sports, trying your hand at a musical instrument, reading, or just going for jungle treks, I keep myself busy.
What’s one piece of advice you would give to someone just starting out?
As we understand more of how data and technology is changing our world we need youngsters to apply similar principles to our industry. Together we need to build towards a new world of marketing solutions where campaigns are tailor made for individuals, behaviors, or interest.
Our industry is at the cusp of change, and change brings amazing opportunities, the question is are you ready for the ride? Take my word for it, there is nothing more satisfying than being part of a revolution.