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Why Taproot needed a CEO, and why Umesh Shreekhande was the best choice

Agency adulthood, which means running an expanding agency, may not always be the best thing that brilliant creative minds handle well. Even if they do, it is at the cost of the creative product. This is where Taproot made a smart move

BestMediaInfo Bureau | Delhi | July 8, 2013

It was a creative boutique that took wings in January 2009. In less than a year it became the hottest creative shop under the celebrated duo of Agnello Dias aka Aggie and Santosh Padhi aka Paddy. Winning awards at various forums and Cannes Lions became routine for Taproot in less than five years of its existence. But the baby has quickly stepped into adulthood, and a few months back Dentsu took a majority stake in the agency, but making sure that Aggie and Paddy were not disturbed in any way in their creative pursuit.

But adulthood, which means running an expanding full-service agency, may not always be the best thing that brilliant creative minds handle well. Even if they do, it is at the cost of their creative product. This is where Taproot made a smart move – inducting the highly respected Umesh Shrikhande as CEO a week ago.

Umesh Shrikhande

Paddy explained, “We have grown to a size where we felt that there should be at least one senior ad professional who can share some responsibilities so that we get lot of quality time to invest in our creative work and to make sure that the creative product improves further. We have been looking for someone who, along with Aggie and I, could be the face of the agency. We needed a CEO the most. As a player-cum-coach, Shreekhande fits in with Taproot’s philosophy well. He is young at heart, he knows the new age medium, and he knows the needs of clients.”

When acquired by Dentsu, it was expected that Taproot will expand soon from one city to multi-city offices but the agency believed in organic growth and didn’t expand its base even in Delhi where it has 70 per cent of its clients. Taproot, that is, Aggie and Paddy, believe that there is no need for an office in Delhi immediately and even if they have one, they would both have to fly from Mumbai to Delhi for every client meet. So, as far as a Delhi office is concerned, that’s not happening soon.

The outstanding and well recognised award winning works for existing clients have added a huge number of prospective clients for Taproot but the agency has been very particular while taking up any assignment so that it could maintain its way of functioning. The agency believes that the moment it tries to do things that are out of control, it would lose the plot and the character. “Being overloaded with assignments does not allow the talent to bloom and affects the quality of the creative product. Our belief is that quality time is absolutely vital to get a quality product,” Paddy said.

Shreekhande will report to Aggie and will lead strategy, client servicing, planning, business and finance. He will be a link between Dentsu and Taproot. “A seasoned and rooted professional like him will be an asset for Taproot as he will be able to devote time to the young Taproot professionals who have an average age of 25-26 years,” Paddy added. Taproot today has some 40-odd young hands on its roster. They now have a great mentor in Shreekhande.

In many ways, Shreekhande is tailormade for the job as this is exactly the role he played in his long stint at Contract. He ran Contract while Ravi Deshpande was the creative face of the agency. A seasoned veteran, he can look after the operational side of Taproot very well, and also grooming and mentoring the young team, while Aggie and Paddy are left with ample time to completely focus on the creative product. It is a win-win situation.

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