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In-depth: Is India’s ad industry investing enough in GenNext?

There is no dearth of examples of India's creative leaders being mentored by seniors in their early days. But is the present top brass investing enough in mentoring the new generation? talks to industry leaders to find out

The future of any industry is defined by the investment it makes on the young generation. BBDO's Josy Paul, while he was being inducted into Advertising Club Calcutta's Hall of Fame, had said, "I can't help but remember all the people who made me, who believed in me. I am a sum of these amazing mentors. Their belief is contagious! Belief is a crouching tiger that shows itself when you are facing failure and rejection. I carry their torch of belief with me and pass it around to my colleagues, partners, and everyone I meet.”

Paul’s statement sums up the importance of mentorship in advertising.

At the industry level, Portfolio Nights across the globe, including India, have been contributing towards grooming talent in some ways. But many feel it is missing at an agency or individual level.

So, the question we raise is that is the present crop of leaders investing enough in their juniors? And are the youngsters open enough to learn, given the fast-changing job attitude in the age of the internet?

Subhash Kamath

"Youngsters today have a huge change in attitude with their jobs. With good avenues and emerging opportunities in content platforms, they are shifting to that space. Ad agencies will have to show the future potential to young employees to retain them," said Subhash Kamath, CEO and Managing Partner, BBH India.

Akashneel Dasgupta

"Advertising is a people’s industry and career starters need to work with the right set of people. If you are working with the right set of people, you will find mentorship, good environment and democracy," said Akashneel Dasgupta, CCO, BBDO India – Delhi.

Are leaders investing enough?

Preparing the next crop for the industry is completely the prerogative of the present leadership. “The advertising industry hasn’t invested as much in training and development as they could have,” Kamath said.

“It’s not that there are not good mentors; there are people who are mentoring youngsters in the right way. It all depends upon the leadership, whether or not senior people are willing to spare time for youngsters,” said Dasgupta.

Experts say leaders should also provide the young generation with enough leeway to implement their ideas.

Bobby Pawar

“Greater effort is required to retain young talent. We have got a simple mandate in our organisation that nobody has the authority to bounce anyone’s idea and say that it’s not good. We look into the idea and first give reasons as to why it won’t work, what is good in it and how can it be better,” Pawar said.

According to Dasgupta, when young talent gets into a great set-up and find a mentor who is good for them, they don’t keep floating for accounts or money but to work with the right set of people.

“Agencies need to have processes and investments for training and mentoring. They need to create a game plan, a career path for their employees to retain creative talent in the agency,” Kamath said.

Ajay Gahlaut

According to Ajay Gahlaut, Executive Creative Director at Ogilvy & Mather, if someone is really into their profession and has the talent and ability to do well, then nothing can stop them from growing. “It’s easy to blame the system and say I was not looked after. If you like your profession and have the talent and ability to do well, then nobody can stop you. Blaming someone for something is generally a sign of weakness and most importantly if someone is not happy with what they are doing then they should leave,” Gahlaut said.

Leaders need to be more open-minded

According to Bobby Pawar, Chairman and Chief Creative Officer at Havas Group, creative leaders should change their attitude of being quality-control inspectors and make their people have better work. “Creative leaders should not be a quality control inspector. Most of the time, CDs scrap ideas given by juniors. Instead, they should rather explain why the idea is not correct or how it can be better,” said Pawar. 

Dasgupta said leaders should always be open to other’s perspective and provide equal opportunities to youngsters. “Provide equal opportunity to youngsters; be more patient to them. A lot of times we are not patient enough to listen to what they have to say. Many a time, they have ideas but they are wary or guarded. We should give them a feeling that they are not being judged. If they get the feeling that they are being judged, they hold back themselves and that’s the most dangerous thing for a creative business,” he said.

“We try to create an environment where everybody speaks up and people are not guarded. They have their voice irrespective of their seniority or the number of years they have worked for the agency,” Dasgupta said.

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