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Media Room: CVL Srinivas, Chairman of SMG India

As the first Chairman of SMG India, CVL Srinivas wants to make sure employees and clients both are happy. A tete-a-tete with BE.

, ET Bureau|
Jan 18, 2011, 10.19 PM IST
Media Room: CVL Srinivas, Chairman of SMG India
CVL Srinivas, fondly called Srini, may be the Chairman of SMG India, but is just a trainee in his tabla school. “I am learning tabla along with 6-10 year olds, they are my classmates. It will be atleast 7-8 years before I can call myself a tabla player. I am still a trainee,” smiles Srinivas. While the world of music maybe new for Srinivas, he knows the media industry like the back of his hand. From Madison to Fulcrum to Maxus, Srinivas spent over 14 years in the media agency industry before he decided to take a break.

From 2007 to 2010 Srinivas did what interested him and that included things he had not managed to get time for when he was working in the media industry. During this four-year period he dabbled in various things, he was a consultant with Surewaves, a company that specializes in media convergence solutions; he consulted a private equity (PE) fund in the media sector and also worked with BCCL’s Private Treaties as director for two years.

“I am not the kind of person who can do the same thing for a long time. I need newer challenges at a rapid frequency,” declares Srinivas. During these four years that he was away from the industry, Srinivas claims to have been contacted by all major media groups in the country, but none of those roles interested him, until Andrew Swinand and Laura Desmond got in touch.

Srinivas’s discussions with SMG went on for over three months, before his role in the group was finalized. “When I met them, they gave me the entire blueprint of how Starcom is building the agency of the future, they spoke about the vision for the future. It sounded quite refreshing, it struck a chord because it seemed to be incredibly futuristic, so it actually set me thinking,” he says.

Given the growing importance of India, SMG created a position of Chairman to oversee India operation which Srinivas will handle. He will be assisted by a CEO for SMG India (yet to be appointed) who will be hands-on, responsible for client dealings and day-to-day operations of the agency. Apart from this, Srinivas is also the MD of LiquidThread.

LiquidThread is a new content practice being launched by SMG globally, it started in US in April 2010 and is now being rolled out in APAC from this year. While it is a content practice company Srinavas says that LiquidThread will go beyond just placing brands in movies, serials, etc.

“We will take branded content to the next level, i.e. having branded properties, create communities, create conversations, create advocates for brands,” explains Srinivas. The US LiquidThread team already has 40 people, though the team in India is yet to be built.

While LiquidThread is still work in progress, Srinivas’s short-term goal for SMG is to “help set a direction for the agency and a new trajectory for growth. And be the bridge between global thinking of SMG and the local challenges they are facing,” he says. Apart from growing the business, Srinivas considers people-management to be another key task at SMG. Therefore getting the right talent and to ensure the existing talent is motivated in the right direction are Srinivas’s priorities.

“We exist because of our people in the company and our clients. So ensuring that our existing clients get the best of service is an equally important priority like managing talent,” he says. The demands of the media industry may have prompted Srinivas to take a break, but between tabla lessons, golfing lessons and yoga, he hopes to “lead a more balanced life” compared to his first innings.

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