1992 was when Ogilvy opened it’s door to a rat pack of characters, a few of which transformed from rats into stars. Shiv was one of the blessed few. I met Shiv, when I moved to Ogilvy Mumbai from Ogilvy Bangalore, in 1992.
He was an Account Supervisor, working on the hottest client in Ogilvy's portfolio at the time - Cadburys.
Clients loved him, women loved him, every one I knew loved him. He was way too cool. (That’s probably never going to change, and rightfully so.)
I was put up at the notoriously popular Ogilvy GuestHouse on D Road, with the whole place to myself. A dangerous thing to do. The next 6 months was a haze of epic drunken nights with the gang of Rat Packers , early morning omelettes from Stadium Canteen to soothe our hangovers, never ending complaints from the building society to the cringing Ogilvy Admin, and many warnings from the bosses. That was the foundation of my relationship with Shiv.
I admired the guy, and truth be told, often wished I was as smart, articulate and intelligent as him.
The cool quotient sky-rocketed when he was picked to move to Ogilvy, Paris in 2000. Bumped up from Churchgate straight to Champs Elysee. If there was anyone who could have pulled this off with style to spare, it was Shiv.
Six months on, I met him in Paris for a replay of old times. 7:30 am, Shiv was up and about, sans hangover, dressed up all French and spouting French like a local. He was even making pitches to clients in French by then !!
No surprises that he was made ‘Director Generale’ of Ogivly France in no time at all. And quickly became one of the most admired people in the Paris Advertising scene and a super star in the WPP system. The eight years that Shiv spent in Europe were not just ceiling breakers in many ways for Indian Advertising professionals, (especially those in Client Management), they were inspirational to all his peers and friends. He was the first under 40 Managing director of Ogilvy France and of course, the only Indian to date. With a stellar corner office on Champs Elysee. Fittingly, right next to the famous Crazy Horse burlesque bar.
Looking back I often find myself wondering about this bond that Shiv and I share. It isn’t like we call each other every day, or back slap each other like homeys when we do meet. In fact sometimes we run out of things to say to one another. Yet the bond remains, as strong as the day we first met.
It is the effortless likability of the man, that I think is his super power. That's what makes him so special to his family, his friends, and anyone who engages with him. The reason why he gets the kind of love he gets from everywhere- his family, friends, clients and all the women, everywhere (errrr… apologies, Priya. please don’t pitch your shoe at me!) And of course, the fact that there’s so much more to the man than meets the eye.
So there you have it - The more I know Shiv, the less I know Shiv. The fondness continues to keep pace with the growing silver in our hair.