The sharpest finance brain and most intuitively strategic mind in the communications space in India…. is how I would describe Mr. Ranjan Kapur.
Having been my boss for a decade at Ogilvy & Mather, Ranjan was my mentor, guide, well-wisher and most important of all a fabulous coach.
When Ranjan took over as CEO of O&M in 1993, Ogilvy was at number 3 in the agency pecking order, and it was his masterstroke in appointing Piyush Pandey as the national creative leader that makes Ogilvy even today the powerhouse that it is.
What many people don’t know is that apart from appointing Piyush to lead the creative mandate, he also took the almost crazy step at the time, in giving Piyush a carte blanch to go out and hire the twenty most creative people in India!
The strategy was simple… if Ogilvy was going to distinguish itself as a major force to reckon with… then in Ranjan’s mind the only differentiating factor was going to be in the Creative Product, and how very true he was.
That apart … Ranjan was also a superb judge of the creative product himself, and very often the creatve team would bounce creative ideas of him in the mid 90’s and ask for his opinion. He even came up with the creative ideas that saw the light of day in two Titan commercials as well.
Given his finance background, Ranjan was also exceptionally gifted when it came to remembering, analyzing and extrapolating finance numbers. A quality that very few CFO’s even have. At any point in time he would know the updated numbers on every unit’s business in the agency … upto the minutest detail including your last 3 years numbers as well!
Sharp financial wizards often get on well with people who are their equals and I am convinced that’s why Sir Martin Sorrell and Ranjan got along so well together :-).
Being financially astute Ranjan made ‘decision making’ very easy for himself and for the business leaders around him. I remember almost 2 decades ago, I managed to win a very large business from Citibank in Chennai and called Ranjan asking him to clear the decision for me, knowing fully well that Ogilvy was globally aligned to American Express. I’ll never forget what he said to me and for 5 minutes at the time I didn’t understand what we meant. He said ’’ Pratap… I haven’t heard you and we haven’t spoken ’’
( I’m sorry Ranjan if I spilled the beans on this one :-) )