Srinivasan Swamy

By Ramesh Narayan
Likes 54
Comments 17
Srinivasan Swamy
Thinker, Chairman, President, Friend…

I recall meeting Srinivasan (Sundar) Swamy when I was President of the Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) in 2000. I only knew he was the Chairman of RKSwamy BBDO and the son of the legendary R.K.Swamy. I had heard several things about the gentlemen and was a tad wary of what he really was. I needn’t have worried. Sundar turned out to be an industrious man with a keen mind that understood the finer points of legalese and an eagle eye that defined what “God lives in the details” really meant.

His contribution to drafting the “historic” AAAI-IBF agreement can never be over-emphasized. And the industry recognized that by requesting him to head the AAAI-IBF Committee (which was to have been Chaired by rotation) for many years.

And that, not just set a precedent for Sundar in his industry life, but underlines something very significant about his character. He was the first President of the AAAI who had three consecutive terms. The first President of the International Advertising Association India Chapter (IAA) who is in his fourth consecutive term and in every case he graciously handed over the mantle after the conventional term and was held down in the Chair by the entire Committee, kicking and screaming.

So what’s so special about him that Committees want him to be Chairman Emeritus wherever he goes?

I’ve worked with him closely over the last three years at the IAA. He brings to the table challenging targets that almost uniformly evoke derisive sniggers and jokes when he tables them. He also includes people who are initially atypical of the usual suspects that normally adorn Committees. Then he assigns responsibilities in an apparently arbitrary manner. And gently follows with them to see what’s happening. And then what happens is almost magical. A sedate industry association like the IAA has been transformed into what is arguably the most active and significant association that is continuously firing on all cylinders. From thought-provoking initiatives on subjects like gender sensitivity, voter apathy and environment consciousness to marquee events that attract the who’s who, to an epic Silver Jubilee Summit that made the World President of the IAA roll his eyes in awe, the India Chapter of the IAA has done it all. And the Silver Summit was a revelation to me. In the face of open discouragement, he decided to stick to the choice of the venue, reach out to sponsors single-handedly, look into every aspect to running a huge event himself and never lost his sense of humor even once.
So what makes the man tick?

I’ve often described him as the President on steroids. Yes, his nervous energy is as infectious as his booming laughter that precedes him everywhere. He exudes positive energy and he has the capability of diffusing the most delicate situation with his explosive laughter. He puts himself out to do whatever a Committee member asks for. He is happy to let someone do a job on his own without peering over his shoulder. He is equally happy to take the load of a Committee member’s shoulders and take on the work himself. Of course if you send him something for him to see, you can rest assured that you will not just get a quick response but an assertive view on almost anything. And he is compassionate. He sees the person behind the seat of power so he is never concerned if that seat is not there. The person is important to him. His role has expanded into leadership positions at ASCI, the Asian Federation of Advertising Associations (AFAA), ABC and elsewhere but he somehow finds the time to do a wide array of other things that I will not dwell upon because they are not directly involved with the advertising industry. As he says “I don’t believe in either this or that. I believe in all or nothing.”

Finally, he has the sense of inherent security and magnanimity that allows him to share credit with others. A rare quality in our industry where an important aspect of brand building is building one’s own personal brand to the exclusion of others.
It goes without saying that Sundar is one of the most influential people in our industry.

But more importantly, for me, he's one of the most genuine human beings in our industry and that’s really saying something.

Founder, Canco Advertising
Comments (17)
Monica Sharma (Guest) This article perfectly illustrates the man that is Sundar.
23 Dec 2015 Reply
Shireen Saxena (Guest) Sundar is a selfless man and a fair one. People in this industry don't always share credit, but Sundar, always gives people their dues. 
22 Dec 2015 Reply
Vani Deshpande (Guest) His attention to detail is one of the best things about Sundar. He takes care of the minute things. 
21 Dec 2015 Reply
Tejas Sethi (Guest) Mr. Swamy has a beautiful mind and is a gem of a person. I've not worked directly with him, but I've heard a great deal about him. 
18 Dec 2015 Reply
Tridib Ghosh (Guest) Awesome write-up indeed! Wonderfully crafted.
17 Dec 2015 Reply
Anahita Gupta (Guest) This article is an ode to Srinivasan Swamy. Well written!
17 Dec 2015 Reply
R.V.Rajan (Guest) A wonderful tribute to a very deserving person. I have known Sundar for the last 30 years and have worked with him closely on many  projects connected with Advertising Club ,Madras and Consumers Association of India . Like his father he also believes in calling a spade a spade but does it without hurting people.  To overcome the resistance posed by the Bombay advertising world in the intitial years and rise to such great heights is surely a remarkable achievement. I have great regards for him. He deserves the AAAof I Award for outstanding service to the industry.
17 Dec 2015 Reply
Ritwik Pandey (Guest) The amount of energy he exudes is almost child-like.. so exuberant and lively.
16 Dec 2015 Reply
Claire George (Guest) It was really a pleasure to work with him. President of steroids.his Jokes and humour lighten the situation. Written so well
16 Dec 2015 Reply
Vasundhara Raghavan (Guest) What a wonderful tribute! 
16 Dec 2015 Reply
Rachita Changra (Guest) Sundar seems like a guy who loves to challenge himself and others! It can make for a fun and fulfilling work environment and personally too, a better life. 
16 Dec 2015 Reply
Binny Suresh (Guest) Sundar seems like an all or nothing guy. He puts his all in any task that he does. 
15 Dec 2015 Reply
Monica Tamta (Guest) President on steroids? That is indeed an apt name for Sundar.
15 Dec 2015 Reply
Antara Shrivastava (Guest) I guess genuine people are not easy to come by in this industry. And meeting one is a rarity. Sundar is definitely one of the better ones.
15 Dec 2015 Reply
Suresh subramanium (Guest) Nice title to this piece... says a lot
15 Dec 2015 Reply
rohini sharma (Guest) Certainly one of the most influential people in the industry for a while now. And Sundar's pic does make him look like a dashing intellectual-:)
15 Dec 2015 Reply
Vishakha Narayan (Guest) Wow!!! Three consecutive years as the president of AAA! He must have been absolutely brilliant.
15 Dec 2015 Reply

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