The road to being the #1

The SBU I was handling was still relatively small.

We needed billing from more marquee clients.

And our PR consultancy was going after it with great determination.

Having won the mandate for one of India’s largest organisations whetted our appetite for more. It also opened doors to clients which had been shut before.

It also threw up opportunities which we had not really pushed the envelope on…our branch network.

Bangalore was the one which represented the biggest opportunity.

So it was no surprise when one day, my MD asked me, ‘Atul, can you travel to Bangalore with me in a couple of days?’

I was free so I agreed.

On the flight, he explained that he was trying to build the Bangalore branch, since he saw great opportunities there. There was no reason for me to disagree, because I felt the same. We had to grow because there was a huge opportunity waiting.

I know that he had some opportunity on his mind, or some lead, when we landed in Bangalore.

Because the first thing he said to the cab driver, when we got into the car was ‘Electronics City le chalo’.

Having worked as Marketing Head for Accenture in Bangalore, I knew where Electronics City was.

I asked him, ‘Boss, why are we going to Electronic City?’

His response, which encapsulated his thinking was, ‘Atul, there are opportunities there. And to grow our Bangalore branch, we have to seize these opportunities’.

It reiterated the fact that MB always knew, and still knows about opportunities. His strategic brain does not miss out on anything. If at all, he can be a little ‘pushy’, but he is rarely wrong. I have had my differences with him, but could never fault his thinking.

‘So, where are we going’, I asked him.

He mentioned the name of the second largest IT services firm in the country, which flabbergasted me.

‘Why me?’, I recall asking him.

His response was equally illuminating.

‘Atul, you are the only person who has worked with IT services firms earlier, and if we get this business, your SBU will benefit.’

He also added, ‘I would suggest that you start hiring for this mandate, which is ours for the taking’.

There is a back story to this comment that he had just made.

This company (the second largest IT firm), had actually floated an RFP some time back. Our firm had applied but had not been selected.

Then a crisis had engulfed this firm and the chosen agency post the RFP was unable to cope.

The firm’s Chairman (a well – respected figure and a doyen of the banking industry) had suggested our name to the Firm’s Founder – an icon, who was also heading the firm at that point.

And it was to meet him that we had travelled to Bangalore!

I was awestruck when we entered the company’s campus – it was just out of this world.

Our first meeting was with the head of Marketing and the CFO. Both of them explained the nature of the challenge they faced, and what they expected from us. They were okay with the account being overseen from Mumbai, but wanted a strong on ground team in Bangalore.

The discussions were brief. We also had a briefer meeting with the MD of the company. By the time the meeting was done, the contract was ready to be signed. You know, when speed is of the essence, even the slowest process moves like lightningJ.

In a couple of hours, meeting done, we got back into our car. That’s when my MD said, ‘Congratulations. But you need to stay on in Bangalore for a few days and interview candidates. I have spread the word around and there are at least 5-6 people you need to meet. We have to make offers immediately, so please be in touch with me on the phone at regular intervals.’

The next few days were spent meeting candidates at the Hotel Oberoi. The interviews were all informal, but very fruitful. 7 candidates met. 5 offers made. 4 joined in less than a month! Call it the attraction of servicing a blue chip clientJ.

In next to no time, our team in Bangalore was in place. My Chairman – RC, and me did media rounds in Bangalore and understood the nature of the challenge being faced by the client. A strategy was put into place in less than a week. And things started working smoothly in less than a month!

Some other interesting things happened thanks to our firm having signed up with two of India’s best known companies in less than 3 months.

The firm’s profile soared, and more so in Bangalore, where we signed up another MNC client in the IT space. I believe that these two clients were the reason why the firm started getting so many requests from potential clients in Bangalore. We ended up signing up a few more, and moving into a far larger office. Today, the Bangalore branch of my former firm is possibly the largest office – in terms of billing as well as office space.

For me personally, it was a hugely satisfying feeling as well. I had started a new SBU with one client, and now we had added 2 more in Bangalore – both very well-known and respected names. Within the agency, more people wanted to move into my SBU. Even the new candidates we interviewed mentioned that they were interested in joining our firm because they would like to service any one of the three clients being handled by the SBU.

All of this also led to my SBU being adjudged the best performing SBU in the firm, which was a cherished accolade for all the team. I also think that somewhere, many others were jealous of our success (in a good way), and we got all the support required from the entire firm whenever we wanted it.

Of the greatest significance possibly, was the fact that our Bangalore success put our consultancy firmly on the path to the #1 ranking of PR consultancies – something we achieved a short while thereafter!

But none of this would have been possible without the phenomenal support of MB – our MD; RC – our Chairman; as indeed the rest of our consultancy, who never thought twice before extending a helping hand.

A million thanks are due to them.


  1. Business opportunities are all around, but never easy to spot. My MD had the knack, and so do all of us. Just keep your eyes and ears open.
  2. One success invariably leads to another. But that is only if you do not rest on your laurels. Stay hungry always.
  3. Always have different sources of information. For our Bangalore blue chip client, we learnt about the real reasons for the challenges they were facing from the media. Had we listened only to the client, we would never have been able to figure out the real problem and then solve it.
  4. Too many of us think in compartments. Sure people may be from different teams. But when you need help, keep egos aside and ask for it. You will rarely be disappointed.
  5. Move fast. Tomorrow may never come.

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Atul Takle
German interpreter. Advertising executive. Client. PR partner.

Lintas. Indian Express. RPG. TCS. Accenture. Future Group. SKS Microfinance. Adfactors PR.

International guest lecturer. Avid Traveler.

Pet friendly. Music friendly. Movie friendly. Book friendly.

Generally friendly.

Covid times cook. All times a foodie.

Mad about soccer. Mad about F1 racing. Mad about cricket.

Mad with Trump.

Sometimes writer.

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