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Gautam Reghunath, CEO, Dentsu Webchutney
Reghunath admits his nervousness. However, he is all set to take up this new responsibility. He shares with us his visi...
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Expectations from Dentsu Webchutney have never been higher: Gautam Reghunath, Dentsu Webchutney

Reghunath admits his nervousness. However, he is all set to take up this new responsibility. He shares with us his visi...
  • As Gautam Reghunath gets elevated to the role of Chief Executive Officer at Dentsu Webchutney, we take a look at his journey in the industry so far, discuss the challenges of filling in Sidharth Rao's shoes, the opportunities that lie ahead for the industry and his vision for the agency.
  • Prior to this, Reghunath was executive Vice President (EVP) and Branch Head for Dentsu Webchutney, Bangalore.
Gautam Reghunath started his journey with Dentsu Webchutney 10 years ago. Earlier this week, he was elevated as the Chief Executive Officer of the agency after Sidharth Rao, erstwhile CEO, was promoted to the position of Chairman, Happy mcgarrybowen India and Dentsu Webchutney.

Dentsu Webchutney, under the leadership of Sidharth Rao in 2019, set a precedent for the entire digital industry. It brought digital to the forefront by winning one silver, five bronze and 17 shortlists at Cannes Lions for its work on Swiggy, Uri and Flipkart. Rao also walked away with the highest honors at Abby’s and Spikes Asia.

About keeping this momentum going in 2020 and attempting to fill in Rao’s shoes, Reghunath admits his nervousness. However, he is all set to take up this new responsibility. He shares with us his vision for the agency and challenges that lie ahead for the industry.

Edited excerpts:

Q) What is your vision for Dentsu Webchutney? What will be the newer challenges for you?
Over 20 years, Dentsu Webchutney has become an incredible brand of its own and I’ve been privileged to spend 10 of those years here. Our client roster features some of the most consequential companies in the world, and our work follows their world-beating ambition. I see talented people around me eager to make meaningful contributions and the outstanding results that follow when we empower them. My immediate hope is to help double down on this and everything else that has made us tick these last few years.

Over the next few years, I see the challenge of rising to the speed and potential of our clients. We also want to continue attracting clients across cities that are into the type of work that we do; brands with brave marketing teams that are ready to be disruptive with us. Personally, my role will be to define and maintain culture and values for our company, and to endorse the smart decisions made by our already smart, intuitive workforce. Just to support the right people to make good decisions in alignment with our core values. I’m confident that this team has my back as I’ve got theirs.

Q) What will be your focus areas in 2020 and your strategy as the CEO?

From an industry perspective, there is a sense that advertising globally finds itself in tricky waters. While Webchutney’s business has maintained its consistent growth over the last few years, we still have the potential to catch up with the opportunities that lie in front of us. There are strong clients out there, in a challenging business environment, who want to partner with only the best. The current climate demands that they do. No one is better placed to deliver than us because of our advantage in strong talent. And that’s where a lot of my key focus is going to be. It will be our foundation for the future. When a client chooses Webchutney, I want them to know that we are committed to putting the smartest and most creative people in the room for their money's worth. I want to call out the best talent in our industry to join us on this ride.

Q) Webchutney had a brilliant year in 2019. How will you ensure that you keep the momentum going?

I agree, and we’re all very grateful for the success that 2019 brought for us. While much of our public success is recent, it’s obvious that our industry cannot rest on its past, and we can sense how rapidly it’s all changing. I can confirm that our feet are planted firmly on the ground. Our teams understand that the expectations from Dentsu Webchutney have never been higher. Advertising is a special business to be in. It needs passion, patience and a consistent desire to seek out moments of genius. So, we’re just going to continue to try and keep doing what we do best to realise the truest potential of the internet. Inside our four walls and three offices, the best idea wins.

Q) Do you think it is going to be difficult to fill in Sidharth Rao's shoes?

Absolutely! Replicating his journey is impossible. Sid is an important part of our future and as I mentioned to our colleagues on email, I’m very humbled to follow in his footsteps. He’s someone I reach out to at both my toughest and happiest moments. Hence, I’m so glad to have him by my side as I take on this responsibility. I’m also privileged to find myself in a position to lead a company I have grown to love immensely, having spent the better part of the last 10 years here. Our collective task across our three offices will be to take Webchutney to new heights.

Q) What will be the biggest challenges and opportunities for digital agencies in 2020? How are you preparing yourself to face it?

Well, it’s our time! All of us ‘digital’ first agencies have graduated from getting those last 10 minutes at client meetings to now leading complete brand mandates. I look around at the founding and operating teams at India-born, digital first agencies like The Glitch, Schbang, Kinnect etc. and they’re all brimming with young, world-class leadership. I’d say our collective opportunity is in sustaining this relevance and making the most of it. The talent on our floors have a natural advantage in comparison to the older agencies but it’s not a long-term moat by any stretch of the imagination.

As for Dentsu Webchutney, we want to be the absolute best creative agency India has seen. That means being counted among the best globally. We must continue to adapt and build for today and the future, not rest on the past. There’s no two ways about it. Our talent has a natural affinity for keeping up with technology, the internet and modern communication channels. At the same time, we’re focusing on building a nimble agency that is very comfortable seeking external expert collaboration when needed. That’s primarily how we’re preparing to face the next few years. We’re rolling out specific initiatives in this direction very soon.

Q) What are the plans for 2020, in terms of expansion, new business targets, talent acquisition, and technology development?

Specifically, growth will come from scaling Webchutney’s unique creative and strategy product. Our talent will be at the heart of representing our work — as it should be. The ebb and flow of technologies today leave a lot to the imagination of the people who work with them, and our digitally native workforce has been key to embedding that spirit in the company’s DNA. I’d go as far as saying that’s always been our goal and will be as we begin scripting a new chapter in our story.