Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Pradeep Guha’s defining moments

Pradeep Guha is a man who backs his intuition to the hilt. Be it in print (at The Times of India Group) or TV (at Zee), Pradeep Guha has facilitated changes that the industry marvelled at. From print to TV to movies (he produced Fiza), Guha's instinct for making the right moves has made him a legend. Here, PG, as he is commonly known, shares some of the defining moments of his career, which spans almost three decades, writes Sapna Nair In Excerpts from her interview:

At Bennett Coleman & Co. Ltd, he was sent to Kolkata as head of the Eastern region, with general management responsibilities, in 1983. This was the time when Sameer Jain was inducted as executive director. It was fortuitous for him, as with Jain, he could look at broader issues concerning The Times of India. This association brought both of them close. That friendship lasted right through his career in The Times of India and continues even today.

“Why I call it a defining moment is because at a very early point in my career, I got the opportunity to work closely with an entrepreneur who had the ability to take risks and make significant changes to his company,” says Guha.

The next big moment in his career came in 1988 when The Times of India was in its 150th year. The late Nandita Jain (Sameer's sister) and Guha were entrusted the task of handling the celebrations of the 150th year in a manner that would change the brand profile of The Times of India.

What followed was one of the biggest branding exercises ever in the history of Indian media, perhaps in the history of Indian brands as well. The Times of India used to be referred to as the Old Lady of Boribunder and was seen as a fuddy-duddy company. The journey to transform a brand from one-of-many to an exclusive one meant making changes, ranging from renovating the office to complex ones like changing the pricing strategy.

A critical defining moment in Guha’s career came when he decided that he had had enough of print. “Media was becoming more digital and the Internet had just come in. The closest digital platform that I could find at that time was TV and the offer from the Zee Network came at an opportune moment. I took it thinking it would be just another medium, but once I got in, I was shocked. Print and television are like chalk and cheese. The only similarity is that both cater to mass audiences,” says Guha.

“Before I get into anything, it is my heart (or is it gut?) that tells me whether I should get in. The mind takes over thereafter,” he says.


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