Regarded as one of the finest thought-leaders in the Media, Marketing, Advertising and Corporate Leadership sphere, Sunil Lulla (Chairman & Managing Director, GREY group India) shares some of his insights, beliefs, and vision over the course of his exhilarating career with Leaderspeak.


Here are some highlights from the session:

Tell me about Sunil Lulla – Chairman and MD, GREY group India.

I’m a non-entity. To me, who I am is irrelevant. I have worked for more than 34 years of my life, and in all of these years, I have always worked for somebody else’s money, not my own, and largely speaking, as a corporate person, you land up wearing the garb of the corporate. So, here I am with Grey, there I used to be with Times, then I used to be Sony or Indya, or JWT or MTV, right? So you land up being the garb, by and large, most part of the day, of what you are representing.

Did you always want to be in media and marketing?

No, I wanted to be a pilot when I was a kid. (Smiles) And I feel my dream has come true — I’m on a plane every week; only thing is I’m not flying it, right? So you should never ask for something you’re going to regret and I did. That’s only lesson I have learnt. As I studied and as I got educated, I had a greater sense of interest in two subjects — one was management, the other was marketing. And this is many years back — the early ’80s, when India was not what it is today. The economy was still tightly controlled, demand-supply was at an imbalance, there were not more than 2 or 3 players in a category. Advertising was very different, marketing was very different from what it is today. But that interest has not waned; it has only grown. I get much less time to read, I get much less time to think about these subjects, but I continue to enjoy and vicariously learn from everything that I do.

So how is working  an agency different  what you were doing?

It’s like being in a sauna bath  24 hours. It is very hectic.It’s very transactional, it’s also great fun. Because I think the people are cooler in terms of the fact that you can crack a lot more jokes, you can enjoy life a little more, you exchange a lot. One big advantage is the horizontality you get in terms of learning — across categories. At least  me, I now understand 20 categories better than understanding five, and that is a great insight across consumers. And you learn to solve problems, you become a better problem-solver. I think much has been written untunately about advertising people, in a way, but you eventually become better people because you’re humbler in my view. All businesses with deep customer focuses make you more humble.



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