Sanjay Gupta is all set to join Google as its new Country Manager and Vice President of Sales and Operations in India early next year, after a particularly successful stint as Managing Director, Star & Disney India. As Gupta steps into the shoes of Rajan Anandan, who moved out of Google eight months ago to become Managing Director at Sequoia Capital India, he has the work started by Rajan set out before him - contribute to the company’s ongoing efforts to expand the Internet ecosystem in the country, drive Internet adoption among consumers and businesses and accelerate innovation.
Gupta will be based out of Mumbai, and work closely with the teams based in Gurgaon, Hyderabad and Bangalore.
Media reports quoted Gupta as saying that he is “delighted to take on the challenge of leading and shaping Google’s charter in India”. “It is an exciting opportunity to leverage the power of technology to solve some of India’s unique challenges and make the Internet an engine of economic growth for people and communities. I am happy to join the passionate teams across Google and look forward to contributing to India’s digital journey as it becomes an innovation hub for the world,” Gupta was quoted as saying.
His departure is a big personal loss to me. Above and beyond anyone else, Sanjay has been the person who has taken charge of my craziest ideas. He leaves a void in my life that would be impossible to fill
President, The Walt Disney Company Asia Pacific and Chairman of Star and Disney India
Commenting on the appointment, Scott Beaumont, President of APAC, Google said, “Our ongoing engagement in India is a source of pride for both our Googlers in India and also around the world. Our Indian operation is important and strategic for its own sake but also for the innovation which then feeds breakthroughs elsewhere in Google. We are delighted to have Sanjay join us. We are excited to combine his expertise, experience and leadership with our teams and build further on our existing efforts in this highly dynamic, competitive and exciting digital economy, looking to build a more helpful and inclusive Internet for everyone in India.”
GUPTA’S GROWTH TRAJECTORY
Gupta played an instrumental role in Star India’s growth, making it the largest media company in the country, along with Uday Shankar. He played an instrumental role in extending the network’s traditional television content to digital consumers through its OTT platform, Hotstar. He is also widely credited for building Star’s sports business via the acquisition of marquee cricketing properties and launch of the Kabaddi and football leagues: Pro Kabaddi League and Indian Super League respectively. To him goes the credit for Star’s unprecedented growth on the back of bullish risks, strategy and vision in entertainment, sports, digital and studios. Through his tenure at the Star network, he had led the growth agenda in India, where he focussed on creating enduring, local stories and made them available across linear and digital platforms. Gupta, a post graduate from the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Kolkata, and an engineer from Delhi College of Engineering, has displayed deep consumer understanding, using it to build strong brands in his career spanning nearly three decades. During his time at Hindustan Unilever, he led the marketing for two of the company’s critical segments: Oral and Home Care. Prior to that, as Chief Marketing Officer for the mobile business at Bharti Airtel, he spearheaded several successful sales and marketing initiatives.
HIGH PRAISE FROM INDUSTRY LEADERS
In an internal email sent to the employees at Star, that we could access, Uday Shankar, President, The Walt Disney Company Asia Pacific and Chairman of Star and Disney India, spoke highly and most graciously about Gupta and expressed appreciation for his immense contribution to the company. He termed Gupta’s departure from the organisation a “personal loss”. “I am writing to share something that is of deep significance to not just Star India and to me personally, but also I am sure, to each one of you. So critical has been Sanjay Gupta’s contribution in building Star India into one of the finest and most successful M&E companies in Asia that I would be undermining his contribution. However, (what I) want to share is what an amazing friend and thought partner Sanjay has been to me personally. I have always talked about what an amazing team we have... There is no one quite gifted as Sanjay in the entire Indian M&E sector. Based on my experience, I can say that there are few like him. His departure is a big personal loss to me. Above and beyond anyone else, Sanjay has been the person who has taken charge of my craziest ideas. He leaves a void in my life that would be impossible to fill. But that’s life. The great company that Sanjay built must continue to scale greater heights and that will require each one of us to step up...make arrangements to deal with his absence with as little disruption as possible. I am grateful to him for that,” Shankar wrote in his mail.
Earlier this year, Gupta was conferred with the exchange4media Influencer of the Year award. Throughout his tenure at the Star network, Gupta has earned great appreciation and respect from several industry leaders and his peers in the media and advertising sector. Industry leaders showered praise on Gupta after he won the award. “Sanjay is a fantastic business professional and also a very dear friend. He has been working very silently behind the scenes, to drive change and transformation at Star. He is deeply rooted in his knowledge of the consumer or viewer and that has really benefited his organisation. Those of us who work closely with him realise that he is a professional who is extremely fair in all his dealings. It has been a real pleasure working with him all these years, and I look forward to many more,” said CVL Srinivas, Country Manager-India, WPP.
Shashi Sinha, CEO, IPG Mediabrands India, said, “Sanjay has repeatedly done breakthrough work and always taken forward-looking steps. I really thought getting into IPL, both Hotstar and TV broadcast; was a big, bold, gutsy move.”
“His sharpness and his ability to look at things from a lateral perspective, are two aspects which have always been interesting. Another interesting quality of his is that he always challenges the status quo,” said Prasanth Kumar, CEO, GroupM-South Asia.
Now, the industry will wait and watch to see what Gupta brings to his new role, and the focus areas for him as he goes about the Google mandate. We wish him all the very best.