Meet Yash Samat. She is crystal clear – the consumer, the brand, the money has all changed and so must we. The newly appointed chairperson and managing director, GREY Group India says the task on the desk has no bells and whistles, it’s all work. She has built a 25-year-long career at the agency managing their biggest business, the P&G account.

What’s the view from the top in the world of advertising?

In the VUCA world…no one has the blueprint. We have to change with agility while enhancing the quality of our product… we are learning and evolving every single day. As clients are also re-thinking how they view the advertising agency and what we bring to the table…we are looking to unlock the best talent pool, structure and make the ideal offering to our brands.

Yash Samat Speaks to SheThePeople
Yash Samat Speaks to SheThePeople

What does this position mean to you?

The role demands driving the advertising and communications business…with best in class creative output. I need to take Grey and our work to the next level, in terms of creative quality and how we engage with our consumers more deeply especially in the digital world. What do we change in our talent mix to make sure we are an agency of the future? Also looking into what we will buy or borrow in our quest to get there. I think for our clients also the reality is that the consumer is changing dramatically. How he or she engages with brands, media and how they spend their money. The landscape has changed completely and we all have had to change too to stay relevant today.

Feminising a product or service is something I am still finding answers to. I don’t think pink colour or making a product much more ‘gentle’ is relevant communication – Yash Samat

 We have often claimed there are enough women in media and marketing in India but as a woman in the corner office what are your views on this?

To be honest, advertising in a way, has been at the forefront of attracting women. At junior to mid levels, we have many working. But as you go from mid to senior to right at the top, they disappear. Advertising really slogs you and expects too much time and effort and so there are reasons. Women sometimes choose to opt out because the time and money equation isn’t working for them. Most importantly, the time we need to work to get to the top and the childbearing years, women make choices they want to. Not just agencies, but all corporates need to think about how they can make it easier for women to add value they inherently bring. I have been here for 25 years, I think Grey allowed me to have the career I wanted without having to make compromises. There was a time I had a son, my husband was moving and I had to for nearly 10 years, I had to be okay with a good package and a less ambitious role. But when he went to college, I was back in the game.

Career Tip: For women, it’s alright to have to take personal decisions in different times of their career. You won’t be stuck there forever. Career graphs change all the time

 As the global lead on Grey’s largest business, P&G what insights do you have on women’s consumption patterns?

Women are much more financially independent now, doing their own things, taking their own calls. There is a lot that’s happening.
  1. A lot of family consumption, where women already made the decision, we are seeing the advertising is very relatable to the independent women.
  2. At another level, many services are getting designed for women. Even for example, financial products.
  3. On nutrition, pharma, hygiene there is more research and products for women.
  4. Also male dominated / centric products are also seen doing stuff for women. Examples are alcohol and cars.

Feminising a product or service is something I am still finding answers to. I don’t think pink colour or making a product much more ‘gentle’ is relevant communication. For example, are women looking for feminine beers?

 What are your personal pay-it-forward goals for women?

I feel fortunate for the family I was raised in and the opportunities I got and even the man I married. Some of my career development was planned. A lot happened by serendipity. We are setting up a cohort of women in WPP companies, and how we mentor and guide and help younger colleagues in a way that they can navigate the WPP system for their own growth.

I also work closely with my female colleagues in their career planning and pushing them a bit. I encourage them not to give up and take opportunities overseas to expose themselves to new ideas and markets.

 Why do you believe the time has come to reinvent the agency model?

 I think we are late already in thinking of it. Take a look at some reasons
  • Consumers have changed completely
  • How they interact with brands is now different
  • Brands want to engage with consumers in a new way, and therefore how they connect with agencies has evolved
  • The kind of communications we need to design has evolved tremendously. A great idea can change the product is a basic very established fact in advertising but the ‘how’ of it has transformed
  • The world of communications thanks to Facebook and Google is a new landscape of how we consume and what we consume. We need to function in this world, in a different way now.

Having said that, advertising agencies know how to do great brand communications because we have great talent. We need to focus on repackaging that talent and its focus.

 Do women leads at agencies bring different perspectives to the table? How?

Without generalising, I do believe women bring better team dynamic, a new and gentler way of handling business, may be more EQ combined with high IQ and that makes the company work better. For me, it’s important that at the top we have a good mix of people. I believe a diverse group is a better group.

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