Krea University begins search for next Vice-Chancellor

Krea University begins search for next Vice-Chancellor

Krea University’s current Vice-Chancellor, Dr Sunder Ramaswamy concludes his current term in June 2021 and has expressed his desire to return to the United States for compelling personal reasons. With deep gratitude for his contributions, the University has accepted his request.

Dr Sunder Ramaswamy joined Krea as its first Vice-Chancellor in 2017. Sunder has played a pivotal role in Krea’s success in the first phase of its journey. With his vast experience in innovative higher education in the US and India, he has put the University on a strong footing as it moves into the second phase of its journey.

Krea University has commenced the search for its next Vice-Chancellor. A Search Committee has been established to run the recruitment for this role with support from the specialist firm, Egon Zehnder to manage the search process. The University expects to complete the recruitment process by April 2021.

Further details are available here.

Dr Sunder will continue to function as the Vice-Chancellor of Krea University through the academic year 2020-2021, while the search is underway. He will ensure a smooth transition, and subsequently continue to contribute to Krea in an advisory and visiting capacity.

IFMR GSB’s student-led marketing committee launches ‘Prayatna’

IFMR GSB’s student-led marketing committee launches ‘Prayatna’

Markaholic, IFMR GSB’s student-led marketing committee, along with the Graduate School of Business’ notable alumni, recently launched an informative marketing workshop series titled ‘Prayatna’. The committee’s first workshop featured Amandeep Singh Kochar – Business Director at VMLY&R, New Delhi and an alumnus of IFMR GSB. Having worked with well-known brands such as TCS, Fresh Marketing Idea,, KRDS, and Brandmovers, Amandeep shared his own experience and ideas on marketing, business development, creative strategies, and more in his session – ‘Succeeding in the World of Direct to Consumer (DTC)’.

Moving forward, the committee plans to host a marketing workshop every fortnight for a couple of hours, in a bid to inform students about all the trending marketing job roles in the industry, spread awareness about all the necessary skills required to excel in the field, engage in discussion through various practical demonstrations and activities, and, ultimately, build a strong student alumni network.

IFMR GSB’s Analytics Club holds its first event of the year

IFMR GSB’s Analytics Club holds its first event of the year

IFMR Graduate School of Business (GSB) has always fostered an engaging learning environment not only through academics but also through the University’s several student-led committees and clubs. In the first of many, the Analytics Club at GSB conducted its first-ever event of the year – ‘The Commencement’. The Analytics Club advocates itself as a platform to help students learn more about data tools and techniques in the business world. The event, with around 40 students in attendance, included multiple quiz rounds and a few creative, number-crunching activities. The scoring of the event depended on the number of likes and votes each team earned via social media. Two teams – InPrecision and Byte-Bits – were declared the winners owing to their high cumulative scores. Moving forward, the club aims to further its mission of using data as a storytelling tool through several such events.

IFMR establishes Atal Incubation Centre ‘Catalyst’ in Jaipur

IFMR establishes Atal Incubation Centre ‘Catalyst’ in Jaipur

IFMR Society has set up an Atal Incubation Centre (AIC), Catalyst, under the aegis of the Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), which is a flagship initiative of NITI Aayog. Established as a Section 8 entity, Catalyst AIC seeks to accelerate innovative, disruptive and inclusive tech solutions for the last mile. Over a five-year period, the program will work towards building a robust support system for entrepreneurs working to enhance livelihood opportunities for underserved segments in rural India, with a focus on rural artisans.

Home to a 200 million-plus strong artisan community, India’s handicrafts and handloom sector is deeply linked with its cultural heritage and is a crucial pillar to provide sustainable livelihood opportunities in rural areas. With the exception of a few supply chains, the sector is largely unorganised, and artisans have poor access to formal capital, weak exposure to new technologies, and markets. Inclusive tech applications, combined with relevant livelihood initiatives, can bring artisans into the fold of the formal economy, nurture greater inclusion and growth in rural areas.

The Catalyst AIC focuses on solutions that seek to strengthen access to digital financial services, improve supply chain management, skill development and workforce management, among others. It is unique in its value proposition as it provides startups with real-world test environments to rapidly test, iterate and deploy their solutions and integrate data-driven insights on their consumer segments to improve product design and delivery.

Located in Jaipur, the Catalyst AIC offers a dedicated incubation space of approx. 10,000 sq. ft. to incubatees. As part of the incubation program, selected incubatees will receive support in identifying target customer segments, piloting solutions, access to domain experts and fine-tuning business models, drawing on IFMR’s thought leadership and research centre LEAD at Krea University’s deep expertise in field-based research. Drawing on a broad spectrum of partners from the IFMR-Krea ecosystem, the Catalyst AIC incubation program will also facilitate relevant partnerships with educational and research institutes, corporates, startup ecosystem players, and investors.

Dr Sunder Ramaswamy, Vice Chancellor of Krea University shared, “The Catalyst AIC reflects our ethos to nurture an inclusive ecosystem built on exchange of knowledge, ideas, insights and meaningful collaborations. It also strengthens our vision to interweave high quality research with impactful solutions on the ground”.

“While urban India has seen rapid digitisation of processes and systems across all domains through startups, India’s last mile communities have been left largely unserved. With Catalyst AIC, we aim to provide a holistic support ecosystem for inclusive tech startups, building solutions for the last mile. We believe that with the right support systems in place, India has the capability and capacity to produce the next high performance business model, exclusively serving these vastly untapped, underserved communities.”, said Deepanshu Khandelwal, CEO of Catalyst AIC. He has previously worked with EY in the form of a consultant to state governments on their startup policies. He has worked with startups extensively over the past seven years. Deepanshu is also the founder of digital news media company, Blue Box Media.

“A key component of the Catalyst AIC Incubator is to provide in-depth granular research that helps start-ups. LEAD has extensive experience in understanding how to best cater to the last mile. This knowledge and expertise will be instrumental in providing ground-level insights on the artisan segment. It will enable the creation of tailor-made products for the last-mile, and importantly, those that are women-centric – taking into account their requirements, challenges and what works equally for men and women.” said Sharon Buteau, Executive Director of LEAD at Krea University. Over the past decade, Sharon has been working on understanding how co-creation, collaborative processes, as well using the power of technology and data from the ground up can improve socio-economic outcomes for individuals, households and enterprises. She focuses on bringing the right combination of talent, expertise and stakeholders together to ensure that investments and efforts are perfectly aligned with the desired goals.

The first phase of the Catalyst initiative was funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), under the mSTAR Program to increase adoption of digital payments in India. Under a partnership with the Government of Rajasthan, LEAD set up a first of its kind digital payments lab in Jaipur to enable small merchants and low-income consumers move towards a less cash economy.

The Incubator will be formally launched shortly. This will be followed by a call for applications for the first cohort of startups.

Dr Ramachandra Guha as Distinguished University Professor at Krea University

Ramachandra Guha

Krea University welcomes Dr Ramachandra Guha as Distinguished University Professor.
Dr Guha will teach classes, interact with students, work with colleagues on curricular development, and help build the vision of Krea.

Dr. Ramachandra Guha is a noted historian and biographer based in Bengaluru. He has taught at the universities of Yale and Stanford, held the Arné Naess Chair at the University of Oslo, and served as the Philippe Roman Professor of History and International Affairs at the London School of Economics and as the Satish Dhawan Visiting Professor at the Indian Institute of Science.

Guha’s books include a pioneering environmental history, The Unquiet Woods (University of California Press, 1989), and an award-winning social history of cricket, A Corner of a Foreign Field (Picador, 2002), which was chosen by The Guardian as one of the ten best books on cricket ever written. India after Gandhi (Macmillan/Ecco Press, 2007) was chosen as a book of the year by the Economist, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the San Francisco ChronicleTime Out, and Outlook, and as a book of the decade in the Times of India, the Times of London, and The Hindu.

His awards include the Leopold-Hidy Prize of the American Society of Environmental History, the Daily Telegraph/Cricket Society prize, the Malcolm Adiseshiah Award for excellence in social science research, the Ramnath Goenka Prize for excellence in journalism, the Sahitya Akademi Award, and the R. K. Narayan Prize. In 2009, he was awarded the Padma Bhushan, the Republic of India’s third highest civilian honour. In 2008, and again in 2013, Prospect magazine nominated Guha as one of the world’s most influential intellectuals. In 2014, he was awarded an honorary doctorate in the humanities by Yale University. In 2015, he was awarded the Fukuoka Prize for contributions to Asian studies. In 2019, he was made a Honorary Foreign Member of the American Historical Association, only the third Indian to be given that honour.

New Faculty appointments at Krea


We are glad to announce that Prof K S Viswanathan, Prof Vivek Bhandari, Prof Gaurav S Ghosh, Prof Pritha Chakrabarti, Prof Sushant Kumar Raut, Prof Amrita Narayanan, Prof Vaishali Sharma, Prof Joya John, Prof Abuthair, Prof Ovee Thorat, Prof Sayantan Datta and Prof Neha Mishra have joined Krea University.

Prof K. S. Viswanathan has joined as Visiting Professor of Chemistry, SIAS.

Viswanathan’s research interests have spanned the areas of molecular conformations and weak non-covalent interactions, particularly the hydrogen bonding interactions, which pervades through all of chemistry, physics and biology. Matrix isolation spectroscopy, a method where isolated molecules are trapped in a cryogenic solid inert gas matrix, was the experimental technique used for these studies. The trapped molecules were then probed using infrared spectroscopy. The experimental results were corroborated using ab initio quantum chemical computations. These studies resulted in a detailed understanding of the structure and energetics of hydrogen bonded complexes. Recent studies of his group on conformations of amino acids, an important class of biomolecules, revealed a very interesting and restrictive structural preference that these molecules adopt, with respect to their backbone, comprising of the COOH and NH2 moieties. In addition, his research group has also been interested in lanthanide fluorescence, specifically to develop methods for the enhancement of fluorescence in an attempt to develop sensitive analytical methods. Enhancement of fluorescence by a factor of over 10,000 was achieved by choosing appropriate ligands as energy transfer agents. He has also been interested in the use of mass spectroscopy for analytical applications.

Prof Vivek Bhandari joins as Visiting Professor of History, SIAS.

Vivek Bhandari is a historian with a particular interest in issues of culture and power as these are manifest in the historical evolution of participatory politics, public culture, and democratic institutions.  After a decade as a faculty member at Hampshire College (where he also taught at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and Mt. Holyoke College), Vivek served as Director, and Professor of Social Science at the Institute of Rural Management, Anand (IRMA).  In his role as director of IRMA, he worked closely with the cooperative sector, and in 2008-9 co-authored India’s first comprehensive analysis of Panchayati Raj institutions while also researching Maoist movements and contentious issues of land acquisition, and more generally, sustainable development.  For the past decade, Vivek has taught at the National Institute of Design (NID), and the Young India Fellowship Program (associated with Ashoka University). He has a particular interest in financial technology and rural livelihoods, and since 2017, has served as chairman and independent director of the Jio Payments Bank, a joint venture of the State Bank of India and Reliance Jio. Vivek is an alumnus of St. Stephen’s College, and the University of Pennsylvania from where he received an M.A. in South Asian Studies and Ph.D. in history. 

Prof Gaurav S. Ghosh joins as Visiting Associate Professor of Economics, SIAS.

Gaurav is an economist with research, policy development, and private sector consulting experience. Along with his current association with Krea, he is a senior economist at EY, the consulting firm. Before joining EY, he spent two years as a post-doctoral researcher at RWTH Aachen University, Germany. He has a PhD from Pennsylvania State University, an M.A. from Jawaharlal Nehru University, and a B.A. from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai. In recent engagements at EY, Gaurav has consulted with central government ministries on the impact of taxes (like the GST) on investment incentives in the Indian economy. He has also set up a behavioral economics practice and consults widely on the transfer pricing of financial transactions within MNCs. In previous projects, he has delved into antitrust, the valuation of intellectual property, and understanding the complexities of asset-backed securitizations. Energy and the environment have been constant themes in Gaurav’s non-consulting research. He has investigated diverse topics in this area using surveys, experiments, concepts from behavioral economics, and a variety of econometric methods. One strand of research investigated consumer demand for energy and energy-related products. Here, Gaurav and collaborators investigated the divergence between stated and revealed preferences for energy-saving products, and designed and tested nudges that would lead to higher adoption of environmentally friendly technologies. Other research has focused on the design and testing of emissions trading markets, and the valuation of air pollution using hedonic methods.

Prof Pritha Chakrabarti joins as Faculty Associate, SIAS.

Pritha has received her doctoral degree in Cultural Studies from The English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad. She has been an editor, journalist and written for advertisement and branding before coming into academics. Her area of research interest encompasses film studies, dance studies and performing arts, screendance studies, new media and questions of gender, labour, ideology, class and caste. She has previously worked at the media department of Symbiosis International (deemed university) where she taught several subjects in Writing, Films, Journalism, New Media and Advertising. Pritha has also published in several peer reviewed journals and has worked at the Media Lab, Jadavpur University as a film archivist. She has been the recipient of the Pad.Ma Film Research Fellowship, the CSDS-ICSSR doctoral fellowship and the NFAI film research fellowship. Her current research project tracks the changing body image of the dancing bodies on screen in Hindi cinema and its relation to the neoliberal ideology.

Prof. Sushant Kumar Raut has joined as Assistant Professor of Physics, Department of Sciences.

He is a particle physicist, specializing in the phenomenology of neutrinos. After completing his Ph.D. from I.I.T. Bombay, he has held post-doctoral positions at Physical Research Laboratory (Ahmedabad), KTH Royal Institute of Technology (Stockholm), Institute for Basic Science (Daejeon), and Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (Daejeon). Sushant believes that science education can help in solving many of the problems in society, not merely through technological advances, but also through the inculcation of scientific temper and rational thinking. Therefore, he has been keenly interested in education and scientific outreach. Apart from regular university courses, he has taught at summer schools and has been a co-organizer of the `Science on Tap’ series of popular science talks in Daejeon. He is interested in starting and promoting other science vulgarization programmes too.

Prof. Vaishali Sharma joins as Visiting Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences, SIAS.

Vaishali Sharma has a Ph.D. in Structural Biology from Centre for Magnetic Resonance, University of Florence, Italy, which is one of the largest biophysics laboratories in Europe. Her studies were focused on proteins that are involved in iron metabolism and assimilation in humans. She studied the interaction of these macromolecules with deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and their consequential molecular cascading events. Vaishali worked as a post-doctoral researcher at the laboratory of Cellular dynamics, Max Plank Institute of Biophysical Chemistry, Göttingen, Germany and studied the alpha synuclein (ASN) protein, whose accumulation leads to neurodegeneration leading to Parkinson’s disease in humans. This group is a leader in making novel microscopes for studying complicated biological phenomena live. Her research was focused on the interactions of ASN with multiple neuronal proteins involved in cellular trafficking. The molecular events governing packaging and transporting of cellular cargo in and out of cell in rat model system. During her second post-doctoral research at University of Medicine, Gottingen in the Dept of Neurodegeneration, she was part of team involved in testing of proposed potential compounds and their interaction with ASN within cells. Her interdisciplinary research exposure gathered her expertise in cutting edge microscopy, biochemistry, molecular biology, cell biology and neurobiology.

Prof. Amrita Narayanan joins as Visiting Professor of Practice in Psychology, SIAS.

Dr Amrita Narayanan is a practicing clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst with an interest in literature and literary theory. She is the editor of The Parrots of Desire: 3000 years of Erotica in India (Aleph Books, 2018) a collection of poems, short prose and fiction in translation from Indian languages, linked by an introductory essay on the central themes in Indian erotic literature. She is a contributor to the volume Psychoanalysis in the Indian Terroir: Emerging Themes in Culture, Family and Childhood (Lexington Books, 2018). She is co-author on the forthcoming Pha(bu)llus: a cultural history of the Phallus (Harper Collins, 2020) in which her essay explores the psychological meanings behind the popularity of the phallus as a symbol. Amrita has taught as visiting faculty at Ashoka University in the English department and at Ambedkar University in the psychology department. Amrita’s research interests are in cultural factors in psychotherapy and psychoanalysis, the psychodynamics of women’s sexual agency, and in how cultural factors shape the aesthetics of women’s sexual agency in India. Her writing has appeared in academic journals such as Psychodynamic Practice and Psychoanalytic Review; newspapers such as The Hindu and The Indian Express; and popular press periodicals such as Outlook, Open Magazine, and India Today.  Her recent awards include the Taylor and Francis Prize for psychoanalytic writing, the Sudhir Kakar Prize for psychoanalytic writing, and the Homi Bhabha Fellowship.  

Prof Abuthahir joins as Krea Postdoctoral Fellow.

Abuthahir earned a bachelor’s degree in Electronics and Communication Engineering from Anna University. After his undergraduate degree, he worked as a software engineer at Cognizant Technology Solutions (CTS) for five years. He then joined IIT Madras, where he completed his Masters of Science, by research, and then a PhD in the area of communication networks, from the Department of Electrical Engineering. His modelling research interests are centered around the design and performance evaluation of congestion control mechanisms for large scale communication networks like the Internet. His research interests in applied mathematics include control theory, bifurcation theory, queuing systems with delayed feedback, and non-linear time-delay dynamical systems.

Prof Ovee Thorat joins as Krea Postdoctoral Fellow.

Dr Ovee Thorat comes with a mixture of disciplinary backgrounds as she has moved from her training in core natural science subjects to incorporating more of social science in her work. The focus on interdisciplinary at ATREE, Bangalore, where she did her PhD from and trained her in making this shift. Her areas of interest are pastoralism, rangeland ecology, politics of wildlife conservation, and qualitative research methods. For her doctorate in conservation science and sustainability studies, she worked on the political ecology of grassland conservation and pastoral development in the Banni grasslands of Kachchh in India.She is also a co-author of the bilingual book Grasses of Banni which is the first of its kind field guide on this less-known plant group.

Prof Joya John joins as Assistant Professor of Literature, SIAS.

Joya John has earned a Ph.D., from the University of Chicago. She is passionate about how literary and cultural studies can respond to new challenges in the Indian subcontinent and more globally. Her research has so far focused on issues of environment and ecology in Indian fiction. She is interested in issues of energy, mining, waste, as well as the changing landscape of activism around environmental issues and climate change. She believes that literature can bring valuable insights to environmental issues that are often dominated by scientific and policy approaches. She holds both master’s and MPhil degrees in English Literary Studies from Delhi University. She is currently working on academic articles on issues of energy security and access in Hindi fiction and the depiction of Adivasi communities and the environment in contemporary novels set in Jharkhand. She has presented her work at the Association for Asian Studies, European Conference of South Asian Studies, the Annual South Asia Conference at Madison, and the American Comparative Literature Association. She has published on issues of sexual harassment at the workplace, Dalit drama, and autoethnography in contemporary Dalit thought.
Joya has over six years teaching experience at Delhi University where she taught courses on Indian writing in translation, Realism and the Novel, and European drama. During graduate school in the U.S. she has taught academic and professional writing and courses on environmental issues and globalization in South Asia. When not teaching or researching, she is interested in stand-up comedy and believes irony, satire and comedy have tremendous critical power in contemporary India. She is interested in developing audio content and believes podcasts are the future.

Prof Sayantan Datta joins as Faculty Associate, SIAS.

Prof Sayantan Datta a developmental neurobiologist in training, working towards Ph.D. at TIFR-Hyderabad. He did B.Sc. in Life Sciences from Presidency University, Kolkata, and  M.Sc. in Neural and Cognitive Sciences from the University of Hyderabad. He is an experienced science writer and communicator. His interests lie in the fields of feminist science writing, cognitive models of writing, science illustration, and multimedia communication also interested in the history and philosophy of sciences, and neurodevelopment. Currently, he is looking at intersections between neuroscience and law, and neurofeminist philosophy. At Krea, He wish to use skills from the intersection of the sciences and social sciences, and his experience in writing, to work with students to develop their academic writing and communication skills. He is open to collaboration with other researchers and teachers interested in the aforementioned disciplines/subjects.

Prof. Neha Mishra joins as Visiting faculty, SIAS.

Neha Mishra has an MPhil in English Literature from the University of Delhi. Her MPhil dissertation examined the hues of systemic and cultural impunity embedded in acts of violence against women in the Indian nation-state. Neha completed her MA in English Literature from Shiv Nadar University where she also worked as teaching assistant for Academic Writing and Creative Writing courses. She has also worked as Assistant Editor in the Global Editions division of Pearson Education.

Krea University’s 4th round of admissions for B.A (Honours) and B.Sc. (Honours) in Liberal Arts and Sciences Streams for 2020 – 2023 is fast filling up.

Krea University’s 4th round of admissions for B.A (Honours) and B.Sc. (Honours) in Liberal Arts and Sciences Streams for 2020 – 2023 is fast filling up.
Apply today and be part of a new paradigm in higher education

July 1st – last day for accepting applications

Sricity – Chennai 26 June 2020– Krea University, founded by global visionaries, will be closing its 4th round of undergraduate admissions for the academic year 2020 -2023 on July 1st. Their undergraduate School of Interwoven Arts and Sciences (SIAS) offers 3-year B.A. (Honours) & B.Sc. (Honours) degrees, with an option to do an additional year of Advanced Studies.

The university pioneers the unique Interwoven Learning (IWL), based on a set of guiding principles essential for a transformative college experience of today. The Interwoven Learning Model weaves together the arts and sciences, creativity and action, perspectives from the east and west and draws on lessons from the past to get students, future ready.

Backed by a legion of best minds, Krea University aims to impart a unique undergraduate course for students that provides a holistic approach to education. The programme brings together the unique interwoven learning, delivered by a diverse and multi-faceted faculty. Students can gain access to global alliances and cane be part of a talented peer group.

Responding to the crisis of COVID-19, Krea has made a strategic transition to well thought and carefully re-crafted lessons in the virtual space, while ensuring Krea’s ethos of quality education delivery remains resolute. The university is accepting applications from spirited minds for the Undergraduate BA (Honours) programme in Economics, History, Politics, Literature, Arts, Social Studies and B.Sc (Honours) in Computer Science, Biological Science, Environmental Courses, Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Psychology as well. The University offers additional minors in Business Studies and Philosophy.

Applications are open until 1st July.

For more information please visit the following websites:

Payment Ecosystems, Leadership & Data Science at PayPal

Payment Ecosystems, Leadership & Data Science at PayPal

May 30, 2020: In an insightful session, Dr. V. Chandramouliswaran spoke to the students at IFMR GSB, Krea University and punctuated the interaction with lessons from his decade long journey at PayPal.

Sharing anecdotes from his inspiring journey at PayPal , Senior Director, Global Financial Crime & Customer Protection and Chennai Center Head shed light on the components that drove phenomenal success for PayPal over the years. He spoke about how the organization dealt with cyber security and disruptive technologies. He also pointed out the value for building relationships and trust being a priority, within the business. Hearteningly, he credited employee engagement to be a key driver for the success at PayPal.

Answering questions on the expectations from students for the corporate world in the emerging future, Dr. Chandramouliswaran added, “Students should always have patience and they should be open to multiple career options as they will have to work in a dynamic environment which will have different requirements, every now and then.”

Guiding the students further, he spoke about the need for them to consistently perform and present their A-game, each day at an organization. He encouraged the habit of eagerness to learn and excellent communication skills for the way forward. He also added how the culture of agility and productivity at an organisation helped with the evolving needs and how this culture would survive any adversity in the way.

Evolving narrative of innovation & technology in India- an evening with Dr. Sriram Rajamani

Evolving narrative of innovation & technology in India- an evening with Dr. Sriram Rajamani

19 May, 2020: In an inspiring session, Dr. Sriram Rajamani shared powerful insights from his vast journey as an eminent scientist and member of Microsoft Research, both in the United States and India.

From appreciating the beauty of mathematics to encouraging disruptive innovation, Dr. Sriram Rajamani- Distinguished Scientist and MD of Microsoft Research Lab India, engaged the students at Krea in a hearty interaction.

An eminent scientist and a delightful storyteller, Dr. Rajamani narrated experience stories from his early days in the field to setting up the Microsoft Research Lab India. He also shared his views on use of technology for socio-economic development, the ability as well as limitations of AI to solve real world challenges, and the opportunity lent by COVID- 19 to de-urbanize India. He emphasised on the importance of academia and industry working closer and articulated non-traditional ways to collaborate for wider benefit of education and research

An advertising veteran’s showreel of commercials, life and learnings

An advertising veteran’s showreel of commercials, life and learnings

12 May, 2020: In an energising evening, John Thangaraj navigated the students at Krea through multiple interesting experiences from his expansive stint in the world of advertising.

From a childhood spent admiring stalwarts on the pages of Brand Equity each Wednesday, John Thangaraj, National Planning Director- FCB Ulka terms his entry into advertising, an accident.

An accidental choice that has culminated in numerous classic and heart-warming campaigns that go right into the pages of history in the world of advertising. In a stirring session, John took us through his early days in advertising and traced the changes that have marked the field over years.

“Advertising has moved away from being witty or clever. Today it is about authenticity”, with these words John described how audience is no longer looking at getting impressed and instead seeks empathy. Of how advertisers now shoulder a huge responsibility of being careful and less-indulgent while focussing on consumer problems and ROI in business.

Sketching culture as the backdrop against which advertising lives, John emphasised on how the era of brand building has deconstructed itself to one of brand dissolution. Using the metaphor of a rock, he explained, traditionally an advert would showcase the rock becoming a bigger, thicker and heavier version of itself. Fast forward now, the adverts attempt to put the rock through a grinder, make it into a fine powder and sprinkle it all over the consumer culture.

In the mix of the interaction when enquired about his recent newspaper column on the lockdown, John pointed out an idealistic view on the situation. “The lockdown has shown us there can be a better world. We need to exercise common sense and not follow the norms of a pre-COVID world.”

He shed light on how COVID-19 has pushed advertising to work harder as ROI becomes more critical during these troubled times. Yet, at the same time also driving advertising into fresh arenas where emotions of love, empathy and sensitivity surpass the unidimensional focus on driving sales.

Addressing the students and their interest in the field, he pointed out the need for skills in communication, self-confidence, clarity of thought and hunger for diverse interests as core to the profession. He broke down the misconception, the more esoteric one sounds, the more intelligent you come across and laid out the ground rule of simplicity and clarity within communication being the key. He encouraged students to be keen observers of human behaviour.

“The beautiful thing about advertising is, the more diverse POVs you put into the mix the better the output.” He illuminated that a distinct advertisement always arrives from an amalgamation of various points of view.

He also observed, the past decade witnessing a shift from sell based advertising to societal based advertising and introducing the global narrative of advertising as a tool for social change

The climax of the evening lay in the incredible case studies John showcased, punctuated by campaigns that weren’t just immensely successful but also celebrated the heartening emotions of courage, honesty and empathy scattered across the rich cultural setting of India.