Simran has over two decades of experience in the media industry; she is one of the youngest women in a senior C-level leadership role in India. As Chief Executive Officer at The Q, a fast-growing Hindi general entertainment channel, leveraging her experience and insights to provide strategic direction to create new opportunities for the company and drive organizational growth.
Prior to joining The Q, Simran held the position of Executive Vice President and Head of Ad Sales at Viacom18. At Viacom18, under her leadership, the team successfully established COLORS channel as the leader in revenue amongst all Hindi general entertainment channels. She has also worked in various leadership positions at leading media and entertainment conglomerates such as Zee Entertainment Enterprises, Star India and Sony Entertainment Television.
As a proud pet mom, Simran is a member of Pet & Animal Shelter Forums. She is also a keen traveller and a sportsperson with interests in marathons and horse-riding.
In today’s Leaderspeak, Simran Hoon, CEO, The Q speaks to us on her journey in the media Industry, the challenges today and much more.
It has been 25+ years for you in the media industry, tell us about your journey
When I look back at where I started my career from to my current position, it gives me an amazing and warm feeling. My journey has been full of excitement and learning, a road that always turned sharp corners, filled with challenges and opportunities. When I started my career with Sony Entertainment Television, I was a part of an incredible growth journey when Television was so nascent. Moving on to Star TV & Zee Network, I was fortunate to be at the helm of marquee brands and my rich experience propelled me to join what was then a new venture – Viacom18’s GEC – Colors. As a woman leader, I have discovered my strengths and capabilities, gained experience across categories and learned the value of trust and relationships, all of which I apply at my current position of CEO at The Q.
Tell us a little about the challenges you faced and what has been the most important achievement in your career?
Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them makes life meaningful. I have been fortunate to have a career that has allowed me to do things differently, experiment and constantly reinvent myself for the better, allowing me to look at roadblocks in a completely new way. My role at Sony TV and as a founding member of COLORS at Viacom18, have been my initial milestones and my current role as the CEO of The Q is a major milestone in my career. I started my journey with a focus on accomplishing the impossible, however, my past experiences and understanding of the industry led me to this position and I am grateful to Curt Marvis and Sunder Aaron, Founders at The Q for trusting me and my leadership capabilities.
You’ve been a part of Zee, Sony and Viacom18. What are the learnings you bring to The Q?
During my initial days, I worked towards establishing start-ups as renowned brands. As an adventure seeker, I have always loved to challenge myself. I moved on from organizations at their peak and took the plunge into newer vistas. All the GECs that I have been associated with, in the past, started their journey like any other young company. They excelled because of the channel’s vision to withstand difficult times and emerge stronger. This zeal helps one to find their tribe and the energy levels of being together in it, is another level of thrill. At The Q, we work as one team with a mission to build a brand that is unique and never seen before. My experience with some of India’s leading GECs helps me in strategizing business at The Q to make way for unfaltering growth and success. I believe success is a given if you have the right specialists who think like Intrapreneurs and that is the biggest learning from my experience. The Q is unique and different in its proposition. It is a challenge to prove that TV is yet an integral part of today’s world and I think this is where all my experiences and knowledge will help The Q team to get acknowledged and established as a leading Hindi GEC brand.
In this long crisis of the pandemic how have you motivated yourself and the team?
Nelson Mandela said ‘After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.’ This beautiful thought is all I believe in and keeps me motivated every time. I believe that the success achieved in my previous venture marks the beginning of my journey towards higher excellency. I have been following this and have been able to achieve greater heights that I never imagined. The pandemic made our minds imagine the impossible which made me realize the importance of others and my work. We were fortunate to be safe and strong during this tough time. I prefer keeping mine and my team’s work environment optimistic and energetic which helps them to look forward to their work and return to office as it helps them to stay away from the outside pessimistic environment.
What were the challenges you were faced with while launching a GEC amidst COVID-19 and how was it than your previous experience?
Fortunately, we did not face any major setbacks due to Covid-19. From VOD to DTH and now DD Free Dish, The Q’s journey has been quite different from any other channel in the Hindi GEC space. Before we came onto DD Free Dish we had a 0.5 GRP. In a span of about eight to nine weeks of coming onto DD Free Dish, we went up to 51 GRP, making us the fastest growing Hindi GEC channel for young India. Our content is unique as compared to the other FTA channels. Also, as a brand offering fresh content, we did face the problem of discounted ad rates like other FTA players.
How do you plan to upscale content at The Q?
At The Q, we have always been on the lookout for new, fresh and differentiated content. With an aim to target young audiences in tier II and III cities and rural markets, we repackaged engaging content from the digital world such as BakLol, YoYoYogesh and Chu ChuKe Funs from YouTube and aired them on our channel. Though family-inclusive, we have stuck to our core target group of 15 to 35-year-olds with a promise to offer them fun content. Observing how audiences in tier II and III cities are underserved with content options, we picked up some relevant content pieces from OTT platforms. For instance, we recently aired MX Player’s Aashram. In small towns, not everyone has mobile devices and the majority are still single TV homes. With poor bandwidth, discoverability of content remains an issue. Since we provide curated content, based on what resonates with them, audiences don’t have to waste their bandwidth to figure out what to watch. In the coming months, we will also work towards launching more exciting offerings on our channel.
How are advertisers responding to The Q?
The Q offers fresh, unique and relevant content for young India, providing advertisers with a unique target audience. Unlike other FTA channels that target audiences above the age of 35, we cater to audiences between 15 to 35 year olds, with a liking for digital content. Our curated content resonates with them and whether it is on television or their mobile devices, it is available to them at no cost. The main categories of advertisers on FTA channels are FMCG, e-commerce, pharma and digital payment companies. In coming years, there will be more players entering this space as there is growth in viewership from tier 2 and 3 cities, which were so far not addressed by pay networks, thus increasing advertiser interest.
The Q along with Chtrbox, an influencer marketing platform announced the launch of an integrated marketing platform BharatBox which delivers integrated advertising solutions across linear and digital platforms to marketers. Combining the strength and reach of The Q with Chtrbox’s data-driven and cost-effective solutions for building successful tier 2 and tier 3 targeted influencer-led campaigns, the marketing platform empowers brands to reach out to consumers in these markets. The platform offers 360-degree go-to-market customized solutions that are fully integrated across all distribution platforms. This is an exciting offering that catches the attention of the advertisers.
Who has been your inspiration in the early days of your career? A mentor whose teachings have held you in good stead all these years?
One is a fortunate person if one starts their fundamental learning from their parents. My parents have been my true mentors from the very beginning, both in my personal and professional life. My father retired from the Indian Army after serving the country for 36 years and the “do or die ” attitude has been my war-cry! My mother is the most inspiring, positive and energetic person I have known and her ability to handle adversities and constantly reinvent herself is something I admire. I am truly blessed to have them as my mentors.
As a woman leader, what is your take on women getting more opportunities in the corporate world?
Women have been doing remarkable work in the industry. The success the industry has attained today is a combined effort of both men and women. However, in the past few years, we have seen more women in the corporate space and leadership roles. When I started my journey, the working space was absolutely different but now times have changed and I am sure it will be better in the future. It won’t be necessary for women to leave their jobs when they get married or have children. It’s high time we build flexible work environments to allow women to play all the roles they need to, without compromising their career. With industry professionals now offering full support and motivation, women in the corporate space get to perform better. As a woman, I look forward to seeing more women climbing the ladder and getting what they truly deserve.
How do you de-stress yourself? Your go-to activities during the weekends?
Being in the Media and Entertainment industry is a thrilling experience but it also comes with a lot of stress and pressure. There are pros and cons in every work but what is most important is that one does not get lost in the stress and pressure. One needs to pick themselves up, spend some leisure time with family and friends and take out some time for personal hobbies. As a pet mom, I love spending my free time with my pet. I am also an avid traveller and love exploring different places. Being close to nature gives me immense happiness and helps me in building an optimistic approach towards life. I also enjoy running marathons and horse-riding.