Acceptance Speech of Mr Uday Shankar, CEO –Star India, on winning the prestigious Impact Person of the Decade – 2014, which was presented to him by the Governor of Maharashtra Shri C Vidyasagar Rao in Mumbai, in the presence of a packed audience of captains, thought leaders and professionals from the worlds of Media, Marketing and Advertising.
This is overwhelming – there is nothing more special than peer recognition. I consider myself a creation of this industry and for this industry to recognize that I might have made some impact on the last decade fills me with a sense of both pride and gratitude. This is particularly because in the last 10 years much of what I have done is very different from what I thought I was trained to do. I was trained to be a journalist….. a print journalist…who, enchanted by the magic of television took a plunge 20 years ago when TV was still an infant in India.
One thing led to the other and here I am standing before you. The summary of my journey in the past 10 years has been that I have been trusted to manage business strategies, businesses, companies, industry bodies, etc., none of which should have fallen in the category of my natural expertise.
This has surprised my friends and critics alike. But let me confess today that probably no one has been more surprised at this than I myself and that’s why when I was informed by ‘IMPACT’ that I am the person of the decade, I couldn’t avoid but reflect on my journey and what led me here. I can say this very elaborately and perhaps more subtly but in the interest of time, let me say it in one word – collaboration. That seems to be the one thing that I have done better and better and better over the last 10 years. When I was first handed over the reins of a struggling MCCS as CEO, I didn’t know my way around outside the newsroom. In retrospect, I think I learnt how to be an effective CEO and turn around an organization by just not working with all my colleagues – young and old – but by letting them lead me in areas which were not my core expertise. Content is where I was a teacher, everywhere else I was a learner. The results were quite satisfactory for all of us. A few years later, I found myself in a similar position in Star India. Trained only to do news, here I was doing everything but news. I think my success at Star and the success of Star India are results of not just an extremely talented team that I could put together but that this team collaborates with and compliments one another extremely well. When I need direction I am happy to take it from this team. If at Star we have been able to change the content landscape, that’s happened largely because Star has shown a better ability to attract and work with an eclectic spectrum of talent – be it the likes of Aamir Khan or Karan Johar or Ashutosh Gowarikar or Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Together we have all raised the bar for content at Star.
On industry issues, it’s been no different. I have learnt to work seamlessly with people who I compete with fiercely when it comes to our individual businesses. It took me two months to bring together the major entertainment broadcasters to discuss our content issues but in that meeting we sowed the seeds of content self-regulation which has become a hallmark of our industry today. While the whole world insisted that only the government could govern us, we have proved that self-governance is a viable alternative. We raised the bar even higher with BARC where the spirit of collaboration was extended to include also the agencies and advertisers. It was the same for digitization where my relationship with Punit Goenka set the ball rolling for digitization. Together we worked to align all the key stakeholders – slowly but surely.
Of course, the willingness to collaborate has always been built on a solid conviction to do the right thing – not just for Star but for the entire industry and society. The conviction to not do regressive content, the conviction to not compromise the larger interest of community and the conviction to be not bogged down by fear of failure. If I believed in something, I never hesitated to reach out to people to join the cause. Along the way I have made some amazing friends – many of them are here today and I am deeply grateful to all of you for, you have orchestrated for me whatever impact I might have made. Of course my amazing team at Star which has always rallied around to die for every single ridiculous plan that I have come up with. This recognition is yours. Finally this journey would have stopped long ago if it was not for my wife and daughter who have given me the confidence and the space to pursue the most insane ideas.
Thank you very much……….