Radha Ghai is a Creative Director and Senior Partner at one of India’s most renowned creative brand consultancy – Alok Nanda & Company (ANC).
She has been working very closely with Alok on some of the finest lifestyle, real estate and hospitality brands in the country like Taj Hotels, The Lodha Group, Condé Nast Traveller to name a few. Her work has been instrumental in transforming Lodha Group into a premium luxury real estate brand in India and UK.
She has also closely worked with some of the biggest names in the international architecture and interior design landscape like Armani Casa, Philippe Starck, Ken Smith and more, who have launched their brands for the Indian market.
Her work showcases the importance of design in advertising and clearly reflects how good design is an integral part of building desire in the minds of a consumer. Her keen sense of eye to see things in a different way also comes from her love for beautiful things, travelling and the art world.
Radha Ghai, Senior Partner & Creative Director, ANC (Alok Nanda & Company) in our column Straight Talk, talks about her jouney in Advertising, her association with ANC and her love for all things beautiful.
A long journey of 20+ years, how has it been?
It has been a very exciting journey and a very fast one indeed. I have been very fortunate to work with some of the best agencies of our country. Lots of learning’s, tons of exciting work, lots of travel and lots of fun.
Few women in the industry in leadership roles, your thoughts?
Well, I have grown up with 2 brothers, so was never intimidated with men in general; my parents brought me up that way. Starting from Contract Advertising, which was like an institution, I was protected and was given training to fight for your work you really believe in, did not really matter if you were a guy or a girl. All the trainees were treated as equals, boy or girl, and believe me the training was hard!
Later in my work experience, I have had some hilarious incidents where in one of them, there was a complaint given to my super boss “Oh my god you have put a girl in my group??? How is she going to work late nights??” All my super boss said was, “Wait and Watch.”
I feel fortunate to have worked in a very good environment in all the organisations that I have worked and till present. And if you know your job well and you are confident, it works. Also, generally I feel women are better at multitasking and have better instincts than men to handle different kinds of situations at the same time. Women are also better listeners, hence better leaders.
As far as I have experienced, in our business it has not really mattered if you are a man or a woman and there have been a lot of women in this industry who are playing their leadership roles very successfully.
The most significant mentor in your professional life? What is that one thing that has stood the test of time?
I would say that I have been very lucky to have worked under some very big names in advertising like V Sunil, The Mohammed Khan, Neil D Souza and Elsie Nanji. All these people have had a lot of influence on my work and also on how to live your life in a beautiful way. The great thing was not to discuss not just advertising but so many other interesting areas like travel, culinary experiences, art and fashion and design of course.
I would say Elsie Nanji, she is one person who has inspired me the most during the time I worked with her at Ambience Publicis. I learnt from her how to see things in a different way, to find beauty in the worst of things around you. And how to transform them into objects of art, to create the world of desire to own them. Another important thing that I learnt from her is to not give up till you feel the joy of what you have created.
And now at present, I have been very fortunate to have worked with Alok Nanda, for more than a decade. It’s been a great journey so far.
So, I can say I have been spoilt and very lucky to have worked with the best. The one thing which has stood the test of time is to educate yourself and be in the know of what’s happening around you and that never lets you down as this knowledge helps your creative process totally.
From Advertising Agency to a magazine and now back to an Agency what has been the experience and the challenges?
I worked for about a decade in advertising and took a sabbatical to take some time off, when I got an offer to join Condé Nast India as the fashion bible Vogue was being launched in India. Well, it could not have been more exciting than that. I joined Condé Nast India and we launched Vogue in India. It was an exciting time and was a very different experience from advertising. I got a chance to work on some very reputed brands like Diageo, De beers, The LVMH group and many more. Did some exciting work for the launch of Vogue in Jodhpur which was a mega launch and much talked about in the media.
But soon I was missing the dynamic nature of work that I had been used to in advertising as magazine world can be very formatted, so kind of made a decision and joined back in advertising but took a slightly different path. I joined Alok Nanda and Company (now ANC) which offered a great mix of advertising and design with a stress upon premium lifestyle categories like Taj Hotels, Lodha luxury real estate to start with. And since then, it’s been an exciting journey till now.
What are some of the learning’s from the various organizations you have been associated with?
As I started from Contract advertising, which was like a school of advertising for me, learnt, normal is boring, which sort of helped me create a pathway of my own during my work experience. Also, my passion for architecture and product design and travel sort of steered my path in the direction of understanding the lifestyle/ beauty & design categories.
Enterprise was a great place to learn as well, working with MK was great fun and there was never a dull moment ever, worked on brands like Dabur, Sony and many more. Learnt a lot that one has to experience first- hand the world of food, travel, art, and fashion in order to understand these categories.
It got further and further enhanced when I joined Ambience Publicis where I got a lot of experience to work on lifestyle, fashion and beauty categories, and with Elsie Nanji.
Working at Condé Nast India was a shorter stint but an exciting one too. Worked with some really good people there as well like Alex Kuruvilla and understood this medium with deep-diving into the lifestyle and fashion world which helped me gain first-hand experience in the luxury and lifestyle categories and products.
At present here at ANC my experience in working on the luxury real estate and other lifestyle, hospitality categories has been a very exciting journey too and continues to be so.
One motto that I live with is – Do not take shortcuts ever! I believe in working with the best and I am always fighting to raise and push our standards of work. And lastly what I believe is what you put in is what you get, so I am a bit stubborn that way.
2020 is gone, what are your plans for the next 3 years? What specifically do you want to achieve, personally and professionally?
As I mentioned earlier, 20 plus years have passed by very fast, now I feel I need to choose and diversify. Professionally, would like to choose work which makes me happy and makes a difference at the same time.
Personally, this year of 2020 has made me realise the importance of smaller pleasures in life, and to be more mindful, would like to spend more time with myself and with nature, slow down the pace and not burn out.
So, the next 3 years I see myself giving little more importance to myself. Work from home option is giving me a chance to be more productive towards my work and be close to nature at the same time. I am definitely going to exploit this opportunity.
Any hobbies and what are your weekend activities?
Love and passion for interior design and Architecture and all things beautiful.
My personal interest in advertising goes beyond creating ads towards interior design, product design, identity design, furniture design, culinary world and the Art World and travel.
I am always reading or going through and pass my time by reading books on interior design. These days latest hobby is to design oversized cane lamps, inspired by one of my favourite Dutch designers as I design my house in Goa.
I am already thinking of ideas on how to design my other house which I am planning to build in the mountains of Uttrakhand. I am never bored of interior design, I can live and breathe through beautifully designed spaces, furniture and well-crafted craft products and never get tired of surrounding myself in this world full of creativity and design.
I love travelling too. I feel travelling really opens up your mind and help you to be a better person.