Colvyn Harris to be JWT chairman Mike Khanna's successor

MUMBAI: The suspense about the leadership issue at JWT India, India's largest advertising agency has ended. Speculation had been on as to who would be the man to succeed the long-serving Mike Khanna as its head honcho. Names of senior professionals such as Colvyn Harris, Kamal Oberoi and Jagdip Badkshi were tossed around. And last month the media had even carried reports saying that it is Harris who would be succeeding the mild-mannered, gentlemanly, and highly successful JWT India chairman Khanna, something which he had refused to deny or confirm.

All the rumour mongering can now be put to rest. The agency sent out a release yesterday confirming that it would indeed be Contract Advertising president Colvyn Harris who will be taking over as the top man at JWT come January 2005. Khanna is expected to retire and hand over the baton to Harris at the turn of the year.



An insider, Harris has been working with WPP in India and overseas and with group agencies JWT and Contract in various leadership positions for a good 24 years. Additionally, he has nurtured a clutch of global and national brands, which probably tipped the scales in his favour. JWT India president Kamal Oberoi, another name that was being whispered about as Khanna's successor will now become the chairman of the Group's new venture to be announced later this year.



JWT Delhi senior vice-president & general manager Jagdip Bakshi has meanwhile been elevated as CEO of Contract Advertising.

In an official release Khanna said, "Over the years I have watched Colvyn and Jagdip develop into leaders and watched them building strong brands and robust businesses, and I have every confidence in their ability to take these agencies to new heights in the future."



JWT has roped in Pepsi senior vice president and area director Rohit Ohri as the man to replace Bakshi as general manager JWT Delhi.

On another level, JWT India will now be reporting into JWT Asia Pacific area director Patrick Pitcher who will be overseeing JWT's operations in 14 countries including India, Central Asia, South East Asia and Australia. Both Harris and Bakshi will also be elevated to the new Asia Pacific Executive Board which includes top officials from around the region, who will in turn be reporting to Pitcher.

Khanna, an ardent cricket fan, has got a pat on his back for his long but highly productive and prolific sojourn at the JWT crease. Says JWT worldwide president Michael Maedel: "Mike is a shining example of one of those rare leaders who has transformed JWT India into one of the finest agency groups worldwide. JWT has been the number one agency in India for 75 years, and under Mike's leadership, has helped to build some of India's most trusted brands. It is a testament to his leadership skills that we have such fine talent to take over the reins of the company."

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