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Ravi Kiran - A man of many parts : Starcom's Ravi Kiran

"There is a maverick in each one of us", says Starcom MediaVest Group India's general manager, investment and business development, Ravi Kiran. "Some of us find expressions for it in nose buds, tattoos, and pony tails. Some others just break rules at work place and in career and have loads of fun doing it". Meet one of the quietest rule breakers in the industry. If looks can deceive, here's your man. For Kiran is a very straight and peaceful looking guy-very regular. To people who know him however, it's pure fire underneath.

From an aspiring physician nearly two decades ago, to the leader in waiting in one of the most respected media agencies today, Ravi has, as they say, come a real long way. A degree in mechanical engineering from Srinagar, a year's disruption in studies owing to curfew in Kashmir and an MBA in marketing from Delhi University's FMS, have all come along the way. "As a loner in school, I loved books. And every time I read a book that influenced me deeply, I wanted to do something different. That's why the switch from medicine to engineering to management to client servicing to Media"

Kiran started his career in client servicing. Lintas' Preet K S Bedi [now in TBWA] recruited him in the FMS campus in 1990. "I didn't apply for any other kind of job. It had to be advertising. My friends thought I was a fool; waiting for the 10th day of placement season, without a job in hand." HTA and Lintas both came to campus the same day. "Lintas offered a starting stipend that was Rs 500 higher than HTA, and for the first of several times in my life, I grabbed an offer I could easily have refused," says Kiran with a laugh. It took him over six years in client servicing, with many clients such as MasterCard, NIIT, Motorola, Ballarpur Industries and many years running a very profitable unit in Lintas Delhi to look for a change.

Change came in the form of Initiative Media which he joined in 1996, just when Media was coming out of the back room. While there, he oversaw the media accounts of ITC, IDV [now Diageo], G M Pens as well as the new business efforts of the Agency. His next itch came in 1998, when Praveen Tripathi lured him into what was then Chaitra Leo Burnett to start the media buying function, literally from scratch. Over the four years he has spent in the agency, the agency's identity has changed dramatically. From being the first agency in the world to have won a Communications Planning AOR from P&G, to trying such offbeat media options as Sports to launch brands, Starcom has created a very special position for itself in the market. The Agency's new business run this year has been 'very satisfactory', and Kiran, as head of business development, credits the success almost entirely to the young and energetic team at Starcom. Tough and demanding Clients such as Balsara, Dr. Morepen, LVMH have awarded their business to Starcom, often against stiff competition. Even as this interview goes to print, Starcom is about to announce two major business gains, learns indiantelevision.com. Add to that such prestigious accounts such as Fiat, Heinz, Raymond, and Western Union and you will understand why Kiran needs all that energy in his people.

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