MediaCom South Asia president Jasmin Sohrabji

The Indian media industry today boasts of some powerful and intelligent women who have, through their incessant hard work and grit, found their place under the sun. In the second of the series - Ms. Media: 25 Women Who Matter - we tried to find out what MediaCom South Asia president Jasmin Sohrabji is all about and what it took her to get to the top!

Jasmin has been in the industry for the last 16 years and is looked upon as "one of the most brilliant media professionals the industry has had in a long long time." She is one of the members of Tam India's Joint Industry Body (JIB) Committee, which advises Tam on corrections and also guide them about the placement of samples in newer areas.

Sporting an MA in Economics and an MBA, this double postgraduate joined Trikaya Grey (now Grey worldwide) in 1989 after a short stint with Contract. Within Grey, she was sent to Bangalore in 1996 to set up the media department after the agency won the Wrigley account. Under her guidance MediaCom was launched in September 1996. The lady then packed her bags and was off to Indonesia to head the MediaCom operation there, where she worked on clients like Proctor & Gamble (P&G), GlaxoSmithKlien (GSK) and British American Tobacco (BAT).

After a year, Jas (as she's popularly called in the industry) zoomed off to New York to work on MediaCom clients - P&G and GSK - in the US. There she was also instrumental in training the US, South American, Eastern Europe and Asian markets on MediaCom's proprietary optimiser tool - Maxis.

Jasmin returned to Indian soil in 1999 and now heads MediaCom South Asia as president along with co-president Harish Shriyan. In addition to MediaCom South Asia (Bangladesh and Sri Lanka), Jasmin was also responsible for the P&G planning for the P&G AAI GBU including nine Asian countries.

Her mantra for always being ahead of the others in this game is research. Today, MediaCom is known for its extensive research and has also won a lot of laurels through awards. In an environment where television ratings drive most decisions that media planners and buyers make, Jasmin has made it a point to go beyond mere ratings and churn out addressable solutions for the agency's clients through extensive research. It's no wonder that MediaCom has been consistently winning the Emvies for their research papers.

Credit goes to her for giving the media industry two landmark research papers. The first one is TeleOsmosis, which is a paper on light TV viewers, which was a first for India. This research is an important input into TV optimisation and has won a Silver at the Emvies. What's more, light TV viewer planning has become part of the media planning norm. Her second paper demonstrated the impact of multiple TV sets penetration on television viewing and therefore television planning and optimising. This paper - set2view - won three awards at the Emvies last year -- the Gold for Best Media Research; the Grand Emvie for the best entry across all categories and the Tam cash award for Best TV Research.

We asked this MediaCom loyalist, (who only dresses in black), whether she would be game to shift to an entirely new profession for the challenge of it. "I totally love what I do, but if a challenge comes my way I would be open to consider. But it's not really about the challenge, the work content has to interest me! There are some sectors that are extremely challenging, but don't interest me in the least. The business has to engage me before I engage the consumer," she confidently replies.

Being in the media industry for close to 16 years, Jasmin has a keen eye on what the future holds for the television and media industry. "The future will get more and more consumer focused, where on the one hand non-traditional touch points will be sought to effectively address the consumers, while on the other hand television planning will get further sophisticated in its attempt to not just reach out to numbers, but reach relevant quality consumers. Studies such as multi-set analysis on viewing impact will become more the order of the day, than just ratings. What's leading these trends are new genres, new programming formats and new transmission formats!" says Jasmin.

A no-nonsense woman, Jasmin is keen on making the media industry attractive enough to bring in talent from across sectors. "Our industry is shrinking in its talent pool and we need fresh blood and a fresh perspective," she opines.

Another thing on her agenda is to elevate the media agency function in the country to its justified remunerative status.

Her mantra in life is to work hard and shop hard! "If you're not going to spend it, why earn it! To many it's 'work hard, party hard,' for me it's 'work hard, shop hard'," Jasmin confides.

What has the industry taught her? "I have been in this agency for 16 years and one thing this place has taught me is that hard work and loyalty are valued and will help me face any challenge," says she.

To her, Grey is her family and will always remain close to her heart! And when she needs to get away from work, her favourite pastime is "S&S" aka "Spa & Shopping"! "My work has always given me travel opportunities and I don't really need to 'get away' from work, I just need to mix work with some pleasure," says Jasmin. She loves to shop in New York and Paris.

When asked what her strengths and weaknesses are, she says, "Media planning is my strength and shoes are my weakness! On a more serious note, I believe my strength is my ability to nurture and motivate my people. My weakness is my inability to easily accept people who do not fit into my benchmarks of 'good' human beings. I try to put people into 'black' or 'white' compartments where in reality there are only shades of gray. It's the one fault I have always been pulled up for, and it's the one mistake I keep making."

Jasmin is known among her colleagues as a person who loves to give career advice. "I believe I am very philanthropic with regard to career counseling as well as career planning for both current and past employees who have worked with me in any capacity. So there are many people in whose prayers and blessings I would always be present. Apart from this, I am also involved with CRY (Child Relief and You) but at a very base level."

In this day and age when it doesn't take much to lure talent from one company to the other, Jasmin has stayed on with MediaCom for 16 years, which in itself is commendable for a person her stature. "One should enjoy the work one does. It's not enough to be successful; it's important to enjoy doing so. The means to success should be as enjoyable as success itself. Hard work and loyalty pays and the reason why I am where I am today is because after 16 years, I am just as passionate about what I do," signs off the lady.



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