Talent and designation

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One of the debates in the Indian advertising world is the increasing trend to dish out designations to employees. There is concern about promoting employees before ‘time’ because of the sheer pressure to keep them from leaving or hiring someone to a designation before they are ready for it.

When I joined advertising some 17 years ago, one was made an Account Director after about 10 years in the business. Today that time period is halved. The good thing about that system was that one was given enough scope to work on complex, large scale advertising for many years. And importantly, go through the paces of operations, more operations, supervision and then leading a team.

The Account Directors I have worked with/reported to were true leaders and could command respect from the client-in-chief. They truly led the account and held sway over the clients. I am not too sure if the current crop of AD’s with 5-6 experience have that hold on clients at the top level.

The downside to the earlier approach was, to get to an AD level one had to go through several (often meaningless) designations. Asst. AE, AE, Sr. AE, Account Manager, Account Supervisor, Group Head, Assoc. Account Dir and Account Director. Phew. Given that there are only 3 levels – execution, supervisory and direction, those designations were meaningless. I guess one went through it for the sheer joy of being in advertising.

In today’s world, one cannot get a Client Servicing person to go through these levels. They have far too many options available and have too little patience. Many other industries hav fast-tracked their managers. Even in FMCG marketing you will find category heads/Group Brand Managers with 6-7 years experience. BPOs too have rejigged their roles to include Chief Fun Officer and Lead Gardener and so on.

Bottom line – the industry has to wake up to the reality of fast-tracking managers.

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