MullenLoweLintas Group appoints Heather Gupta as group HR director

Gupta replaces Michelle Suradkarwho is on a sabbatical

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Advertising bellwether, MullenLoweLintas Group has appointed Heather Gupta as its group HR director. Gupta joins the group armed with over a decade’s experience as an HR professional.

Gupta will lead the function for the Group, which consists of three agencies – Lowe Lintas, Mullen Lintas and PointNineLintas. She replaces Michelle Suradkar who is taking a sabbatical from work, as per a press statement from MullenLoweLintas Group.

Suradkar will continue to help with special projects till June 2019, while Gupta will lead the HR operations with immediate effect. Among the various initiatives Suradkar is credited for at the Group is the agency’s flagship one – the Lowe Lintas Apprenticeship Programme (LLAP) that the agency claims has introduced unique talent to the advertising industry.

This is Gupta’s second stint with the Group. Previously, she was associated with the company (then Lowe Lintas) as the vice-president, HRD between 2005 and 2007. Incidentally, it also marked Gupta’s foray into HR. Prior to that, she held marketing and client-servicing positions in global agencies and networks that included Procter & Gamble, McCann Erickson and an eight-year-long stint at JWT.

On her move to an HR role, she tells HRKatha that it was a responsibility she fell in love with instantly.

“I was offered the role of heading HR for Lintas in 2005, after having spent two years as a Regional Account Director with the agency, and a decade in marketing and advertising before that. The CEO at the time was looking for an HR Head, and instinctively felt that I would be well suited to the role. I decided to take the plunge and try something new. From there, my HR career has gone from strength to strength, I have worked with a number of different companies in full time and consultancy roles, and also trained as an ICF certified Executive Coach. Returning to Lintas after more than a decade feels like I’ve come full circle, with a wealth of experience to offer,” she says.

Gupta last worked with The 120 Media Collective as the Group’s chief talent officer and headed HR for The UTV Group before that.

“I was offered the role of heading HR for Lintas in 2005, after having spent two years as a Regional Account Director with the agency, and a decade in marketing and advertising before that. The CEO at the time was looking for an HR Head, and instinctively felt that I would be well suited to the role. Returning to Lintas after more than a decade feels like I’ve come full circle, with a wealth of experience to offer.”

Working for well over 10 years in the HR space, she says the lessons have been enormous and shares with HRKatha what she thinks are some fundamental learnings.

“Never panic in the face of an apparent crisis. Most HR issues are resolvable with a calm perspective, and even the thorniest problems can be fixed if we act rather than react.

We need to train our youngest employees as well as the more senior members of the team. I’ve often found that training, particularly in leadership skills, is reserved for those who are already managing teams. In my view, we need to start training young people to be leaders from day one.

HR can only be successful in any company if there is true partnership with senior management and a ‘seat at the table’ for HR. HR leaders need to partner with managers and leaders to develop effective solutions which are truly integrated with business needs. I believe that my years in driving client business has really sharpened my perspective as an HR professional, and I would urge all HR people to spend some time in business roles, even if just for a few months,” she says.

According to the Lintas press statement, her appointment coincides with a renewed focus on meaningful integration at all levels of the business.

“We could not imagine an HR leader better suited for the task, given our vision of hyper-bundled solutions for the future, and the need for extreme agility as we integrate the various parts of our offering. Heather’s experience across diverse media businesses, including traditional and digital advertising, production, movies, TV, and content make her perfectly placed to help us shape our existing people for the future and also attract the very best talent in the industry,” says Virat Tandon, group CEO, MullenLoweLintas Group.

On her immediate challenge ahead at the Lintas Group, Gupta says she wants to connect with the employees and understand them better.

Virat Tandon

“We could not imagine an HR leader better suited for the task, given our vision of hyper-bundled solutions for the future, and the need for extreme agility as we integrate the various parts of our offering. Heather’s experience across diverse media businesses, including traditional and digital advertising, production, movies, TV, and content make her perfectly placed to help us shape our existing people for the future and also attract the very best talent in the industry”

“I want to spend as much time as I can connecting with employees across the company, to deep dive into their issues, concerns and perspectives. I am also working on a very comprehensive training plan, which will roll out at all levels from the beginning of next year. I am working with the senior management team on integrating our businesses, to ensure that we are offering really agile, multi-faceted communication solutions that cut across platforms”.

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Biprorshee comes with over a decade's experience in journalism, content writing, and a name difficult to pronounce. Over the years, he has written extensively on subjects like finance, advertising and marketing, cinema, music, popular culture, lifestyle among others in digital and print media. At work, Biprorshee is a stickler for sound English grammar and enjoys meeting people. When not, he is busy being a lazy musician, tea drinker, vinyl collector and motorcycle rider.

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