Q&A: Shamsuddin Jasani – It’s Important to Evolve into a Future Thinking, Integrated Solution

A conversation with the CEO of Wunderman Thompson South Asia one year into his new gig.

It’s been just over a year since Shamsuddin “Shams” Jasani took the helm as CEO of Wunderman Thompson South Asia. Jasani joined from Isobar, bringing a strong background in digital to a storied industry brand with a long history as a creative powerhouse.

He noted this when he took the job back in November of 2021: “I am really excited to not only continue this legacy but to take it to greater heights with the combination of creative, data, commerce, and technology.”

Over the course of our conversation, Shams grades his first year on the job, maintaining “creative bravery” in the “new vision” of Wunderman Thompson, some trends he foresees in the coming year, and more.


 

You’re one year into the new gig. If you had to give yourself a letter grade what would it be?

A++. Jokes aside, I think it has been a fantastic journey one filled with tremendous learnings, insights and triumphs. I am honoured and humbled to take over the reins of a prestigious brand such as WT, and look at driving growth and increasing relevance in a fast-paced, tech, and data-driven world. My focus is to identify areas of integration such that we can provide end-to-end solutions for our clients with a renewed focus on tech, data and commerce.

Where do you think you’ve been strongest in your new leadership role and what are some areas you would like to improve?

I think we have successfully scaled our business in commerce, martech, and health verticals. Looking to the future, we want to be the agency of choice for clients looking for solutions across the entire consumer value chain.

I see the 90-year legacy of the agency and its irrefutable reputation and longstanding trust that it has enjoyed with clients as the cornerstone that we want to build on, and martech, data and commerce as the building blocks that will help shape our growth trajectory.

You come from a digital background. You’ve previously spoken about how Wunderman Thompson will always be a creative agency first and that scaling up the agency requires is on “newer and different skill sets.” Can you talk more about that?

We continue to produce great work owing to the amazing talent that we have. We definitely feel that there is a need to go beyond story-telling and great artwork and the future will require us to unlock synergies through the creative use of data and technology and lean more into emerging technologies to better place ourselves to advise clients on their strategy.


 

“I see the 90-year legacy of the agency and its irrefutable reputation and longstanding trust that it has enjoyed with clients as the cornerstone that we want to build on, and martech, data and commerce as the building blocks that will help shape our growth trajectory.”

Thus there will be some critical new roles that will come in and those will get filled according to the new vision of where we want to go. But we will always want to be known for our creative bravery. We will never lose that essence.

You’ve said that Wunderman Thompson is looking to evolve from offering brand experiences to customer experiences. Can you unpack those differences and talk about your strategy to bring about this vision?

With nine decades of working with some of India’s and global’s most recognizable brands, and with our deep understanding of consumers we want to use that understanding of consumers and brand experience, to help brands find solutions across the consumer journey including the post-purchase experience.

That is why it is important for us to evolve from being a creative agency into future thinking, integrated solution partners for our clients solving needs at every touchpoint of the consumer journey. To be able to do that, it is imperative for us to creatively use technology and unlock growth by marrying great storytelling with technology and commerce, thereby providing integrated solutions for our clients. That will determine our success.

Looking ahead to 2023 what does your crystal ball tell you regarding industry trends that marketers should be prepared for?

I think e-commerce will see unprecedented growth and brands will keep a sharp eye on leveraging data and technology in the consumer journey to maximise business outcomes. 2023 will also be about unlocking Web 3.0 and 5G. It will also be interesting to see how metaverse and social commerce play out and are harnessed by brands in their Consumer journeys.

“That is why it is important for us to evolve from being a creative agency into future thinking, integrated solution partners for our clients solving needs at every touchpoint of the consumer journey.”

Specifically, on Metaverse I think 2023 will all be about creative consumer experiences which drive relevance for the brand and business of a client.

What are some lessons you learned managing a large workforce during the pandemic that you carry forth in your management approach today?

Two words that guide us on this path our “Trust” and “Empathy” –The pandemic was a watershed moment that was extremely challenging for all of us. As we come out of it. I think being empathetic towards each other and understanding the situation each of us are in builds a lot of trust within the organisation.

In addition to this we need to empower people, give them their space and invest in their growth. It’s easier said than done. People are the life blood of the organisation and we need to trust and empower them.

The other learning I would say is agility in terms of evolving mindsets, adapting to change quickly, and understanding the need to build new capabilities to foster creativity, innovation and value creation.

Bobby McGill

Bobby McGill

Bobby is the founder and publisher of Branding in Asia.

Read More

subscribe & get more brand in your diet

newsletter

get more brand in your diet

We never share your info,
we only share ours