sb_topographyJust the other day, I took a closer look at the mirror and found an extra wisp of grey hair. In our business, it means “you’ve come a long, long way”. At least in terms of mileage.And what do I have to show for it ?

Circa 1975. After an agonizing three years on a degree in commerce and accountancy, I was looking for something that stimulated “left brain”. Step One, was a Diploma in Advertising at the Bhavan’s College. Step Two, was working hard at it, and winning the gold medal for the “Best Student of the Year”. Step Three, was strapping on my seatbelt to enter the big, bad world of advertising.

My grassroots stint as a Copywriter was with Shilpi, in 1976. Their Bombay office placed me in Ahmedabad, after which I returned to Bangalore, to join Sista’s – working for their Bangalore and Madras offices. I joined Hindustan Thompson Associates* in 1979, working as a Senior Writer – again, for Bangalore and Madras.

1987 saw me striking out on my own, into freelancing. And as the years rolled by, I met up with other partners in crime : Paul Fernandes, Madhav Mahesh, Sumit Rathor and Justin Santosh. Together, we established a growing pool of creative talent – integrating the skills of art directors, copywriters, photographers and media interfacers.

An “open office” network where work was assigned to team members based on their background, skills and availability for the job. Importantly, it was a totally freewheeling system that did not have any hierarchies. No Chiefs, no Indians, no problems.

After all these years, this is one large family. And we’re still up and running. Now, do I see another wisp of grey ?

Sharath Bhat

* Now J Walter Thompson, in India