Bringing back the industry from its brink to its heydays is an opportunity, a blessing and a challenge which I am looking forward to: Roshan Abbas
This is Roshan Abbas’ first interview after getting elected as the new president of EEMA.
Having won the EEMA Presidential election with a thumping two-third vote share, Roshan Abbas, MD, Encompass and Co-Founder of Kommune has taken charge in extraordinary times.
There are a lot of expectations from the new leadership helmed by Abbas. In his first interview after winning the elections, Abbas spoke to BW Applause and Everything Experiential about his win, his strategy to address the crisis that the industry is facing and his vision to make EEMA more inclusive.
What do you attribute your win to?
From the very beginning the issue for me was to build a campaign around myself. In everything I do in life, I try to operate from a space of zero ego and curious learning. In the last three weeks, I have spoken to people from the industry spread across every place in India. A good trait of leadership is that you listen. By listening you get to know the true problem and this has enabled me to connect with people easily. I focused on three things- ‘Har baat ek saath’, bring the pulse back and lastly we need to write a new story for EEMA.
For the next 12 months, what will be EEMA’s and Roshan Abbas’s priority?
The first thing I want to do is to get all the people together. I have a 30, 60 and a 90 day deliverable plan. Speed is of the essence. I am focussing on building a professional network of agencies spread throughout the country. Building collaborations where everyone profits is possible. We also need to approach the government. Uniquely in the covid situation, India is managing things to the best of its ability. And it would be great if we are actually able to bring this new India to the forefront. I want a global team which focuses on promoting India as a global destination.
You said that you have 30, 60 and 90 day deliverable plans, can you elaborate on that?
I am reaching out to members for suggestions so that I can come up with a common minimum program. The biggest focus for 30 days will be to try and get the government to help the entire industry. There are a lot of payments of many agencies that are stuck with the government. If those are released we will be able to help so many people down the line. We also need to find out how we can bring revenues through digital. I think there is a lot of re-skilling required. Creating digital experiences and building interactivity is critical.
Despite comprising 45 percent of the industry workforce, women are still under-represented in leadership positions. How do you plan to address this gender gap in leadership?
Every organisation that I have run has had women in its leadership. In Geometry Encompass too my entire top team was 85 per cent women. Women play a vital role in Glitch and Kommune also.
At EEMA, the issue has been that while there are women entrepreneurs who are running agencies, those are under-represented. One of my proposals earlier was an all-women conference. Such a conference will have 400 women professionals from our industry. This will introduce us to many new faces. Women do not want reservations, they just want equal opportunities and empowering them will be important and definitely my priority.
EEMA has done great work over the years, however the perception of it being limited to two events annually still persists. How do you plan to alter that perception?
We should be investing in co-creating things where we make our members appear as heroes, which they are. Till last year EEMA was a very physical organisation, but the pandemic has forced it to become a digital organisation. Therefore I do not see any reason why we cannot have monthly meet-ups. So, not making it as a success for a few and celebration of two days in a year is the critical part. Leveraging its presence on all social media channels like Instagram, Twitter is important. A digital first EEMA is very important.
You are getting into a new role at a time which is challenging. Do you see it as a blessing or a challenge?
I definitely see it as a challenge but I also see it as happening to me at the right time. I want to look at the legacy and what it is that you want to leave behind. In the event industry, at a time like this, it is very critical to bring positivity to a large degree. I think that I have been given this opportunity which is challenging and I will try to give back to the industry as much as I can. Everything that I have learned as an event manager, I can now impart to people. Bringing back the industry from its brink to its heydays is an opportunity, a blessing, a challenge which I am looking forward to. It is going to be a huge uphill task but I am blessed with a wonderful team of people.
Finally, how do you plan to help and guide everyone to build investable businesses?
Investable businesses are businesses that perform on many parameters. An investor asks many questions: Are they process led, do they have the right people in the right position, are they well planned for the future, do they have a unique value proposition. When we Built Encompass we were a small agency. And treated many things with that lens. Till someone told us “Company choti nahi hoti, soch choti hoti hai. Everyone must realise that companies with strong, ethical management teams attract investors, customers and talented professionals. It was this and strong financial planning that made Encompass what it is. Jo chahiye Haq se maango. Don’t sell yourself cheap, don’t sell yourself to the first person who comes along. Investors are not a one night stand but a lifelong marriage. Choose your partner well. Ask yourself the key question: will you like to spend a day with your partner if no business was to be discussed.
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