Leaders are admired for their competence but loved for their compassion, remembers Bharat Avalani, member of the Executive Committee of the Asian Federation of Advertising Associations and the Vice President of the International Advertising Association
I first met PG, as Pradeep Guha was known, in Jaipur in 2003. He was the Organizing Chairman of the 23rd Edition of AdAsia organized by the Asia Federation of Advertising Associations (AFAA). I looked up to him with great admiration for the way he pulled off perhaps one of the best ever AdAsia Congress’ ably supported by his buddy Ramesh Narayan. He left no stone unturned and laid out the red carpet for all of us.
In 2012, PG as Chairman of AFAA, nominated me for the Executive Committee of the Asian Federation of Advertising Associations. At a meeting in Pattaya, Thailand, later that year, we were lamenting the shortage of good talent in our industry. Pradeep was inspired to do something about it. He had a dream to give young talent the boost that would lead them to make a quantum leap in their careers. He requested me to design a programme to prepare young people to take on the challenges ahead of them in a fast-changing world.
The AFAA / IAA Fasttrack Program was inspired by his vision to help young people in the marketing and advertising industry manifest their true potential - a goal that resonated with me both personally and professionally. Over the years from 2013 to 2019, Fasttrack has impacted more than 200 talented individuals from 11 countries. The 200 plus young enthusiasts are his legacy.
Post the Pandemic I hope to continue to deliver the program to honour his vision and dream. It gratifies me now to know that he saw this dream of his, fulfilled. I was touched to receive a note in 2019 from PG saying, “Bharat, it feels real good to see saplings grow into trees. Thanks for being the quintessential element of this beautiful dream.”
I last met PG face to face in February 2019 in Kochi. He was the Organising Chairman of the 44th Edition of the World Advertising Congress organised by the International Advertising Association (IAA). He gave me the experience of a lifetime. He and Jaideep Gandhi who was assisting him with the Speakers were waiting for Amitabh Bachchan to arrive from Mumbai to deliver his opening keynote speech the next morning. It was almost midnight when the iconic star landed in Kochi. Despite being late into the night, Amitabh Bachchan insisted
on doing a proper rehearsal in the Conference Hall. PG invited me to observe how a professional prepares to deliver a speech. Even though it was a prepared text, Amitabh Bachchan took almost two hours to rehearse and correct his delivery. It was deeply humbling to see how a top iconic star prepares. There is no shortcut to success. Later Pradeep introduced me to Amitabh and he took an iconic photo of me with the legend at 2 am in morning.
At the Kochi IAA World Congress, there was lively banter about Brand Dharma. But in my mind’s eye, Pradeep Guha will remain embedded for the kind of person that he was and for the number of people whose lives he influenced and touched. Perhaps he fulfilled his mission on earth, and it was his karma to be recalled to his new heavenly abode, on such an auspicious day as Onam, the harvest festival. It was Sivapriya, my batchmate who pointed out that it was the day when Lord Vishnu granted moksha (eternal salvation) to Mahabali Chakravarthi, the noble and prosperous ruler. Who knows it may have been the same for PG.
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