PG Was The Greatest Team Builder: Sundar Rajagopalan

He was and always will be the King of India media, says Sundar Rajagopalan, Former CEO of TBSL & Director of the Times Group

I joined The Times in October 1979 as a marketing trainee. V. S. Thirumalai (Chief Ad Manager) gave
me three thick books and told me to report to Mr. Pradeep Guha. It was my first assignment. Those ledgers like books contained data from survey results of the first All India National readership survey. Pradeep was crystal clear when he briefed me on my assignment. Dharmyug, a national Hindi magazine was difficult to sell to media planners despite its wide circulation. In contrast, the English Illustrated Weekly was booked for many many months in advance. Pradeep wanted me to figure out how we could use the survey results to clinch more deals.

I toiled hard and was able to cull out prominent highlights that could help us sell Dharmyug. Armed
with this newfound data, Pradeep took me to meet Roda Mehta, the Queen of Media at OBM. He gave me, a total rookie, the opportunity to present to someone as senior as her! But he didn’t leave me totally alone. He jumped in to support all the critical points I was making and created an aggressive pitch with the data I had found. We, as a team, won many campaigns for Dharmyug thereafter. This is how my journey began with him. I was so impressed and awestruck that day and continued to be for the decades of partnership we shared thereafter. 

His quest for knowledge helped him stay ahead of the curve always. He took courses in far off places,
continuing to up-skill which is why he’s even known as a digital expert today. This coupled with his adventure for newer challenges led us to co-found a start-up in a unique space. His tenacity to work into the wee hours of the morning and yet be fully functional and on time the next morning was exemplary. Right from Times till now (Jan 2020 was the last time I witnessed it first hand). 

I have learnt many aspects of work-life from him. I rarely saw anyone who worked harder, energized
teams better, or created an enjoyable work environment. He was kind to people, never judged a person before getting to know them, encouraging new ideas and much more. 

Pradeep was the greatest team builder there ever was. Even last year, he flew for an ex Response
Delhi Reunion in Feb in the morning and flew back the same evening despite having left Times many years ago. All because he wanted to meet the team he so loved. The Management Committee which he formed comprised of Chinnen, Bhaskar, Sunil, Srini and me. It still continues to exist and we have a very active WhatsApp group. 

Over the years, I became a part of his family. Papia, his wife, always treated me like a brother. They both have showered me with so much love and have invited me to all their get-togethers, despite my living in Delhi. I am very saddened for Papia and Sanket and hope God gives them the strength to bear this huge loss. 

I am devastated and can’t imagine my world without him. I will miss him dearly and his comforting
hand on my shoulders. 

He was and always will be the King of India media. Love live the King. 

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