BW Unveils India's 100 Most Influential Marketing Leaders

More than 25% of the BW Top 100 Marketers comprises women leaders. FMCG, Auto, Tech & BFSI dominate the list that not only recognises leaders across India who have contributed to and continue to shape the marketing & business landscape but also younger leaders who are building future-ready brands

Marketing’s role in growing businesses becomes crucial in the face of uncertainties and unprecedented impediments. The year gone is another example, where leaders have doubled down on making meaningful connections with their consumers. With the rise of technology, generative AI and constantly changing behaviour, marketing leaders are marrying codes and theories with creativity and ideas to create deeper ways of engagement and enabling potent consumer experiences. 

The BW Top 100 Marketers 2023 recognises these leaders whose marketing and business acumen have pushed their brands forward. Their ability to prioritise consumers, manage risks and explore new ideas is making their work the most critical differentiator amid the plethora of products and services. The leaders represent different geographies and key markets showcasing some of the good work happening across India.

Women Leaders On The Rise 

In comparison to the first edition, which included over 20 per cent of women leaders, this year, more than 25 per cent of the list saw women leaders making notable differences in the larger marketing landscape. From the FMCG sector, the most influential marketing leaders feature Harman Dhillon, Vice President, Skin care, Color Cosmetics, Dove Masterbrand, Hindustan Unilever; Kavita Chaturvedi, Chief Operating Officer, Snacks Business, ITC and Saakshi Verma Menon, Marketing Director, Kimberly Clark India.

The tech sector continues to see women leaders grow and hold more important positions. Highlighted in the list this year are Roshni Das, General Manager & Regional CMO, Asia Pacific and Japan, Marketing & Partner Scale, Intel Solutions & Services India; Neha Barjatya, Marketing Director, Google India; Neha Ahuja, Director, Head of Marketing – Spotify; Anindita Veluri, Director Marketing, Adobe India and Amrita Thapar, till recently Chief Marketing Officer, Microsoft India and has now taken up a new mandate as Director Experiential Marketing, Microsoft (India, Japan and Southeast Asia). Anjali Gupta, Group Marketing Head, Sify Technologies and Anuradha Sehgal Chief Marketing Officer, Coforge also make it to the 2023 list.

Deepali Naair, Group Chief Marketing Officer, CK Birla Group and Sunita Bangard, Group Head - Consumer Insights and Brand Development, Aditya Birla Group take top spots as well along with Asha Kharga, Chief Customer and Brand Officer, Mahindra Group; Jyoti Kumar Bansal, Chief - Branding, Communications, CSR, Sustainability, Tata Power and Minal Srivastava, Deputy Executive Director, Dalmia Cements as women leaders who are making an impact beyond marketing.

From the BFSI sector, Shoma Narayanan, Managing Director & Head, Group Strategic Marketing & Communications, DBS Bank India and Sujatha V Kumar, Head of Marketing, India & South Asia, Visa feature on the list. 

The auto, auto ancillary and related industry is seeing women leaders push forth some aggressive and inclusive marketing strategies that are benefitting their brands. Some of the leaders here include Ipshita Chowdhury, Chief Marketing Officer, Valvoline Cummins; Kavitha Ganesan, General Manager – Marketing, TVS Eurogrip and Jaya Jamrani, Vice President - Marketing, Castrol India. 

Also included this year are Aparna Giridhar, Vice President Marketing, Swiggy and Anuja Mishra, CMO, Honasa (Mamaearth, BBlunt, The DermaCo, Aqualogica) representing younger brands. The only consumer healthcare brand marketer among the winners this year is Anurita Chopra, Head of Marketing - India Sub Continent, Haleon India. 

Shwetal Basu, Chief of Marketing and Communication, Shoppers Stop; Aparna Bhawal, Chief Marketing Officer, KFC India & Partner Countries and Pooja Baid, Chief Marketing Officer, Versuni India are the other women leaders on the list this year. 

FMCG Leads The Way

Nearly 30 per cent of India’s top most influential marketing leaders list this year is from the very competitive FMCG sector and many seasoned names take the top spots. In addition to Chandan Mukherji, Director & Senior Vice President, Strategy, Marketing & Communication, Nestlé India, two leaders from RB are on the list. These are Saurabh Jain, Regional Marketing Director, Hygiene, Reckitt South Asia and Dilen Gandhi, Regional Marketing Director, South Asia, Health and Nutrition, Reckitt for the groundbreaking work the company is doing.

Similarly, Sharat Verma, Chief Marketing Officer, P&G India & VP, Fabric Care and Girish Kalyanaraman, Vice President, Marketing Operations, P&G India both feature in the list as P&G continues to support important causes in India. 

Hindustan Unilever includes three leaders in the list this year. In addition to Harman Dhillon, Shiva Krishnamurthy, Vice President – Foods & Beverages and Srirup Mitra, Head, Skin Cleansing India and Personal Care South Asia are both on the list for the culture-shaping and people-empowering work that these brands are doing. 

Gunjit Jain, Executive Vice President, Marketing, Colgate-Palmolive (India); S. Prasanna Rai, Chief Marketing Officer & Head - Ecommerce Business, Wipro Consumer Care and Lighting; Sunay Bhasin, Chief Commercial Officer, MTR Foods and Sunil Gadgil, Marketing Director, Nivea India are the other super marketers from this sector. 

Foods & Beverages saw several marketing leaders stand out as well. These include names such as Ankit Desai, CMO India, Hershey Company; Anshul Khanna, Vice President & Foods Category Head - India and South Asia, PepsiCo; Arnab Roy, Vice President & Head of Marketing, India & South Asia, The Coca Cola Company; Varun Kandhari, Director Marketing & Customer Marketing, Mars Wrigley; Zoher Kapuswala, Lead Marketing, Ferrero India Brands (Ferrero Rocher, Nutella & Tic Tac); Gunjan Khetan, Marketing Director, Perfetti Van Melle India and George Kovoor, Senior Vice President, Beverages, PepsiCo India.

Auto Marketers Up The Pace

Fourteen marketers from the auto industry find a place on the list this year. Veterans whose work not only is impacting their own companies and the BFSI sector but have become synonymous with marketing leadership in India and are grooming several young leaders. The list includes Hardeep Brar, National Head, Sales & Marketing, Kia India; Ranjivjit Singh, Chief Growth Officer, Hero MotoCorp; Shashank Srivastava, Senior Executive Officer - Marketing & Sales, Maruti Suzuki India; Vinay Pant, Head - Marketing, Tata Motors Passenger Vehicles and Virat Khullar, Group Head Marketing, Hyundai India.

Other prominent names on the list this year include Abbey Thomas, Head - Marketing & PR, Volkswagen Passenger Cars India and Shubhranshu Singh, Chief Marketing Officer - CVBU, Tata Motors.

BFSI Marketers Beating The Odds

BFSI marketing in India still sees the big names continue to work towards building and retaining consumer trust. In the list this year are Naarayan T.V., Chief Marketing Officer, IDFC FIRST Bank; Rahul Talwar, EVP & Chief Marketing Officer, Max Life Insurance and Ravi Santhanam, Chief Marketing Officer & Head – Corporate Communications & Liability Products, HDFC. Rohit Bhasin, who very recently took on the mandate as President and CMO, Kotak Mahindra Bank, is also among the most influential marketing leaders 2023 list.

Some of the other eminent names who are now pushing the envelope not only in this but also in the insurtech and fintech sectors include Sai Narayan, Chief Marketing Officer, PolicyBazaar; Sumit Mathur, Chief Marketing Officer, One97 Communications (Paytm); Ashish Mishra, Executive Vice President Marketing, ACKO and Puneeth Bekal, Director - Marketing, Mastercard.

Consumer Electronics Moving Hearts

Work done in the consumer electronics sector stood out last year in showcasing products and features, for different price points. Consumers have been spoilt for choice in this space and competition intensifies each year. The list sees names such as Aditya Babbar, Senior Director - Head Product & Marketing, Samsung India; Aman Gupta, Co-founder and CMO,  boAt Lifestyle and Damyant Singh Khanoria, Chief Marketing Officer, Oppo whose initiatives have made an impact in growing their brands.

Also featuring this year, from the consumer durables sector, are Deba Ghoshal, Vice President & Head - Marketing, Voltas; Prashant Jain, Senior Director - Marketing, HP; Sunil Narula, Senior Vice President, Sales & Marketing, Panasonic Life Solutions India; Prasenjit Basu, Head of Marketing, Voltbek Home Appliances and Sameer Saxena, Director- Marketing, Legrand.

Marketer of Marketers

A hallmark of the list this year is the presence of leaders whose impact is going beyond marketing. These names include Debabrata Mukherjee, who took on the role of MD & CEO, Bata Bangladesh, and is known for his work at Emami Agrotech, UB and Coca-Cola before that. A change agent and business growth driver, Himanshu Khanna, Chief Marketing Officer, Raymond is also on the list. Industry veterans Ajay Kakar, Brand & Marketing Strategist and Karthi Marshan, whose influence is the same on veterans as it is on younger marketers, are also on the list.

In a similar vein, from the tech sector Amit Tiwari, Global Head of Marketing Demand Centre, TCS and Ravi Desai, Director - India & Emerging Countries, Prime & Marketing, Amazon who have set newer benchmarks join Raj Rishi Singh, Chief Marketing & Business Officer, MakeMyTrip and Avneesh Khosla, Chief Marketing Officer, Vodafone Idea along with Atit Mehta, Marketing Head, Byjus and Ajay Dang, President & Head - Marketing, UltraTech Cement on the list this year.

Leaders To Watch Out For

Some of the other leaders who make it to the list this year include Nitin Saini, Vice President - Marketing, Mondelez India and Vineeth Viswambharan, Associate Vice-President of Marketing & Sales, Adani Wilmar for once again taking on a mandate beyond marketing. Amedeo Aragona, Marketing Head, Kinder Brands, Ferrero India and Tushar Malhotra, Marketing Head, Bisleri from the sector too make it to the Top 100 Marketers list this year.

Other names in the auto sector that stood out for clutter-breaking work last year include Sudhir Malhotra, Vice President - Sales & Marketing, Renault India; Udit Malhotra, Head - Marketing, Morris Garages (MG Motors) India and Gaurav Sinha, Head of Marketing, Audi India.

The BFSI marketing leaders pushing the anvil also feature Chandramohan Mehra, Chief Marketing Officer, Bajaj Allianz Life Insurance; Akash Deep Batra, Executive Director & Head of Marketing, Customer Experience & Analytics, DBS Bank; Sameer Gupta, EVP & Head Decision Sciences & Portfolio Management, IndusInd Bank and Sameer Shetty, Head, Digital Business & Transformation, Axis Bank.

Marketing leaders who are doing engaging work in retail include Harshavardhan Chauhaan, VP, Chief Marketing & Omnichannel Officer, Spencer's Retail & Nature’s Basket; Siddhant Narayan, Head - Marketing, Nike; Saikot Das, Marketing Director - South Asia, MEA, Levis Strauss & Co. and also Alok Mahajan, Chief Marketing Officer, Sleepwell.

Other business-to-business and tech marketers on the list this year are Arvind Saxena, Senior GM & Head - Marketing & Corporate Communications, NEC Corporation India; Shoumyan Biswas, Chief Marketing Officer, Tata Digital and Kunal Dubey, Chief Marketing Officer, Cleartrip.

Akshay Kapoor, Chief Marketing Officer, DLF; Santosh Hegde, VP - Marketing, Licious; Deepak Sinha, Vice President Marketing, Bira 91; Anish Varghese, DGM - Marketing, Joy Alukkas and Mustufa Arsiwalla, Chief Marketing Officer, Britannia Bel Foods are the other marketers whose work promises to continue making an impact. 

In its second edition, BW Top Marketers expanded from 50 of the first edition to include 100 marketing leaders. One reason for this was to recognise the surge in marketing initiatives in India per se and also the rise of newer brands that are making technology and creativity work harder for the consumer.

These marketers were awarded in a ceremony held in Delhi on August 18, 2023, during the BW Festival of Marketing, which saw more than 100 super marketers take the stage to share their advice and experiences.

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