CEO Insights Exclusive with Radio City CEO Ashit Kukian
Separator

CEO Insights Exclusive with Radio City CEO Ashit Kukian

Separator

Ashit Kukian, CEO, Radio CityThe Indian media & entertainment industry is at an interesting juncture. The business equations are changing big time with significant mergers and acquisitions. According to an EY report, the Indian M&E sector crossed Rs.2.3 trillion in 2023 and is expected to reach Rs.3.1 trillion by 2026. It intrinsically translates into abundant opportunities for aspirant entrepreneurs as well as established leaders. Lend your years to Ashit Kukian, CEO, Radio City, who possesses more than three decades of experience in the industry. Ashit is well known in the industry for not only building M&E businesses right from scratch but also finding talents and growing them into eminent media personalities. An Innovative and result-driven leader, he is focused on achieving exceptional results in highly competitive environments that demand continuous improvement. Below is an excerpt from our recent exclusive interview with Ashit. 

Tell us about your professional journey. At what stage in your journey did you recognize the leader in you?

Reflecting on my professional journey, an amalgamation of experiences emerges, each adding depth to my journey as a leader. It commenced with Johnson & Johnson, where I delved into the intricate world of pharmaceuticals and then painted new horizons with Berger Paints. Yet, it was at L'Oreal India where my passion ignited as a pivotal member of the launch team, witnessing the synergy of innovation and strategy.

The year 1987 heralded a watershed moment as I stepped into the vibrant corridors of The Times of India. Here, amidst broadsheets, magazines, and tabloids, I embraced diverse responsibilities while my venture into event management, especially within the domains of fashion and film, enriched my repertoire.

The pivotal juncture of 2003 saw me embark on a new frontier within The Times Group's television division, shepherding the birth of Zoom Television—an electrifying hub of infotainment. My decade-long saga with Radio City was built in 2005 when I was appointed National Head of Revenue before rising to the position of Chief Executive Officer.

Amidst these diverse landscapes, a truth crystallized — that leadership goes beyond mere titles. It is about a steadfast commitment to problem-solving grounded in humility and a constant thirst for positive evolution. True leadership, I've realized, is not bestowed by organizational hierarchies but rather by an uncompromising belief in catalyzing significant change.

In essence, my journey highlights the belief that leadership is an ongoing journey complemented by deeds that inspire and empower.

You have been a first-hand witness to the technology revolution that happened to the industry. How do you cater to the need to learn, unlearn, and relearn and good sessions?

Without a doubt, observing the technological revolution within an industry reaffirms the imperative for organizations to embrace adaptability when it comes to integrating novel technologies. Considering the continual evolution of customer preferences, media organizations such as ours have an unprecedented obligation to fulfill these shifting demands. To begin with, it is paramount to recognize the changes in media consumption patterns that have been sparked by technological progress. Remaining conscious of these developments enables us to adjust and achieve success in our pursuits. Ultimately, life is a continuous journey of acquiring knowledge, adjusting to new circumstances, and progressing, particularly in the digital age of today. Adapting to this cycle keeps us relevant and energized amidst rapid technological advancements, making life more vibrant and exciting.

True leadership, I've realized, is not bestowed by organizational hierarchies but rather by an uncompromising belief in catalyzing significant change.


What’s your HR strategy? How do you know whether a candidate is suitable for your organization?

We hold a strong conviction that the success of an organization is reliant on its personnel. Hence, individuals constitute the fundamental basis of all endeavors that our organization undertakes. With the understanding that skills can be developed over time, we prioritize willingness, passion for the job and attitude over skills when assessing candidates. We extend our deepest gratitude to candidates who possess a proactive mindset, a positive attitude, and a sincere enthusiasm for their job profile. Presently, there exist efficacious approaches to candidate evaluation that spotlight their enthusiasm for the position, as opposed to perceiving it as an ordinary occupation. We have faith that the necessary skills can be developed through our internal procedures once we have identified the requisite qualities in a candidate.

You know, tell us about your leadership talent and governance medal; what are the methodologies or guidelines you follow?

As a leader, I advocate for setting clear organizational goals and aligning them with individual goals to develop a shared sense of purpose. I have always encouraged my team members by granting them freedom while offering guidance. I have consistently nurtured a culture of motivation among my team members by authorizing them liberty while concurrently providing direction and supervision.

My journey highlights the belief that leadership is an ongoing journey complemented by deeds that inspire and empower


Delegation, in my opinion, serves to empower individuals rather than merely evade accountability. I practice the approach of "Management by Wandering Around"; this strategy enables me to have consistent communication with my team to understand their progress and offer solutions whenever needed. Although seemingly inconsequential, it empowers me to remain informed about ongoing initiatives and projects within the organization.

How do you perceive the regulatory side of things? What change in regulations and rules would you like to see in the media and entertainment industry?

The media and entertainment industries are well-regulated. However, from my profound involvement in the radio industry, I am convinced that there are specific regulatory modifications that merit support. For instance, the existing license fees pertinent to radio operations are considered excessively steep, necessitating their rationalization to maintain the expansion of the industry. Furthermore, an enduring appeal has been made to authorize radio stations to transmit news, an action that we contend would amplify the dissemination of information to even the most geographically isolated regions of the nation. This will not only facilitate universal access to news but also enable radio stations, which are inherently localized, to assume a crucial role in their respective communities. Moreover, in comparison to other industries, we contend that the radio sector is overburdened with regulations; therefore, we support a regulatory framework that is more lax to stimulate innovation and expansion.

What would you advise individuals aiming to set benchmarks in their career in this industry?

This should be more accurately classified as a suggestion than pure advice. For any individual to flourish or achieve excellence in any industry, it is critical to comprehend and abide by fundamental rules and expectations. Whatever position you occupy, be it that of a CEO or a Management Trainee, no matter how small or large your role is, passion, dedication and commitment will take you a long way in your professional as well as personal journey. Adhere to the organization's goals, carry out assigned duties diligently, and always continue to enhance your knowledge and learn from those who demonstrate exceptional leadership qualities. Setting a personal goal and working towards ensuring one's professional growth and development will contribute significantly towards a set benchmark in any career path one takes.

 

Hobby: “I appreciate vintage Hindi songs and ghazals, among other genres, when it comes to listening to retro music. Moreover, I enjoy unwinding and conversing with friends. An additional enthusiasm of mine is to travel about.”

Favorite Cuisines: “I am immensely fond of Indian cuisine, with a particular weakness for spicy non-vegetarian meals.”

Favorite Movies: "The Guns of Navarone, Gangs of Wasseypur, and action films such as those in the ‘Underworld’ series are among my all-time picks. Likewise, I relish timeless masterpieces such as ‘Satya’ and ‘Vaastav.’"

Favorite Travel Destinations: “I enjoy traveling to the United Kingdom, particularly London and Europe. Switzerland, Prague, and Spain are a few of my favorite European spots. I have a preference for tranquil environments that are not crowded. Undeniably, nothing outpaces the enticing atmosphere of Goa; it is my absolute favorite location on earth.”