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Offbeat: Shekhar Mhaskar – Dancing to his heart’s content

Adgully’s special feature section – ‘Offbeat’ – seeks to give a peek into the lesser known facets of our very well-known industry leaders. We present, in the industry leaders’ own words, an interesting read on areas that are not usually highlighted in regular media coverage – be it about their childhood days, secret skills that they possess, how they unwind from their hectic schedules, and much more. 

A computer engineer having followed his heart, Shekhar Mhaskar, Executive Vice-President, Isobar, has been part of the digital advertising industry for more than 2 decades with a varied experience in heading Digital SBUs at renowned agencies like Ogilvy One, Cheil Worldwide, and Maxus. He also straddled being a successful entrepreneur, before taking up the mandate at Isobar to head the overall business in the West; and nationally the digital creative and technology services. 

Mhaskar’s overall industry experience spans across Television, Film, Internet, eCommerce, Mobile, Social, Online Media and New Technology; across industry verticals like FMCG, IT, Entertainment, BFSI, Education, Telecom, etc. Few of the big clients under his belt have been Nokia, Cisco, British Airways, Perfetti, American Express, Samsung, etc. with an international exposure in London and Singapore. 

He brings in a rich experience of integrating the teams at the agency and at the clients’ end to collaboratively conceptualise award winning digital advertising solutions and execute them successfully to tackle business challenges and drive ROI. 

A precious childhood trait that you still possess?
I am a cleanliness freak and I have OCD of keeping things very clean, tidy and systematic. If I am in a meeting with my laptop and my phone, I need it to be placed in the right way and not just anyhow and anywhere. I have got a sanitizer here in office, at my home and in my car. 

Which superhero did you look up to as a kid and why? Which superhero power you wish you possessed?
When I was a kid going to school, there was this animated series – ‘Claymation’, where there were these two partners who would go and conquer the world outside Earth. That kind of super power that one had to make the world a better place to live in is what I would want. 

What is your biggest fear and how do you face it?
I am very scared of losing someone very close, be it family or friends. 

A special talent or skill you possess that very few know about?
Very few people in the office know about this but I tend to dance better in a crowd and that is something that I like. I try Jive and Salsa and I enjoy it and that’s the time when I let my hair down! 

What kind of music would one find in your playlist?
I like to listen to something that really calms me down from all the office, traffic and family pressure. 

What is your go-to activity to relax?
Cleaning the house and cooking is what relaxes me. I cook the usual comfort food that we eat at home, not anything exotic. I cook at my own pace, adding my own touch to it. 

What is the greatest lesson that you have learnt in life?
The biggest lesson that I have learnt is to forgive people, I have always been like this. If you take a grudge along with you, it becomes a burden for the rest of your life and you won’t be able to move ahead, be it in your professional or personal life. If someone has said or done something which is really hampering your career, you should let go of it; there are a lot of other opportunities to overcome that and be better. 

A social cause that you are passionate about?
Taking care of girl child, especially underprivileged girl child. 

One thing about yourself that you want to change?
I am usually very calm, quiet, composed and a patient person, but I want to be really aggressive; but being composed even as I am aggressive. 

If not in your current designation, what would you have been?
I wouldn’t have been in the advertising industry. I have had stints with various professions. Something really different from advertising that I would be doing is flying. I’ve had my hand at flying, but I couldn’t take it up. I have always been inclined towards creative advertising. 

There are a few other things like dancing and writing coffee table books. Before joining Isobar, I had a three-and-a-half-year stint of my own, where I wanted to experiment things for myself and things that I wanted to do. That was the period when I experimented a lot with doing documentary films with a few friends, setting up exhibitions, helping my sister with her entrepreneurial venture, tried my hand at RJing – it’s all creative at the end of day and that’s what I enjoy. 

Three apps you cannot live without?
Myntra for online shopping, HFDC Bank application, and the entire bouquet of Google, be it Maps, Google Assistant, Google Home and the entire Google ecosystem. 

What kind of content do you consume?
I don’t watch a lot of TV, but OTT being such a game changer, I end up watching a lot of OTT content, especially on Netflix like ‘Sacred Games’, ‘Powder’ and similar things. 

Which organisations outside Isobar do you know a lot of people?
Ogilvy and Omnicom, where I had my largest stint for about a decade and from the very first company I started working, which was a television production-cum-animation house called Pixel Point. 

What are the two things about this industry that you don’t like?
Clients think that they know a lot in digital, which they actually don’t, but they don’t accept it because they are the clients, which is a big hurdle for them, for the agency and the entire advertising economy that is there. We will never be able to grow at a faster pace than we would have usually been able to. If you tell them something that doesn’t work for them and recommended the right way to go, they don’t really take it in a positive way and are not sporting about it. I don’t really like that, but let’s say that the client is the king. 

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
I would love to live in New Zealand if I could. I haven’t been there, but from what I have known and heard and seen from people who have been there, maybe after retiring from work I would want to go and settle in New Zealand!

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