Varun Channa rejoins JWT for PO1 biz unit; new role for Babita Baruah

J Walter Thompson India has appointed Varun Channa as Senior Vice President & Managing Partner for JWT’s business unit – Power of One (PO1) – that handles a large number of PepsiCo’s flagship brands. He replaces Babita Baruah, who moves to another role within the group. Channa will be based in Gurgaon and will report in to Tarun Rai, CEO, J Walter Thompson South Asia. 

An alumnus of the Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies, Channa has over two decades of experience in marketing, advertising and media. He started his career at J Walter Thompson and was an integral part of its growth for over a decade. Previously, as Managing Director at Mindshare, Kuala Lumpur, he was leading the transformation of the organisation from being perceived as a ‘traditional media’ agency to being a tech and data savvy company. Prior to that, as Marketing Director at Danone India & South Asia, he worked on the market entry strategy for Danone in the Dairy category for India, Sri Lanka and Nepal. He continued in his role as Marketing Director, when he moved to Danone Indonesia in 2009. Channa’s global experience spans a multitude of categories comprising Beverages, Dairy, Personal Wash, Consumer Electronics, Durables and Media. 

Channa is an innovative and digital-age thinker with a track record of turning around businesses and delivering results under complex situations. 

Commenting on the movements, Tarun Rai said, “I’ve known Varun for a long time and respect him for his passion, his leadership skills and for his positive outlook to life and work. For over a decade he was with us at JWT Mumbai and contributed to building his clients’ business and to the growth of our office. He went on to gain experience in marketing – in India and in South East Asia. He rounded it off with a stint in Mindshare. It’s great to have Varun return to advertising and to JWT with the experience that he has gained across marketing and media. I am sure his passion and his drive will propel the wonderful PepsiCo brands that we handle to greater success.” 

Rai further said, “Babita has had a remarkable career with us. She has worked across many JWT offices and has brought the same energy and commitment to all her various roles. Her stint as Head of our PepsiCo business has been exceptional. She has always led from the front and is a fantastic leader. I am extremely proud that she is moving on to another senior role within the group. I wish her all the very best.” 

Commenting on the appointment, Varun Channa said, “It’s great to be back at JWT to work on the most exciting brands in the world and lead a fiercely passionate team. I hope to bring my varied experience across markets and across functions to help make the PepsiCo brands and business stronger.”


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