Abhinav Kumar | The Innovator 25 2016
Charting the future of public relations
Abhinav Kumar In25The Innovator 25:

Abhinav Kumar

Chief communications & marketing officer, Europe

Tata Consultancy Services
Brussels

"No change has ever come about without someone having the courage to challenge how things are done"

 

Indian IT giant Tata Consultancy Services made a smart decision when it opted to integrate marketing and communications in Europe under Abhinav Kumar in 2011. Since then Kumar, who had previously served in senior communications roles in Latin America and Europe, has overseen a string of award-winning campaigns at the company, many of which leverage a passion for groundbreaking research and analysis into such areas as youth social media adoption and political trends.

How do you define innovation?
Constantly and ruthlessly evolving what you do and how you do it, in order to remain relevant to your audiences.

Most innovative PR/comms campaign you’ve seen in the last 12 months?
London Marathon — Running a Marathon in Space.

What brands and/or agencies are most innovative when it comes to marketing/PR?
Coke, Nike, Underarmour, Lego, Unilever.

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider ‘innovative.’
After serving as Communications Director for Europe, I was entrusted with additional charge of the marketing department in 2011. That was an important watershed moment for us. The integration of marketing and communications capabilities into holistic campaigns has led to some really innovative and path breaking work by our teams - resulting in 40+ brand, marketing and communications awards in just the last couple of years. I am really proud of the evolution that the team has been able to achieve — once we started breaking silos and taking a campaign and cross functional team approach to our key initiatives.

In what area of marketing/PR do you see the most innovation?
Social media & online marketing.

How would you describe the communications/PR industry’s level of innovation?

More innovative then other marketing disciplines

Where do you see the greatest opportunity for marketing & PR to become more innovative?
Content & creativity.

Who most influences how innovative a brand’s marketing/PR is?
CMO

Who is your mentor and why?
No single person. I look to derive blended inspiration from the words and deeds of many great leaders in the fields of business, politics and academia, whom I have the fortune to interact with in my position. Even mentorship can be crowdsourced. Our CEO Chandra, while running a massive 362,000 people, 44-country global operation, manages to routinely run marathons — he is a constant source of inspiration towards always challenging limits of what can be achieved.

How do you find inspiration?
The best way to find it is to not look for it. The best ideas come when you disconnect and just take a walk, go cycling or travel. Sometimes coffee conversations with some very talent people on the team lead to some great ideas.

Advice for people seeking to bring new ideas, ways of doing things to their organizations?
Take risks. No change has ever come about without someone having the courage to challenge how things are done and the vision to forge a better way ahead. At the same time you can't just throw caution to the winds and risk your whole business. Hence taking risks, but having the judgement to choose very deliberately which areas you really take a bet on and innovate in is essential.

In your opinion, what’s the most innovative place in the world?

Your head. Once it is disconnected from a smartphone or processing a screen.

What’s your favorite time of day and why?
Evenings with the kids and my wife — since they are and will always be my most important stakeholders.