Zee CEO Punit Goenka: ‘Youth Is the Fastest-Growing Audience’

A time of transition is always difficult. But Punit Goenka has managed successfully because he looks upon his father — who founded Indian media and entertainment company, Zee Entertainment, of which Goenka is now CEO — as his guru. He will be successful, he says, the day his father thinks he is successful.

Goenka spoke at the recent Wharton India Economic Forum (WIEF) MBA conference in Philadelphia. In this interview with Knowledge@Wharton, he discusses his global plans, leadership style and the digital imperative in media and entertainment.

An edited transcript of the conversation follows.

Zee CEO Punit Goenka
Knowledge@Wharton: When did you take over from your father, Subhash Chandra, as CEO of Zee Entertainment? What were the early days like? What leadership skills did you need at that time and how do those compare to the skills you need to lead Zee Entertainment today?

Punit Goenka: I took over from him as CEO in 2008 and then, finally, got the managing directorship as well in 2009. I think the early period was for transitioning from how my father ran the business to trying to get a more collaborative approach in the organization rather than a top-down approach that the first generation entrepreneur tends to drive. Today, he is the visionary for the company and I am the implementer. So they kind of complement each other. He creates the vision for the organization and for the group. He has CEOs and directors like me who go out and make his vision a reality.

Knowledge@Wharton: How does the division of labor work between your father and yourself?

Goenka: Luckily, he is not involved in the day-to-day business any longer. He reviews the business on a monthly or quarterly basis and as he deems necessary, of course. The reports go to him on a monthly basis. But, generally, his reviews are on a quarterly basis. We have an annual vision conference with him and the senior management of the company where he sets the next five years’ agenda for us. On the basis of that, we report back to him every year.

Knowledge@Wharton: It was interesting to hear your presentation about the media & entertainment (M&E) industry and how it is working in India. How would you say the growth of India’s M&E industry compares with the industry’s growth globally? Where do you see the biggest opportunities?

Goenka: The biggest opportunities are in the distribution sector where India is moving from an analog market to a digital television market. In the past four years, we have digitized more than 70 million homes in the country and the agenda set by the government is that by December 2016 the entire country should be digital. That is another 90 million homes. In an analog environment, bandwidths are restricted to 40 to 60 channels. The opportunity for creating a lot more content is far greater in a digital environment. That also delivers great choice for the consumer.

Originally published by Knowledge@Wharton April 24, 2015.

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