Taking the front seat to growth: 2020 was our leap year

Written by Himani Rathore

March 16, 2021 | Abhinav Srivastava
When I joined SPAG, the pandemic had just set in. There was uncertainty on many fronts. How long is this going to last? Do we wait it out or recalibrate our approach? We all stood in half stead with business plans in hand that hadn’t quite envisioned this disruption. But that’s not a very sustainable approach when you have a pandemic at your hands that stretched on. This was the true test of our agility.
Breaching the comfort level

SPAG’s growth journey so far had been in line with the vision Aman and Shivani set out with six years ago. The business focussed on key prospects in specific domains and was driven primarily by passion and hard work. There is a very simple fundamental that impacts any business — when organisations focus on passion driven scenarios, they reach a level of satisfaction, at some point, which narrows their scale in terms of expansion. It’s like entering your comfort zone which feels great, no doubt, but limits your potential on multiple planes. When you reach this point, one that SPAG did at the onset of 2020, there is a need to realign your goals. This is the exact discussion that I stepped into. It was time to expand the scale of SPAG’s growth and 2020 was the year we earmarked to take a step further.

Grabbing every last bite of the pie

SPAG has been, for a few years now, holding a large portion of the pie in healthcare communications. Now when you already have let’s say a 60% share of something, you have only 40% left; and with competition in the market, how do you grow? This was a tricky one!

Diversification was key to our approach

We focussed on navigating through the next decade and how as a group we wanted to be at the forefront of what we believe in. This meant having full faith in our capabilities, especially if we were looking to push our boundaries. We realigned ourselves to look at business prospects on a different pie altogether. We focussed on multiple sectors, geographies, communications without barriers, skilled hiring and training & upskilling across sectors. But this wasn’t easy…

We multiplied our vision 6x

The vision that our founders set out with back in 2014 to build SPAG was multiplied almost 6 times over to even kickstart our goal. They built one agency, and now together we were working with an expansion plan that was nothing short of building six agencies of that scale. And that’s how the business plan evolved. Aman and Shivani’s perspective with my new vision on the table led to one amazing concoction — but then the pandemic hit…

Pushing the needle, by leaps and bounds

The pandemic changed things dramatically. Business dynamics transformed because demand rose, budgets were slashed, talent retention was tough, and strategies needed a 180 degree realignment. On one hand, we had structured business plans intended to be rolled out gradually over the year and next and on the other we were pulled into a new work dynamic that required agile decision-making in order to survive.

We had two options: take a backseat and wait the pandemic out or get into the front seat, hit the accelerator and expedite our plans. We had to choose the latter.

So, what we intended to do at a later stage, we did NOW. The evolution came sooner than any of us had expected. We hopped onto a rollercoaster and took the ride while making strategic investments along the way and devising a full-blown structural change.

The cultural diversity, outlook and motivation our team brought on the table aligned this entire mission impossible to become one very possible and successful one. And there is so much we have learnt in the process. We expanded into different verticals and sectors while growing our niche.

SPAG is today what I call a Bhartiya MNC.

A multi-national, globally aligned integrated communications agency which has moved out of its one core domain to focus on the larger picture. We have over the last one year transformed SPAG into a new-age agency with modern systems — global measurement and valuation systems. This is what clients want today — a partner who can evaluate and assess their plans and process through a futuristic, geographical and departmental lens.

The pie is growing further, and the buck definitely doesn’t stop here — we’re only 1% done.


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