This article was first published on Exchange4Media.

“As the agency  enters its fourth year in India  it will behave exactly like a precocious 4-year-old does -challenge itself more, expand into areas it has not ventured into until now, and do things that normal 4-year-olds would not do,” says Jyoti Bansal, managing director, PHD India clearly setting the tone for the conversation.

September 2013 saw the launch of PHD in India, whilst the agency built its Mumbai office around a single large Digital client – Unilever. Together, the client and agency created history by winning 6 Cannes Lions in three years – four in the debut year and one each in the following years. “We built expertise and strengths in future facing areas – mobile, real-time marketing, programmatic, digital measurement, roles of the future (creative technologists, data scientists), reinforcing our thought leadership and digital native credentials,” shares Jyoti.

Strengthening the India offering

In Delhi, the agency skewed its focus on making it the office in the region for globally aligned full-service clients including HP; SC Johnson, SAP, HTC among others. Additionally, for Perfetti, which is its Digital-only client, the agency has been producing category-leading work. The agency’s Bangalore office will come into its own in the coming year, building on clients like Fossil and Hindsiam.

Being talent ready for a future ready agency

Interestingly, talent acquisition for the agency is done in line with the unique requirements and structure of each business/client. For its newest client VWG (Volkswagen Group), the agency is creating a bespoke structure building teams of members with skills in more than one function (mainline, digital, experiential, content), supported with deep expertise specialists surrounding this core.

PHD India has consciously taken a very ‘un-media-agency’ approach to talent building. The senior team is a diverse mix of people with complementary skills sets – coming from media, creative agency, brand marketing, digital publishers, deep expertise speciality companies (programmatic, performance marketing, content, consultancy).

In line with being launched and positioned as a future ready agency PHD India team has an average age of 25 years; in fact 50 percent of PHD India’s work force is under the age of 30, lending energy to the offices, and adding a complex dimension to the talent management policies to harness the abundant energies of a young and raring  workforce.

“Fridays@PHD garners almost 100% attendance- to hear colleagues & industry experts; to interact on hackathons; participate in interactive theatre style workshops to improve presentation and story-telling skills,” reveals Shavon Barua, managing partner, PHD India.

“The work policies, training programs, appraisal systems, challenge status quo in everything. So there is an annual appraisal system, but it is activated four times a year, to cope with our rapid growth and constant influx of new talent into the company. Training is a mix of the formal and the casual – the casual working equally well and sometimes better, with the millennials,” shares  Jyoti, when we quiz her on how does the agency retain its employees given the plethora of opportunities outside including beckoning start-ups.

At a time when all agencies have global tools, PHD India leverages ‘real time connections of the entire network’ with its global proprietary operating system SOURCE, which propels its network of 3000+ planners tap into the “PHD mind” by brainstorming, offering ideas and solutions for briefs from all over the world.

A live collaboration engine to drive media creativity and planning rigour, it connects the entire PHD network via the principles of gamification.

“SOURCE is designed to bring more minds together to work on a single brief, which injects fresh thinking and expertise to the solution. The cross-market connectivity also brings speed to import of ideas for global brands. Team PHD India gives to and takes from SOURCE on a daily basis, getting the opportunity to think on real-life business problems of clients across markets,” adds Shavon.

While the agency in India accelerated its momentum, moving from a RECMA qualitative score of 3 in Oct 2015 to 6 in March 2016 to 9 in June 2016, with its challenging spirit, 2017 sure looks an interesting year for this precocious agency.