Cruising The Right Channels

Updated: Oct 20 2002, 05:30am hrs
There is something mercurial about her. The moment you think youve located her pulse, it has already sprinted to another stopover difficult to locate. But then thats not unusual for a professional on the move, who could be your friendly next door neighbour one day and an inaccessible media personality staring at you from a glossy newsmagazine the next day. Thats Laxmi Hariharan, marketing director (Asia) of Hallmark Channel, for you.

Ms Hariharan could well be a symbol of the evolution of media in India since the 1990s. She has straddled several worlds during her short career, living each moment to the fullest. Beginning her career in Mumbai with a youth magazine, JAM, which is still cocooned in its youthful circle, she outgrew it to join The Times Of India group as a brand manager. Those were exciting times for media. TV was happening in India, she recollects. How could she not be a part of it She just sashayed into the start-up team at MTV, never to look back again. It was 1996.

A Masters in management studies with specialisation in marketing helped.

As MTV became a domestic name in India, it was time for Ms Hariharan to go international. She moved to Singapore with the music channel. It was not easy, she says nostalgically. Beginning life all over again, she had to strike fresh relationships, make new friends and achieve tough targets.

The two-year stint in Singapore meant not only retaining the existing viewership, but also luring newer viewers. She did it appreciably well. Too well to stay on there.

Ms Hariharan moved next to join the start-up team at Hallmark Channel. The location was Hong Kong. The cycle began all over again. Newer problems and tougher challenges, she says. But its easier for her to take up a new job than stick to the previous one. She has her own reasons. Like most people, she is not afraid of failures. Instead, she is afraid of letting new opportunities slip by. At the end of the day, I do not want to speculate on ifs and buts, she explains.

Her risk taking is paying off. As a marketing director with Hallmark at 31, she oversees communications, research, events and promotion, brand building and brand management, travelling 20 days a month. A typical day begins at five in the morning with a call to the headquarters in the United States.

More importantly for her, Ms Hariharan contributes to programming and production. Essentially a creative person, she also writes, contributing to various publications and the new media. Fiction is her favourite. Some day, she hopes, she will be in a position to pursue her creativity full time. But then, why did she venture into management and marketing in the first place Isnt that what most of us do for a living!

Ms Hariharans other passions include music and dance. She is partial towards salsa, though. And she loves making new friends, a habit that has helped her shift base so many times and root afresh with ease. But, of course, her first love remains aiming for higher and higher peaks.