R.C. Venkateish, the reticent 49-year-old managing director of ESPN Software India, shares credit for being a key player in the team that has successfully staged a major coup in international cricket.
By bagging the 10-year telecast and ground sponsorship rights for the Champions League Twenty20 for $975 million (Rs 4,837 crore) in the face of stiff competition from Sony Entertainment Television India-Dubai Investment Council consortium and Abu Dhabi Sports Club, he not only has proved himself a gritty negotiator but is now also aiming to do better than what Indian Premier League (IPL) managed to garner for Sony in terms of advertising revenues. But Venkateish praises the “highly motivated and passionate team of self-starting, gogetters” at ESPN Star Sports (ESS) India for its latest feat.
Name: R.C. Venkateish
Company: ESPN Software India
His management style is very simple: he shares his vision with the team and empowers people to take decisions and achieve results. “We have an environment where people are encouraged to take ownership and drive their businesses and also encouraged to constantly push the envelope. We do not promote hierarchies, but rather emphasise teamwork much like in sports,” he says. People who know him swear by his “approachability” and say he’s a keen listener with an analytical approach to business—traits that he may have acquired at Nestle, Gillette and Kelloggs, where he worked for 19 years before entering media as MD of ESS in 2003. “
He is able to foresee trends and take action. In fact, the way the channel has managed to counter competition from disparate quarters is admirable,” says a very senior media observer. The parent, ESS, a 50:50 joint venture between The Walt Disney Company and News Corporation’s STAR, has been in the thick of action and managed to corner rights for almost all the major international sporting events, including FIFA World Cup 2010, among others. Venkateish played his part by successfully establishing ESS’s third channel, Star Cricket, which was launched last year to meet the growing demand and competition in the space. He may be a keen golf enthusiast, but it’s cricket that’s likely to test his mettle going forward, as one of the game’s biggest attractions, IPL, has set a high benchmark.