A creative can be a strategic leader: Dinesh Diar was appointed the CEO of Ad Outpost in 2014, having previously been its creative director. He has worked in all sectors of the media in the past 18 years.
What drew you to the media? I think it was more a case of drawing media to me. I was a member of many anti-apartheid movements in the 1980s and always found myself drawn to the media aspect of all our campaigns. I enjoyed coming up with creative copy for posters and writing articles for different publications. This is how I discovered the power of media and its ability to inform and influence.
Do you have any hidden talents? Yes, I have a few, but I hid them so well that I can’t find them anymore.
What is your best characteristic and biggest flaw? My best characteristic is my ability to imagine and visualise stuff. My biggest flaw is overthinking stuff sometimes.
If you weren’t the CEO of Ad Outpost, what would you be doing now? I would be making films.
What moment do you regard as career defining? When Ken Varejes convinced me to leave the SABC and join the Primedia Group.
What have you learnt the hard way? There is no short cut to great achievement.
What is the best and worst advice you’ve been given? Best advice comes from my wife: you have to back yourself first before you can expect anyone else to back you. Worst advice I got was to keep quiet and accept something that fundamentally went against my principles.
Whom do you admire the most? I admire my two daughters the most; they teach me humility every day.
What quote best describes how you see the world? “Life is what happens to you while you busy making other plans.” – John Lennon.
What is your favourite holiday spot and why? Any place in India. You experience art, architecture, dance, colour, amazing food and humble people.
What book do you wish you had written? Life of Pi by Yann Martel.
If you had a tattoo, what would it be of? The words of the song Imagine by John Lennon.
What are you addicted to? I am addicted to anything that demonstrates clever creative thinking.
What are you afraid of? I am most afraid of people who are one dimensional and refuse to look at other possibilities.
What do you regret most? Nothing.
What cheers you up the most? Seeing my kids happy!
Why did you move from being an executive producer for the SABC to the out of home (OOH) sector? I moved from television into the OOH space purely by coincidence; it was not a planned or strategic move. It was an easy move because it still is a visual medium and requires creative thinking.
What has been your biggest challenge since taking over as the CEO of Ad Outpost in June 2014? I suppose proving to many people that a creative can also be strategic, manage people, manage finances and grow a company. Breaking that stereotype has been an important step, and I am hoping it creates new opportunities for other creative people to step up to the plate!
Where do you see the digital OOH industry in South Africa heading? Digital in the OOH space is fast gaining traction. Increasingly marketing budgets are increasing for digital platforms. The challenge now remains clever content generation and engaging creative campaigns. This will play a huge role as to how the market and consumers respond to OOH digital.
What are your goals? As CEO I want to create an excellent working environment so that my team can deliver their best possible work and feel proud to work for Ad Outpost. I also want to know that every day I made a valuable contribution and made a difference in people’s lives. On a more personal level I want to create a legacy, which my kids can be proud of and use as a reference and compass as they navigate through life. N
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