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Four years ago, Marc de Swaan Arons and Frank van den Driest who have been consultants for more than a decade and a half, felt that the traditional growth formulas were not working for most companies. So, they approached WPP, which went on to acquire their baby - Institute for Real Growth. With WPP on board, they created a platform that is not for profit, one that is independent, where they could take their study to CMOs who can be inspired by their peers, learn from the best practices and be provided with thought leadership. In a way it is a balancing act, which leads to growth in the eco-system.

The IRG focusses largely on ‘humanized growth,’ which is not very concentrated on boosting the bottom line or the profits for the next quarter but rather is an approach to growth that’s long-term and creating value for all the people involved. In an exceedingly competitive marketing environment, IRG maps out an inclusive and empathetic vision. Deep diving into that Frank van den Driest, Founder, IRG says, “Chief Finance Officers are the ones that drive marketers to deliver results in the very next quarter and the interesting thing is that the ones we have interacted with through our programme are also completely signed onto this vision of more humanized growth. We strongly believe that the CMOs or the marketing function should collaborate more closely with the finance community because together they can convince investors and shareholders that in reality we’re not running a short-term sprint, we’re running a long-term marathon.”
But as experts in the world of consultancy do they feel that things have changed massively for the industry in the past decade or so, especially with the onslaught of Covid-19? How are they helping leaders adapt to this change effectively? Marc explains, “There’s an Indian saying that businesses do good by doing good. We actually believe that the over-focus on short term profits is a relatively recent thing, while companies have been around for hundreds of years. These firms typically were started by leaders that wanted to make a difference to the community that they served, and if you did that well, you made money. You definitely didn’t create a company to make money. In the last 15-20 years society has been pushing back on companies to ask, why are you hurting the earth, and why you aren’t distributing the value equitably, and Covid accelerated that. In fact, during the pandemic the companies that did well, didn’t only think about profit, they thought about the larger good of their customers and employees. Those firms have seen better retention of employees too, which would have saved the company a lot of money on hiring and training new workforce, etc.”
Frank adds, “What we have learned through our study is that you’re not in a B2B or B2C, what you really are in is human-to-human. It’s really about understanding people. The idea is to create a movement of people who understand that and want to build a better community in which we live.”

When McDonalds came to India, the world got the first McDonalds Aloo tiki vegetarian burger. I ask them how is IRG Indianizing these global case studies that they have collected to make sure, it makes sense to the Indian market and Indian leaders? Marc responds, “The interpretation of the local leaders is what makes it unique to this market. Even in the session we had with the CMOs in India during this visit we shared global findings and made it truly local with the help of the local leaders who were talking about Indian investment climate, stock market and human situation here.”
Frank concludes, “India is a very different market and hopefully what we can leave behind in India is a systemic solution, whereby people have a platform where they can find each other, collaborate and learn from each other and jointly drive more humanized growth with WPP, Google, Salesforce, Spencer, and all the other great companies that India has.”

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