Mike Khanna, the chairman of J Walter Thompson in India, on Monday said that the race for his successor at the agency was still wide open and denied speculation that Colvyn Harris will be named as the new chairman when his term ends.
"No decision has been taken yet. We have a big pool of talent to choose from. Succession planning at JWT is not very simple. It is a long process in which both our Asia and the global offices are involved," Khanna said.
Colvyn Harris, currently the CEO of JWT's sister agency Contract Advertising, too said he was unaware of any such decision.
According to sources in JWT, Khanna will visit New Delhi on Tuesday to hold meetings with Jagdeep Bakshi and Kamal Oberoi, president, JWT India. Bakshi, Oberoi and Harris are contemporaries at JWT.
If Harris is indeed chosen for the top job at the country's largest advertising agency, he will be the second senior executive from Contract to switch over to JWT in two years.
In 2003, Syeda Imam who was the executive vice president and executive creative director at Contract was named the national creative director of JWT.
"There is certainly no trend of top-level movement from Contract to JWT. Imam's was the only major shift in recent times. Even if there is any movement, it would be fairly normal as the two are sister agencies," Khanna said.
Khanna also denied that he was unwilling to give up control of JWT India. "It is completely untrue. It was a JWT board decision that directed me to continue," he said.
The 65-year old Khanna has been the CEO of the agency for nearly two decades and received a two-year extension as the chairman in 2002.