Marketing leader Bharat Avalani was honoured recently at the Asian Federation of Advertising Associations (AFAA) 30th AdAsia Congress in Bali with a Special Award for teaching and spreading the good influence of advertising and marketing across the region.
A globe-trotting speaker and high-powered networker in high places, Bharat who worked as a senior marketer with Unilever for 24 years in Malaysia and around the world, has held many positions with industry bodies like the Malaysian Advertisers Association (MAA), Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC), International Advertising Association (IAA) and also as Chief Knowledge Officer for AFAA.
He is noted for running AFAA’s Fast Track programme, bringing hope and wisdom to young marketing and advertising professionals from 10 countries.
At the recent AdAsia Congress in Bali he met up with Kofi Annan, the 7th Secretary-General of the United Nations and co-recipient of the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize.
“Last year I was in Ghana on work and visited the missionary boarding school at the Cape Coast where Kofi studied. Cape Coast is a thriving fishing port in south Ghana and I was keen on seeing the school that made a boy into a Secretary General of UN and a Nobel Peace Prize winner,” shared Bharat, “It was a Saturday morning and I saw boys doing their own laundry, cleaning their dormitories and the surroundings. The mental note I made was recognizing the dignity of labour early in life, take responsibility to clean your own mess and that of others.”
In Bali, Bharat presented Mr Annan a collage of these childhood memories in person and asked him a question he was passionate about: Will a Business Leader ever win a Nobel Prize?
Mr Annan responded, “Leadership is about understanding a problem and asking yourself what you can do to help. Leadership is service. A good leader is a good follower.”
Speaking glowingly of his hero, Bharat adds, “He later put his hand on my shoulder and told me we have another thing in common apart from the shared memory of his school and that was his dad worked for Unilever Ghana.”