Chirag Patnaik was born in Odisha to professional parents and his early life as an Army brat meant frequent transfers and numerous schools. Life was mostly spent in small cantonment towns across India.
From a small Hamlet in Northern Kashmir to the hills of Coonoor, from the deserts of Rajasthan to the lush valleys of Assam, he has lived and traveled across India. This has exposed him to India’s diverse cultures, landscapes, and people.
Life in a cantonment has its fair share of sports and his favourite sports included cricket, football, badminton, swimming and squash. Army life also meant frequent school changes. With a total of 9 schools and 3 colleges, his formal education has been quite diverse, both in terms of the towns he studied in and the type of education he received. College was again across the country, with the first year in Assam and then another journey across to finish the second and third from Nowrosjee Wadia College, Pune. He graduated in Physics with honours after which he moved to Delhi to pursue a Postgraduate Diploma in Marketing from The Times School of Marketing. The Times School of Marketing was an in-house training school of The Times of India Group. The graduates of which went on to join the Times Group.
His career has spanned sales, marketing and product management. The bulk and latter part of his career was focused on Product management. Innovation has been a continuous theme across his career, where he brought path breaking technology and ideas into the assignments entrusted to him.
He started with the Times of India Group where he joined as a sales executive and then quickly moved into the marketing function where he was the brand manager for the Times of India. As brand manager, he launched the Newspaper in Education edition of The Times of India which is currently known as the Student edition. This edition, after launch, quickly grew to account for 10% of the Times of India circulation nationally. In a country where education is still considered a privilege, this was Chirag’s contribution to society and the nation.
After being a brand manager, Chirag entered the field of Corporate Strategy, where he worked with both the promoters of the Times Group, Samir and Vineet Jain. He was involved in forward-looking planning for the Times Group which included capital investments like the purchase of printing presses, archival systems, tracking systems, MIS and more tactical affairs like the launch of a new newspaper in a highly competitive environment.
Chirag Patnaik changed things and made a great impact with another notable project at the Times, which was the launch of what was termed as Times Private Treaties. It was the Times Group’s Private Equity where ad space to emerging and established firms was bartered for equity stakes. This served emerging companies precious working capital while allowing them to take their product to market using the Times Group vehicles. Today, Times Private Treaties accounts for a significant proportion of sales for the Times Group while also creating long term wealth for the growth. Chirag Patnaik indeed proved to be a great asset for the Times Group during his tenure with them.
With a great fascination for the internet, he got transferred to the Internet subsidiary of the Times Group, The Times Internet Limited, known by its flagship brand Indiatimes.com. This was his transition to digital product management. He yet again proved himself as he led significant changes across the board. One of the first things was the implementation of a modern analytics system, the transition from pages made in MS word to a modern scripting language, the use of Ajax for more dynamic content.
His other forward-looking projects at Indiatimes included the launch of mobile versions of Times of India and the Economic Times in 2007. This was at a point when mobile internet was at its infancy in India.
Later on, Chirag joined the India Today Group. They gained an experienced, hard-working Chirag Patnaik, who launched the entire fleet of offline brands on the Internet. This included IndiaToday.com, BusinessToday.com, AajTak.com, Cosmopolitan India, Women’s Health amongst dozens of others. Other notable initiatives were the launch of the India Today Group offerings as mobile apps. First in the Nokia ecosystem and then on to other platforms. This was in 2009, possibly, the first Indian media brand to launch apps. Additional responsibilities included syndication, where the entire India Today photo archive dating back 4 decades was syndicated on a global platform.
Chirag then joined IndiaMART where he was heading marketing and the revenue grew from approximately Rs 50 Crore to Rs 150 crore in a span of just three years. Chirag proved to be an asset to every organisation he went to and made a huge impact, turning their fortunes around.
His next stint was at Samsung where he was responsible for product bundling with Samsung devices and also conceptualizing new software products for Samsung India.
He also consulted with Outlook India. Where he revamped the digital offerings. A notable launch was India’s first micro-payments system for content. The Travel magazine portal deployed cutting edge suggestion systems that employed click-tracking and recommender systems.
There are unlimited takeaways from Chirag’s career journey. For those who know Chirag, his fitness journey has been one worth learning from too. From battling hypertension to losing a massive 50 kilos, he has been a real go-getter. He adopted healthy eating habits and altered his lifestyle to best suit his body. The results have been phenomenal.
From all the experience that Chirag has gained in his life personally and professionally, he has been a mentor, a friend and a guide to his colleagues and all those who approach him for guidance or help. He has helped people realise their true potential and has always been there for those who needed him.
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