At 36, how Lara Balsara Vajifdar’s bold strategies came to contribute a lion 40% share in the revenues of her father’s business

Being the daughter of Sam Balsara who set up Madison Communications in 1988, Lara Balsara Vajifdar always knew she had large shoes to fill. An apprenticeship that may well have began at the dinner-table, has now translated into tangible gains for the largely diversified communication group.

At 36, she is the rightful executive director of the now re-named firm, Madison World, which counts Asian Paints, Marico and Levi’s amongst its clients. This could largely be owed to father’s approach – for he ensured that being the boss’ daughter does not afford her any free-passes. In fact, it was quite the contrary. She kicked off what would be a very illustrious stint at Madison in 2004 as a management trainee – and was the subject of keener scrutiny than most. Balsara gave her a rating of 2 out of a maximum of 5 in her first appraisals, for he held her to a higher standard. She didn’t disappoint him for too long, coming back with a 4+ rating the next year, as she quickly learned the ropes of the business.

She went on to contribute significantly to the firm’s diversification into digital, sports, entertainment and even their entry into overseas markets, all of which comprise 40% of Madison World’s revenues today.  Over the past seven-eight years, since she has fully taken up a corporate role, Madison’s gross billing has increased from Rs.2,500 crore to around Rs.4,000 crore.

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