What makes an ideal turn around CEO
What makes an ideal turn around CEO

An investment banker turned business leader with two successful exits, Foodpanda and Paylo, behind him-Mr Rohit Chaddha , CEO Digital publishing at Zee group talks to us about his journey and how to be an ideal Turn around CEO.

1. What ignites the entrepreneurial spirit in you?

Just like a Panda, I’m a lazy person which means I’m always on the lookout of saving human effort wherever possible. Hence I tend to challenge status quo in whatever I do and figure out the best and most optimal way to do something both in terms of effort and cost.

This knack of always trying to find the best possible solution to a problem inspires me to build something new – whether it’s building a new company like foodpanda or PayLo,or building businesses like ZEE5, ZeeNews.com, India.com etc for an existing company like ZEE.

2. How has the digital space transformed in recent years?

Any digital business falls in either or both of two main categories – content and commerce. The first decade of internet in India (2000-2010) was all about content while second decade (2010-2020) saw the growth of commerce. The next decade will be about content again but this time the focus will be on the 3Vs – Video, Vernacular and Voice.

The backbone of commerce is payments. Demonetisation was a life-changing event of our times. That and various new initiatives by the government like UPI etc meant that Indians, who were historically vary of using their cards for online transactions, have now become more comfortable with digital payments.

And now, within a span of only 4 years, the pandemic has become the second life changing event of our times. What the pandemic has done is that it has propelled us four-five years in the future. Staying at home and having become conscious of social distancing has further fuelled the growth of digital, first in content consumption and then in e-commerce.

3. How has the covid situation impacted Zee Digital. Has there been a growth pattern?

Zee Digital has seen a phenomenal growth during the lockdown and covid. In Mar’20, we crossed 150 million unique monthly visitors mark moving to 4th position in Comscore among digital media groups. Further in May 2020 we crossed 185 million unique monthly visitors and moved to 3rd position before finally moving to 2nd position in June 2020 in the ComScore rankings among all digital media groups in India.

Furthermore, June’20 onwards, we also feature in the top 10 digital companies in India as per ComScore Ranking


4. The industry has blurred lines when we talk about Managing Directors and CEO’s. How would you define the role CEO plays for an organisation and how to be a turn around CEO? 


Turnarounds are inspiring. The ability to rebound after a poor-performing year or decade shows the power of resilience and the determination to find success even when it seems unreachable. Today Zee Digital is at a lifetime high both in terms of users and revenue since the business was set up in 2011. Profitability, Clarity, Awareness, Teamwork and Execution are 5 things I focused on to turnaround the business.

A turnaround CEO has a razor sharp focus on profitability. Numbers don’t lie – its extremely important for a CEO leading a turnaround to focus on numbers. He knows that every penny counts and makes that known to his team as well thus ensuring that his team also understand the value of each penny spent and every user acquired.

Clarity in what you do and where you want to be is of utmost importance. As a leader, not only do you need to be clear on what you are trying to accomplish, each and every member of your team needs to have the same clarity – only then shall your team’s efforts be aligned to your vision.

Awareness of your and your teams’ strengths and weaknesses helps the leader to maximise returns on human capital. Further, building awareness of the market and your competition’s weaknesses and strengths will help focus on any gaps that one may want to focus on.  A lot of times, leaders tend to follow their vision without taking into account any limitations that may exist with in the market or in their team/organisation which can lead to failures.

As someone rightly said - Teamwork makes the dream work! A leader knows that it takes a team to turn a business around.An important part of the CEO’s job is to communicate his vision for the company and instill confidence in the team that together they can achieve that vision. Having people with the right attitude in the team can take the energy of the team to a whole new level and motivate everyone to do their best.


Ideas are easy, execution is the key! Often we find people scared of taking decisions in difficult times. A CEO needs to encourage and inspire the team to take decisions and act on them without fear. When your team knows what to do and how to do it, it’s important for the CEO to empower them to execute.

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