EXCLUSIVE | Abraham Thomas – CEO Reliance Broadcast: A year of learning and yearning [Year-Ender 2020]


Abraham Thomas, CEO at Reliance Broadcast Network Limited, has over two decades of experience in building and strengthening various media platforms across TV, Radio, Digital, Print in India, China and South Asia, where his extensive knowledge and expertise across diverse businesses has seen him champion many robust organizations, manage high-performance teams and drive business transformations. He has also been part of the core committee of AROI, the Association of Radio Operators of India, which includes several leading leaders across FM Radio, working to evangelize the medium.

In this exclusive piece, Thomas shares how, despite all its challenges, 2020 has been a year filled with learning and opportunities. He also speaks of how the digital disruption in 2020 led to widespread adoption of audio content. Sharing that among other things, 2020 thought him the importance of keeping an open mind and adapting, he adds that it is important to embrace and acknowledge the learnings of the big changes and to internalize them in our working going ahead.

Read on.

Akin to a rollercoaster, we did not know the turns that 2020 would take. While a lot has been said and done about the negative impacts of the year, one cannot but stop and see the light at the end of the tunnel. It was in 2020 that we took on challenges, changes and responsibilities we never thought we could undertake. Despite the social distancing, the year brought us closer to our families, friends and colleagues where instead of small talks, we asked about each other’s well-being, expressed concern over someone’s ill-health and stood in solidarity during the tough times.

2020 for me has been a year of learnings, an opportunity to reframe and start from a new base. While many dwelled on what could have been and missed the opportunities, others dwelled on getting out of it and making the most of what the year had to offer. I am glad that I made it very productive. It has been a year of learnings for some and yearning for others. Many got ahead because they learned.

2020 has been a year of learnings for some and
yearning for others. Many got ahead because
they learned:
Abraham Thomas

I personally believe that lockdown and several other irrevocable changes brought in by the pandemic made me and many others take a microscopic look at the world around us. For instance, a lot of aatma nirbhar businesses started and thrived during the pandemic; young children and adults took up social responsibilities, and though it underwent a dip, the Indian market scenario, slowly grew to be so much more self-reliant as well as adaptable to change that it now has the praise of the international allies.

My colleagues and I too adopted the ‘then considered luxury, but now a necessity’ work from home policy, and despite many video calls and zoom meetings, realised that innovation can stem from anywhere and anyone. I’d like to take the example of the industry I am a part of — the audio entertainment industry.

The digital disruption, especially during the lockdown, led  to widespread adoption of audio content in the form of music, podcasts and audiobooks. During the pandemic, the radio industry had many takers who, often, tired of the screens, turned their radios and audio devices up as they decided to unwind. Being an ardent audiophile myself for many years, I have always believed in the power of music and audio content which are incredibly capable of positive impacts on people in the form of entertainment, relaxation and also education. I myself am a big fan of Pink Floyd, Queen, Bob Dylan, Krishna Das and other similar artists, and often turn to their musical perfectionism to sit back with after a busy day.

Though we are no more under lockdown (save for a few nations and states), the love for audio content has already crept in and there are people around the world who are listening to audiobooks during their commutes, or are working out in gyms listening to their favourite podcasts.

This is a positive change and I am glad to observe that it is now more and more accessible to the vernacular audiences as well who are finding comfort in content from their regional languages. From listening to Mrityudand in Marathi, to enjoying the classics of Thirukkural by famous Tamil poet Thiruvallur, there is no dearth of listening material in this world.

While professionally one has been looking at ways to broaden the horizon, personally, 2020 has also
taught us that nothing is impermeable. Being rigid
in ones ways of functioning will not help us in
the long run: Abraham Thomas

While professionally one has been looking at ways to broaden the horizon, personally, 2020 has also taught us that nothing is impermeable. Being rigid in ones ways of functioning will not help us in the long run.

It is important to keep an open mind and adapt to the increasingly changing environment we are living in. It is now more than ever that we have the flexibility to try new things.

As we all have been trying to find the balance and composure after a turbulent year, we continue to seek what brings solace to us. During such times, I truly go by the words of the famous author, Alexander Chalmers, who once said, “The three grand essentials of happiness are: Something to do, someone to love, and something to hope for.”

I believe as long as you are practicing this philosophy in your personal and professional life, you will be far more content and at peace.

In many ways, we have lived several years in this past one year as the growth and evolution has been phenomenal — something which we wouldn’t have been able to achieve under normal circumstances. The change is here, and instead of looking at the negative scale, let us try encapsulating what 2020 taught us and implement those learning in 2021 and the future.

Your thoughts, please