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Rishad Tobaccowala

Best-Selling Author & Strategic Advisor

Rishad Tobaccowala is an author, speaker, teacher, and advisor with four decades of experience specializing in helping people, organizations and teams re-invent themselves to remain relevant in changing times. He specializes in unleashing talent and turbo-charging productivity by delivering perspectives, points of view, provocations and action plans but no PowerPoints!

Rishad’s best-selling book “Restoring the Soul of Business: Staying Human in the Age of Data” was published globally by HarperCollins and focusses on helping people think, feel, and see differently about how to grow their companies, their teams and themselves in transformative times. The Economist Magazine called it perhaps the best recent book on stakeholder capitalism and Strategy Magazine named it among the five best business books and the marketing book of the year. Rishad’s weekly thought-letter, “The Future Does Not Fit in the Containers of the Past” is read by over 30,000 leaders every week across industries and around the world. Rishad is currently working on his next book to be published globally by HarperCollins in 2024 tentatively titled “Re-Thinking Work” which will help leaders and companies adapt to the coming new world of work which is far more than the challenges of remote but will include demographic changes, AI and much more. Rishad is also the host of “What Next?” a podcast where he speaks with a range of leaders across business, technology, academia, and the arts on how to make sense of the cultural, social, and business changes transforming us all.

Rishad speaks on change, future trends and transforming work forces to a range of industries from platforms (Google, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, LinkedIn, Snap, Tik-Tok), to technology (Akamai, Juniper Networks, Intuit) media ( NY Times, Conde Nast, Univision, Paramount, NBCU), to blue chip firms ( Walmart, Procter and Gamble, H&R Block, Bayer, Pepsi, Colgate-Palmolive) to Financial Firms ( Zurich Financial, Bank of America, Citibank) to Industry Associations (Blue Cross Blue Shield, Illinois Department of Tourism, US Olympics, Radio Advertising Bureau, Outdoor Advertising Association). 

Rishad’s advisory clients include global firms such as Publicis Groupe and many executives at Fortune 500 and FTSE 100 companies, private equity organizations such as Growth Catalyst Partners, Venture Capital firms such as Abundant Ventures and Greycroft, and technology platforms including Firework, Quilt, Shift Paradigm, Journey, Qualsights and Dumbstruck.

Rishad spent nearly four decades at Publicis Groupe a 100,000-employee firm comprising companies like Epsilon, Sapient, Digitas, Leo Burnett, Saatchi and Saatchi, Starcom and Zenith dedicated to delivering marketing and business transformation. Before Rishad stopped being a full-time employee with Publicis Groupe (where he remains active as a Senior Advisor), he was Publicis Groupe’s Global Chief Strategist and Growth Officer and served on its Management Committee. 

Rishad has also been the Chairman of Digitas and Razorfish, two of the largest marketing transformation agencies in the world with over 11000 employees.

Over his 40-year career Tobaccowala has worked across almost every area of marketing and strategy including brand advertising, media, database, direct and interactive marketing. As a pioneer in digital marketing, Tobaccowala helped create one of the first interactive groups and digital agencies 25 years ago and has helped launch a series of initiatives over the years from groups focused on gaming, social, mobile and search engine marketing. Starcom IP, Play, Giant Step, SMG Search and Denuo are some of the brands Tobaccowala helped incubate.

Tobaccowala was named by BusinessWeek as one of the top business leaders for his pioneering innovation and TIME magazine dubbed him one of five “Marketing Innovators. He is the Ad Age Interactive Hall of Fame and has received a lifetime achievement silver medal award from the Chicago Ad Federation, an Inspire Award for motivating and building talent from the Advertising Education Foundation and the Association of National Advertisers and was named an Advertising Legend by the Advertising Club of New York.

Rishad is also is chairman of The Tobaccowala Foundation, which helps over 10,000 people gain better access to health and education in India.

Tobaccowala holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of Bombay and an MBA from the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago with which he remains closely involved.