Having spent nine enriching years with Diageo India, Abanti Sankaranarayanan – Chief Strategy and Corporate Affairs Officer, Diageo India, has recently rocked the marquee by being inducted as a member of the Keeper of the Quaich. In a chat with Shalini Kumar, the industry veteran talks about her recent coveted distinction, and also on the opportunities and challenge for the growth of Scotch whisky industry in India. She also airs her candid views on prohibition.
When she was in her late twenties, Abanti Sankaranarayanan had sipped her first Scotch whisky. At that point in time she did not have any inkling that some years later she would be asked to join the league of extraordinary people as Keeper of the Quaich. And she has every reason to feel on top of the world. Having been conferred with this honour, she is confident that this distinction will only add further impetus and momentum for the Scotch whisky category in India. “Keeper of the Quaich is a global recognition that doesn’t come easy, so I feel very privileged and humbled. I see my induction into Keepers of the Quaich as recognition of India’s place in the Scotch whisky industry, and for Diageo India’s contribution to it,” says Abanti.
A performer to the core, Abanti is recognised as a brilliant task master and a focused professional. In Diageo, she has had diverse leadership roles that, according to her, helped her make meaningful contributions to Scotch whiskies in India. She points out that her roles in this industry over the last nine years (with Diageo) have been wide-ranging –spanning from being Marketing & Innovations Director to being its Managing Director, to heading Strategy & Corporate Relations for Diageo India (the integrated operations of United Spirits Ltd. (USL) & Diageo India Pvt. Ltd.), India’s largest spirits company.
“From marketing our fantastic Scotch portfolio to my present role where through shaping positive policy, enhancing industry reputation and leading business strategy, I am able to contribute to create conditions for the Scotch industry to continue to grow and thrive in India, it has been an enriching journey with Diageo for me,” observes Abanti.
She goes on to say that Diageo India as the world’s leading Scotch company has been well placed to contribute to the Scotch industry in this country across all roles and in diverse ways.