You just have to broach the subject of the Mumbai suburban rail network to see the glint in Lara Balsara Vajifdar’s eyes. For five years, she religiously took the train at 7:05 AM from western Mumbai’s Jogeshwari to get to St Xavier’s College, a forty-minute ride. “We travelled as a group and that was a lot of fun,” she reminisces fondly. Sitting in her expansive living room, Vajifdar points to a building a couple of metres away. “That’s the house where I grew up. This is a Parsi colony and we all know each other quite well,” she says. Being the daughter of Sam Balsara, who set up Madison Communications in 1988, she had large shoes to fill and Vajifdar was acutely aware of that. At 36, she is the executive director of the now re-named firm, Madison World, which boasts of a client roster including the likes of Asian Paints, Marico and Levi’s. She has been involved in the diversification of the firm into newer areas such as digital, sports, entertainment and entry into overseas markets.
The mad ad world
The initial tryst with Madison was not long after college in 2003. After acquiring a degree in economics, Vajifdar was still undecided about her next move. She briefly enrolled for a masters degree at Mumbai University, but later decided to enroll for a masters abroad. She enrolled at Bristol University for a masters program in marketing.
Two months before flying out to the UK, she spent a fortnight at Madison as an intern. “I was exposed to media, creative and PR as part of my assignment. These departments were in different parts of the city and