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Rishad Tobaccowala


Title:Director of interactive marketing, Leo Burnett USA, Chicago

Bio:Born in Bombay, India. B.A. in mathematics, University of Bombay, 1979; MBA, University of Chicago, 1982.

Work history:Media buyer, Leo Burnett USA, 1982-84; account supervisor, 1984-92; VP-account director of direct marketing, 1992-94; current post, 1994-.

As a child in Bombay, Rishad Tobaccowala grew up reading National Geographic, Time, Life and Superman comics. Now he probably reads them online.

After graduating from the University of Chicago, Mr. Tobaccowala searched for a career that would allow him to generate original ideas and to think strategically. He found Leo Burnett USA and has been there ever since.

"The interactive group deals with every part of the agency and looks at each one of the agency's clients to see how interactive media may or may not fit into the strategy," Mr. Tobaccowala said. "We remind ourselves that it's interactive marketing, which is holistic and involves more areas of a client and within an agency than anything I have worked with before."

The agency, under Mr. Tobaccowala's lead, does everything from recommending new-media opportunities to creating Web sites to participating in interactive TV trials.

"While it's important to understand technology and what it can do, that just gets you in the game," Mr. Tobaccowala said. "The key is understanding how people can build brands for clients using new media. You need to get past the techno-babble. We look at concepts, not code."

Mr. Tobaccowala has four computers between his home and office and spends five hours of his 60-hour work week surfing eWorld, CompuServe, Prodigy, America Online and the Internet.

Betcha didn't know:Mr. Tobaccowala bought one of the first Macintoshes produced in 1984 and was on CompuServe in 1985.

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