A love for India and business interests bring Frenchman Timothée Guillois to Kochi

Timothée Guillois considers India to be a great adventure. Son of Vincent Guillois, who started the marketing and communications company The Links Groupe in France 31 years ago, Timothée wanted to do his own thing and worked for Publicis Group for six years, two of which he spent in India. At the end of last year, the 33-year-old affectionately known as Tim decided to finally join the family business and help set up their newly formed subsidiary The Links India. The creative arm of The Links India has been formed with the acquisition of the Kochi-based marketing communications company formerly known as Saltmangotree.

Tim says the decision to acquire Saltmangotree and set up the The Links India head office in Kochi was taken to replicate in India the work system they have developed in France. “This is our first foray outside of France. We decided to invest specifically in Kochi because it allows a similar setup to what we have back home in Nantes in the West of France. The bigger cities are tough to live and work in but Kochi is smaller and has a better quality of life, and that is what we were looking for,” he says.

Fishing and more

Tim’s affection for India began on a trip his family took 11 years ago, when they visited Thiruvananthapuram and Kochi as well. “We absolutely loved the country and this city. My father and I love fishing and enjoy fishing in the West of France, and Kochi is a great place for people like us. So last year when I quit my job and decided to join the family business, I found out that the company was in talks with Saltmangotree and came down to Kochi. I fell in love with the city and the spirit of the team and thought it would be great to join this great adventure,” he says before adding that the acquisition has kept him too busy to indulge in fishing. “I do love Cherai beach, and we spent some time at a nice French guesthouse there when we were preparing for our partnership. Hopefully I will get to do some fishing in those localities soon!”

Providing good value to the brands they work with is one of the things closest to his heart, but employee satisfaction ranks right up there with it.

“We are not a traditional advertising agency, and the model we have created in France is something we want to replicate here. In the end, the human being is at the centre of what we do and that involves brain juice. So if you have the best people in the world who are happy and motivated about what they do then the juice will have a good flavour. I am very lucky to be able to enjoy my life and walk along Marine Drive every day to get to our new office, and all the people here share the same mindset.”

The Links India currently consists of the main office in Kochi and a sales office in Delhi, with Tim serving as CEO. He plans to acquire more companies depending on their needs. Longer term plans include expanding to Singapore and Dubai, though Kochi will remain their base of operations in India.

Land of opportunity

Two years of work experience in India have prepared Tim for the challenges that lie ahead, but also taught him a lesson or two. “India and France are so far apart it is almost like another planet. While in France it is like you live in a box and cannot move from one box to another, here everything is open. So every day you see something unexpected, experience something fantastic and even suffer sometimes. There are huge opportunities here if you have the right mindset, and Indians are the first people to grab onto these opportunities.”