AT THE HELM - Sandhya Devanathan, Vice-President, Meta India

Sandhya Devanathan has been promoted vice-president of Meta India. The new responsibility, which Ms Devanathan assumed on January 1, catapults her as the country head of the social media platform, formerly called Facebook India. 

The new Meta India chief takes charge amid a spate of exits of its top management, including former India head Ajit Mohan and ex-India chief of WhatsApp Abhijit Bose, among others. Ms Devanathan’s elevation to the top post of Meta India also coincides with the layoff of 11,000 of its employees worldwide and freezing of recruitments until March.

A chemical engineer from Andhra University, Ms Devanathan did her MBA from Delhi University in 2000. She had also undergone a course in leadership at University of Oxford in 2014. She began her career with Citi in 2000 and worked for the global financial conglomerate in various roles for over nine years in India, the Philippines and the US. She later joined Standard Chartered in 2009 and was associated with the UK-based banking and financial services company up to 2015, mostly stationed in Singapore.

Ms Devanathan joined Meta in January 2016 as group director of South-East Asia in charge of e-commerce, travel and financial services and was posted in Singapore. Seven months later, she became the tech giant’s managing director for Singapore and business head for Vietnam. Then in 2020, she was promoted as vice-president for gaming in the Asia-Pacific region, and now, she is in charge of Meta India since this January.

Meta, which also owns Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, credits Ms Devanathan for leading the company’s e-commerce initiatives in South-East Asia. She has also taken up many initiatives to develop women leaders in business. As the executive sponsor for Women@APAC at Meta as well as the global leader for Play Forward – a global Meta initiative to improve diversity representation in the gaming industry – she has helped in diversifying the workforce as well as ideas and concepts put across by Meta’s gaming segment.

Ms Devanathan has taken up the new role at a time when Facebook is facing regulatory challenges in India, with the Indian government tightening laws concerning giant tech companies. The company has also drawn a lot of flak in recent years for doing little to curb spread of fake news and hate speech in the country.

The new Meta India – with over 22 years of experience in banking, payments and technology segments – seems well suited to strengthen Meta’s relationships with brands, advertisers, creators and partners in the country and drive growth in revenue in key channels. She will be overlooking the company’s newly-launched products on Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp like reels, business messaging and JioMart on WhatsApp – Meta’s first end-to-end shopping destination in India.

Ms Devanathan has a proven track record of scaling businesses, building exceptional and inclusive teams, driving product innovation and building strong partnerships. With Ms Devanathan on board, Meta India is set to chart new territories and grow manifold.

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