Building an Early Foundation:
When I started out as a fresher in the world of marketing, it wasn’t the easiest task to find my feet in the corporate world. I was trying to learn the ropes, understand how to apply theory to practice and get more involved with the nuances of the companies I worked for. There were times that I felt lost and confused, and wished that I had someone who could guide me and be the person I could depend on for information as well as direction.
When I learned about my alma mater Warwick Business School’s Award Winning Global Mentoring Programme and how it was a way of helping students or fresh graduates find their way to achieve their personal or professional goals or any seasoned professional seeking that direction and intervention, I was convinced that it was exactly the kind of platform I was looking for when I started out. I thought it was best that someone could get this opportunity in a very structured way to make their journey more productive and meaningful. I am now a Mentor and a Member of the Steering Committee on the programme and our aim is to constantly make sure that Mentor-Mentee’s benefit from this. I can say this today, after close to 15 years of being a Marketer, that it’s important to have the right intervention at the right time to hone your skills, find direction, build trust and relationships as well as to make every opportunity count. It helps you stay ahead of the curve and gain perspective like never before. You have to constantly challenge yourself to be a ‘new and improved 2.0 version’.
Beyond the Barricades:
It wasn’t easy at all. I remember when I was 14, and things at home went south, my grandparents were always around to give me tremendous hope and encouragement to achieve my dreams. They were my pillars of strength, someone to fall back on, on the ‘not so easy’ days. The love and joy we shared and the wisdom and resilience that they taught us helped me through the twists and turns in my later life.
At 14, I chose to take on the responsibility of no longer being just ‘Didu’ to my siblings, and while most of my peers and batch mates were exploring their mid-teen years and developing a social life, I was determined to ensure that my house remained a home to the best possible extent. Balancing assignments and chores at home, alongside nurturing and supporting the little ones, fiercely protecting them from whisperers and ‘labels’ was a challenging task but I was determined to take everything head on and make no excuses for the life I was granted.
This is also the time when I suddenly had to grow up beyond my years. I became more cautious; being mindful to see more than what was visible, trying to understand wider perspectives before making any conclusions. I paid greater attention to detail, being more organised and structured, leading from the front and choosing to be a leader than a follower. At the same time, I was understanding the balance of professional and personal life. Life showed me a side that perhaps most youngsters don’t go through, certainly not in the early teenage years. I am grateful that it made me stronger, more resilient; a go-getter who learned to believe in ‘challenge accepted’ and made it the motto of life.
The Beauty of ‘Verses & Sonnets- Freshly Brewed’:
As someone who has always been creatively inclined, I’ve always tried to make time for the things I loved- be it sketching, pencil shading, oil on canvas or writing poetry. This just accelerated as Art which was a hobby, soon became a form of expression to keep my mind off the everyday chaos and zone out into what I liked to do. I’ve had moments where I’ve felt I was sinking but I simply turned to those creative outlets to channelize what I was feeling.
With writing, it would always start as a basic thought of what I was feeling or something I learned and I would pick up any piece of paper available, where I could pen my words. Words became the best friend I started leaning on when the tide was rough. When I started posting my work, I was taken aback and often brought to tears too with messages from readers. So many said, that the words resonated with how they were feeling, what they were going through, how they loved waking up to the posts. This really encouraged me to believe that others too found their strength in poetry.
All I would say to everyone is, life gets busy. There will always be something that keeps us away from the things we love to do. A hobby we had as a kid, a passion we believe in, something that reminds us of what we love. Make time for it. Make sure you always keep in touch with that side. You’ll be surprised at how much peace you get. It’s never too late to start.
Evolution of the Marketing Sector:
I once read a quote “You are currently studying for jobs, that don’t yet exist”. This is so true and has been in my case. When I was studying the concepts of ‘Sports Marketing ‘and ‘Digital Marketing’ it simply didn’t exist the way they do today. Today you have universities offering degrees for students to be better equipped with the subject matter before pursuing these careers.
From what was just ‘informing the consumer of products, to creatively trying to make the product a consumer’s first choice, to social media and its power addressing the ever growing needs of the consumers’ preference, the industry is evolving even as we speak. While traditional marketing always focused on getting products or services to consumers, today Marketers are more determined to understand the wants and needs of a consumer and address them in the best possible manner.
I’ve seen so many changes including the introduction of Augmented Reality Or Virtual Reality that creates more immersive experiences, the new trend of interacting with consumers through the power of social media and its reach, the rise in competitors and powerful advertising to compete in a cluttered market. The science behind ‘big data’, means how today we are better able to measure the effectiveness of advertising and marketing to gain more accurate results. Marketing will always find more innovative routes to reach the final consumer and to maintain long-term consumer relationships; brands will keep choosing to be more collaborative to build loyalty and preference.
In the last couple of years, the importance of D&I in the workplace has become increasingly important. I used to be a part of the `D&I’ team at Castrol-BP and I clearly remember conducting sessions with the larger team to make them understand all the aspects of D&I. Sometimes people assume that D&I is limited to gender only and we all know that when it comes to diversity and inclusion it’s so much more. Unfortunately, these myths create more prejudices and that could mean having biases towards a certain gender. I have had my own experiences where I’ve been asked how I understand a business that is traditionally male dominated, or how I managed intense long hours of work while balancing the home and domestic front. I remember laughing when asked such questions. Someone stated how they were surprised that I ‘got the business and pricing model’ and how ‘it was impressive’.
Women often face barriers in the corporate world as it is simply assumed that on the home front, it is she who ensures that the home runs smoothly and anything career related simply has to fit around that. Even then, the capacity for women to multitask and pay attention to detail even under pressure, means that they still have ability to deliver at work, whatever the domestic challenges. I’ve been privy to conversations where a ‘promotion’ for a woman I knew was being discussed on the basis of whether or not she may get married that year, and how busy her ‘domestic life’ would get. Whether they should risk promoting her, or should it be deferred to another year? The lady in question was a stellar performer at work, so it is sad that such ‘bias’ could’ve played a part in her career progression.
From my own personal experience, I’ve always believed in being the best and pushing my boundaries in every aspect of my life. Nothing and no one defines what you can and cannot do. The concept of D&I and more importantly its understanding that it is way more than being limited to gender will help people understand why it’s so important to have a concept like this practiced more consciously within an organisation. Only you, define your own self. In the words of ‘William Ernest Henley’ “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.”
Influence of my Mentor:
Over these 15 years of my life, I’ve had the fortune of having some amazing mentors in the companies I’ve worked for. Some were more inspirational with their flourishing corporate journeys and some who gave me practical direction and guidance both for my personal and professional goals.
In different ways, all my mentors have always believed in me, pushed me to think harder, to challenge myself to create new benchmarks. What was wonderful about this journey was how I was empowered by them to take risks, make my own decisions and learn the art of being accountable for both successes and failures. But most of all, how to always be grounded and have your head strongly screwed on your shoulders. I try everyday to do my bit, to learn from every experience with seniors, peers or team members and create an environment of trust.