My Transformational Journey from being an Advertising Professional to becoming a Marketing Strategist at a Big 4 Consulting Firm

I grew up with the resolve to give my best in everything I do—professionally and personally. I believe this is the best way to add value and make a difference in whatever I commit to work on or to be a part of. I have learnt to pursue excellence.

My Early Life and Education

 I have been living in Bangalore since 2002 and I come from a family that emphasises on instilling good values. This has helped me build a solid foundation for navigating the world and facing challenges. My family also believes that education and hard work are the building blocks of personal growth.

I followed up my schooling from Bishop Cotton Boys’ School, with an under-graduation programme (BBM) from Christ University, Bangalore. This programme taught me the basics of management science and whetted my desire to pursue a career in management as a means of making a lasting impact. I participated in and organised various activities like commerce festivals, quizzes, events, etc. and discovered my aptitude for organising events and dealing with people. Those years in college strengthened my desire to grow further in these areas. After my graduation, I decided to pursue MSc. Marketing at the University of Bath School of Management, UK. The student body was diverse in terms of culture, geography, overall perspective, and industry experience. Because of my travels to 25+ countries, I was able to fit in and connect easily with my batchmates. A subject that got me hooked was ‘Marketing in the Digital World’. This is where I found my calling.

I developed a keen interest in digital marketing because of the coursework and case studies we did. During my postgraduate studies in 2013, digital media was at its nascent stage. With the gaining popularity of social media, the overall digital ecosystem had begun to evolve. Our professor emphasised the need for businesses to have a strong online presence to remain competitive in the market. We studied topics such as search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click advertising (PPC), social media marketing, email marketing, and content marketing. These topics gave me a deeper understanding of how digital marketing works and how it can be used to drive business results. In fact, I was so interested in this area that I wrote my dissertation on how one of the fastest growing mobile companies in India used digital and social media marketing platforms to create business impact. When I returned to India, I realised the best place to learn and acquire these skills was    either at a digital agency or at a startup.    

My Career in Digital and Startup World

Startups and advertising firms were the stepping stones to my successful career in the digital space. I worked with several marquee brands and delivered successful digital media campaigns. All of this boosted my self-confidence and inspired me to do something different. I wanted to get into a role of higher accountability and ownership for results. The early exposure to start-ups in the digital world inspired me to pursue my entrepreneurial dream. Along with two friends, I built a startup, marketed and positioned as India’s First People Search Engine.– This was a need and attribute-based search functionality built on top of a people network, with an ability to get instantly connected through the application. Our team of seven

(including the promoters) created the mobile app and grew it to 1000+ registrations. We, however, could not afford to fund a further scale up and had to abort our venture.

My mentors helped identify and dissect the causes of failure. Despite this setback, I was determined to turn things around and pursue new opportunities. I started working at Dentsu Aegis Network to help me get exposed to digital and new age marketing. I took this as a challenge to learn and master the skills. It was during this time that I considered pursuing an MBA, for I needed to develop my business acumen to succeed in my future endeavours. My startup exposure provided me with invaluable experience and insights, but I realised there were gaps in my knowledge that only an MBA could fix. My subsequent roles helped me learn the “How” of digital and social media marketing. However, to manage and create a business, I needed to focus more on the “Why” and “What”, which is where an MBA came into the picture.

My PGPpro Journey and the Move to Business Consulting

My foremost preference was the PGPpro programme at the Indian School of Business. As a recent graduate, I can confidently say that this programme has been one of the most transformative experiences of my life. After researching various programmes, I decided to pursue the programme from the Indian School of Business for several reasons.

First and foremost, the school's reputation for academic excellence and rigorous coursework was a major factor in my decision. ISB has strong ties with Kellogg, Wharton, LBS, MIT and the Fletcher School, making it even more desirable to pursue the programme. The faculty at the school is top-notch, with several professors holding advanced degrees from prestigious institutions around the world. Additionally, the school has a strong alumni network, which has leaders in their respective fields, and they provide valuable resources and support to students.

A unique aspect of the PGPpro program is its focus on experiential learning. Throughout the programme, I had the opportunity to work on real-world business problems. The hands-on experience gave me a deeper understanding of the business challenges and the practical skills necessary to succeed in the corporate world. Another important factor was the diversity of the student body. The diversity in terms of industry experiences, perspectives, and know-how in the classroom was invaluable to me. I learnt as much from my classmates as I did from my professors.

Finally, the resources and support provided by the Indian School of Business for its students are unparalleled. From career services and networking events to mentorship and leadership sessions, the school is dedicated to helping its students achieve their goals and reach their full potential.

With COVID related sensitivities, our programme was put on hold for a few months, as the entire management and the teaching faculty were grappling with determining how to keep the programme engaging, relevant ,and of value to the students during such a black swan event. Our cohort was feeling low and so we formed a social club to help our batch combat feelings of negativity. I was one of the co-leads that came up with several engaging online activities for our batch, for them to stay productive and, most importantly, positive throughout the programme. Our success with the social club inspired several cohorts to form their own social clubs. In the last few months of the programme, we returned to the normal classroom norms. This is when our social club held an award ceremony for the Bangalore and Mumbai cohorts, to reminisce about the good times during the programme, irrespective of the ups and

downs each of us had been through. This helped me connect and build everlasting friendships within my cohort.

After two years of self-exploration at ISB, I got an opportunity to work as a marketing strategist at EY. This came as a great opportunity to further hone my strategic thinking and problem-solving skills, which I had started developing at ISB, to go further in my career. Looking back, I am grateful for the experience gathered from my digital and startup exposure, as it taught me the importance of resilience and adaptability. I'm confident that the PGPpro learnings and the experience at EY will help me answer the why and what of understanding and running a successful business. ISB had a big role to play in my career switch from an advertising professional to a business consultant—a leap that was unfathomable to me at that point in my career. I owe this completely to the PGPpro programme, the faculty, the alumni network, and the cohort at large.

Yes, the programme is rigorous and challenging, but the skills and knowledge gained from this experience are rewarding and will serve you well throughout your career. Whether you're looking to advance in your current field or switch to a new industry, I can vouch that the PGPpro programme will provide you with the tools and resources necessary to succeed. Here’s a message to all my friends, colleagues, and career aspirants—If I can do it, so can you. After all, the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.

Lastly, in the words of Confucius –

"The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential, these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence."