In India, many engineers choose to pursue an MBA. And many more find themselves wondering which career path to pursue post MBA. One of the most lucrative careers MBA graduates can pursue? Data analytics. But let’s face it, there are various roles that once can pursue in an analytics career. You can work in finance, strategy, marketing and even operations or HR as an analyst. So what are the skills one needs to get into such a career? And if you’ve graduated as an engineer, what kind of opportunities are open to you? Answering your questions today is Sayantani Bandyopadhyay, Site Merchandiser at Target and MICA alum. A graduate of IIEST Shibpur, Sayantani also worked with Mu Sigma straight out of engineering college. Post MBA, and having studied marketing analytics at MICA, Sayantani shares her career journey with us today. Don’t forget to check it out!
Excerpts from our interview with Sayantani:
Q: Tell us about your journey till now.
A: I completed my engineering from the Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology, Shibpur. Post that I was working with MuSigma for one of the technological behemoths for close to 3 years. As a Decision Scientist in MuSigma, I was involved with driving various high impact projects that required analysis of real-time Big Data, creating meaningful stories to infer comprehensible insights and coming up with actionable recommendations for stakeholders, keeping in line with the ultimate business goal.
Q: Why marketing? Why MICA?
A: In my work experience at MuSigma, my involvement with Data and Search business in general sparked an interest in me to learn more than the tech side of the marketing business. I wanted to learn more about how to marry my data analysis skills with business knowledge so that I can have a holistic view of a problem. MICA, which has been known for its flagship marketing curriculum, enabled me to understand the nuances of marketing not just at a superficial level but also at an emotional and subconscious level and how data could be an integral part of reaching the solution.
Q: What kind of things did you pay attention to while studying your MBA, for a marketing career?
A: MICA helped me realize that marketing is not just about driving campaigns at a superficial level. It is about identifying the hidden codes, needs, and emotions that drive the humans around us and then crafting a strategy and communicating it in the best way possible to the audience.
From the various marketing case studies that we had in our curriculum, I tried to have an in-depth understanding of the root problem and the final solution taken whether it worked/didn’t work. This gave me some idea of how real-life problems are solved and how data can be converted into superior marketing plans.
Q: You work as a site merchandiser at Target. Can you explain what this role involves? Also, explain how you got this role?
A: A site merchandiser is just the digital version of a typical merchandiser in any physical retail store: he/she is responsible in determining how to best utilize the online retail space in terms of product placement and navigation so that the visitor not only has a seamless shopping experience but continues to build his basket and increase his overall lifetime value. But unlike a typical merchandising role, a site merchandiser enjoys a short turnaround time for any change/strategy that he/she wants to drive and with the availability of real-time data, an SM can even track the effectiveness of the strategy and make changes if necessary.
With more and more customers shopping online especially during this COVID pandemic, I find the challenges exciting because you have a lot of data at your perusal but how do you use that data to identify the trends and needs of your visitor and churn your strategy out of it? That's what lies at the core of my role!
Q: In today's time, what kind of fluid marketing roles do you think have evolved, especially for new marketing aspirants to look forward to?
A: Of course with so many technological advances and digital penetration, marketing has moved beyond the typical roles of “marketing/brand managers”. It has evolved to include both business and tech in it. Today, we have Marketing Centric Data Scientists who apply their expertise in statistics and maths to solve marketing problems. We have Product Managers who sit at a unique blend of technology and marketing. We have Marketing Specialists working in the digital space who research the market, analyze trends to help define a marketing strategy to reach the Target Market. And when you look at these careers over a span of diverse industries, your opportunities are multiplied! However, let’s not forget that the human psyche which we all aim to reach through the online/offline medium still remains the same.
Q: Any blogs, resources or books you recommend for people interested in a world of e-commerce, retail and marketing? Provide links if possible.
A: Marketing Management by Philip Kotler is the evergreen bible of understanding basic marketing principles. Currently, I am reading Culture Code by Clotaire Rapaille: in this book, the author explores the underlying codes of various cultures around the world and how brands can leverage this to influence their customer’s buying decisions. I would recommend this to anyone who wants to understand marketing more than a skin-deep level.
Q: Has COVID changed the way you work? If yes, what are some major changes you've experienced?
A: I joined Target virtually this May 2020. It was a different experience altogether and I think by the time I will see the physical office for the first time, I will already be 6-7 months old into the system! Complete WFH is something that I am experiencing for the first time and I have mixed opinions on this. 3 months into this WFH system, I have realized I am optimizing my work and time better, I don’t have to follow a strict office hour policy and I can change them as per my schedule as long as I get my work done. While I enjoy the flexibility in my work hours, I miss the general cacophony of the workspace, your team, and the regular chai breaks!
Q: Tell us your favorite marketing campaign, brand, case study.
A: Today, a lot of brands are trying to step away from the conventional norms of marketing by initiating new conversations on various social issues and challenging established societal beliefs. But one of the first ones to do this I think was Dove with their “Real Beauty” campaign in 2004. When Dove realized that only 2% of the world’s women considered themselves beautiful, it tried to shatter the conventional standards of beauty by featuring real-life women in their ads. They brought out their vulnerabilities and stories; directly appealing to the hundreds of women who were struggling with their self-confidence owing to their physical appearance.
This was a bold move for a time when most of the ads’ lead females would fit a defined formula. Of course, we can always argue that the parent company Unilever also owns Fair&Lovely, the forerunner of the thought that fair is beautiful, but I still think that Dove with the real beauty campaign struck the right chords in the audience and at least got the right conversations started.
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