InsideIIM caught up with Aditya Radhakrishnan, Deputy Manager - Marketing (KamaSutra) at Raymond Ltd. He is an alumnus of IIM Indore and was part of the Klueless Team in 2009 (Klueless is IIM Indore's legendary online game that attracts millions of page views each year). We thought it would be great to talk to a graduate 2 years into his marketing job. During his last 2 years, he had a great opportunity to be part of an exciting product launch - KamaSutra's 'KS' Energy Drink. He is also an alumnus of the prestigious BITS, Pilani and has worked with HSBC in the past.
1. How relevant to the job, do you think, are the skills and subjects taught at b-schools? What advice would you want to give to prospective Brand Managers/ Marketing professionals out there?
Experience counts. Marketing hinges on implementation, which you don’t learn in your B-school courses. Nevertheless, their focus on rigorously understanding theory and case studies definitely complement your on-the-job learning. I would also suggest participating in all sorts of competitions in the marketing domain at the inter b-school level. This will not only give you an understanding of that particular category but also help you understand how corporates work and think when you’re presenting your findings.
2. A lot of grads feel they need not go through the grind of a Sales stint in a non-urban setting and directly want to work in the Brand Management/Marketing team. A few companies also believe in this e.g. P&G. What are your views on this?
I feel a sales stint is essential for anyone who plans to pursue a career in marketing. A feel of the product on the ground is the core of an effective marketing strategy. Unless you pound the streets quizzing every shopkeeper about what product sells and how the market works, you cannot ideate your campaign.
Second, sales and marketing are two different sides of the same coin, the two most important functions in every business. To become a business head, you must understand sales and marketing. This is not to say that one can’t be a brand manager without doing sales. But with the right sales understanding it’s easier to get your marketing strategy right in the first go.
3. How creative can you get in a brand management role? Tell us about your inspirations - ideas, personalities?
I think a brand manager needs to be creative enough to understand and appreciate the creative ideas of the agency; that should be the extent of his/her creativity. The role of the brand manager is to provide focused guidance to the agency to extract the best possible creative ideas out of them. Of course, as you work with the brand over time, you will occasionally have a few creative ideas; however it’s best to bounce these off internally before acting on them.
4. How important do you think is the B-School tag? What would you say to students without a reputed B-School tag?
A reputed B-School tag is only good to get you an interview. After that, you’re on your own. If anything, employer expectations are much higher of students from a reputed B-school. For those from Tier 2 schools (and Tier 1 too), performance will get you everywhere.You do good work, you will be noticed and you will get opportunities to grow. The corporate world is a battlefield that does not care where you came from. If you win, you are rewarded.
5. What is a typical work-day like for you? What do you love most about your job?
Contrary to what most people think, crafting strategy is a very small part of a marketer’s job. Much of the day’s work is operational work such as monitoring the implementation of marketing activities. Strategy is critical in a marketing role but not routine.
Almost every aspect of my job requires me to keep in mind what the consumer thinks and his/her reaction. Figuring out what the consumer wants is my biggest challenge, which slowly comes together like a big jigsaw puzzle. And that, for me, is the most exciting part of my job: cracking the consumer code.
6. Which are the new areas in Marketing and Brand Management that students who aspire to join this field should do their homework on?
I think that using social media to market products is the next big thing in marketing. And since it’s a relatively new and untested field, there is not much knowledge in the market. The bigger FMCG players are also increasing their investments in the digital space and the digital medium is no longer used to augment traditional media but in a strategic,standalone medium. Understanding the nuances of this field could give any aspiring marketer a headstart.
7. Do you think that your 4 month exchange programme in Europe helped you in any way in your job? Would you recommend people to go for exchanges?
Going abroad will definitely help you both professionally and personally. Not only will it expose to a completely different way of life, but it will also help you become much more outgoing, confident and sure of yourself. You develop your soft skills when you’re part of an exchange program, by meeting different people in a different cultural setting driven by different motives. And this is something that will definitely help you in your job. So yes, I would definitely recommend participating in an exchange programme.
- as told to Prerna Lalwani
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