On this segment of Women In Marketing we chat with Mumbai born marketer Karishma Shastry. She is responsible for Influencer Marketing programs for Shop 101. With a strong creative upbringing, she shares with us why it’s important to always remain curious! Let’s learn more about her
LET’S GET PERSONAL
WHERE WERE YOU BORN? WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FONDEST MEMORIES?
I was born in the heart of India, Mumbai.
I grew up in a creative environment with talented people all around me. My paternal family is into Carnatic Music whilst my maternal family was full of teachers. Both believed in giving back to society and sharing knowledge. My elder sister started learning the Indian Classical dance form- Bharatnatyam, from the age of two! I have learnt the most from her. I am always looking up to her for inspiration and motivation.
I loved the summer vacations where my friends and I would invent a new game every day and spend hours playing. In that too, my sister made sure she had one learning hidden in every game for me. The days would end with a super tiring dance class that my sister conducted every day, free of cost for all the kids in the neighbourhood. That’s where I learnt how not to keep expecting something in return while giving.
I started working early during my graduation days. I wanted to make sure I am independent as soon as I step outside. Those three years were pretty hectic- managing studies, college projects, running back to work, trying to maintain a decent amount of social life! I made sure I worked with startups so I’d have to slog and work harder to reach the goal. I wondered how others did it. But, those three years had a lot in store for me in terms of learning, experience and professional growth. When I look back, I can’t help but thank my stars for giving me such opportunities.
SHOW OFF TO OUR READERS. ANY HIDDEN TALENTS YOU CAN SHARE WITH US? A CLARINET STAR IN THE MAKING PERHAPS?
I’ve always wanted to get into performing arts and become a singer someday. I used to be a state-level singer in my high-school days.
However, I lost touch with singing as I got busy with academics. I knew I had a great voice and could not NOT do anything about it. It was only during my ad-film production days when we needed a voice over artist for a big client.
We tried and tried. We auditioned multiple artists, but the director was not satisfied. It was only at the very last moment he became aware of something. He had only liked my voice! Hence, he rejected everyone else’s. That’s where my voice over journey began. Turns out, I was great at dialogue delivery and would sync in naturally. With little training and rehearsal, I was all set to take it up. Since then, I have been working as a voice-over artist on multiple digital products.
It is not my primary career. I do it out of passion and love the fact that I am finally doing justice with my voice. On the other hand, I am also a trained animal communicator.
WE WOULD ALL LOVE TO WIN THE LOTTERY RIGHT? IF YOU WON $10 MILLION TOMORROW, WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH YOUR FORTUNE?
I have always believed in giving more than taking.
I have been an animal lover and cared for many animals since my childhood. The amount of love and affection I have received from these beings is priceless. It’s been my dream to open an animal shelter and give these innocent beings all the love and care they truly deserve. A care-centre that treats all beings equally.
A world where there’s no hunger, no fear, no helplessness, but only wagging tails and purrs.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE MEAL? THAT ONE MEAL YOU WOULDN’T SHARE WITH ANYONE!
North Indian Chole Bhature (Chickpea curry and fried bread)
WHAT MADE YOU FALL IN LOVE WITH THE WORLD OF MARKETING? WHAT PARTICULAR MOMENT IN TIME PUSHED YOU TO PURSUE THIS CAREER? AFTER ALL, WE ALL WANTED TO BE DOCTORS GROWING UP, RIGHT?
No, I did not want to be a doctor or an engineer growing up.
I knew I’d do something in the creative field from the start. I started off working as an affiliate marketer in e-commerce. It was fascinating! I would experiment and try new ways and methods to derive conclusions and results.
Within 6 months, I would take up projects assigned to my seniors. Unfortunately, this attributed to why I had to quit the company- the boss hated that I was learning everything so quickly and tried restricting my growth. I didn’t fall in love with marketing out of nowhere. I took it slow, I understood it, fit in and worked around it in my way.
I always loved advertising and have grown up watching more ads than mainstream content. I was intrigued and fascinated by how a 15-seconder piece of content could touch millions of minds and hearts and make them think and give a perspective. I knew I wanted to blend in this world and contribute to touching lives and minds. That’s when I got into content marketing.
IF YOU COULD BE ANY ANIMAL IN THE WORLD, WHAT ANIMAL WOULD YOU BE AND WHY?
I’d want to say a dog. But, I don’t have it in me. According to Buzzfeed, I am an owl! It makes sense because I am more mature than I should be at my age, that makes me wise. However, I sometimes like to be as silly and lazy as a Panda! So I chose both.
WHAT’S THE MOST INTERESTING THING ABOUT YOU THAT WE WOULDN’T LEARN FROM YOUR LINKEDIN PROFILE ALONE?
That I am obsessed with animals and that if I could, I would give up on all the luxuries in life and live in a farm raising cows and dogs.
ENTERING THE WORKPLACE
GIVE US A SNEAK PEEK OF HOW YOU TYPICALLY START YOUR DAY. ARE YOU #TEA COFFEE OR #TEAMTEA? OR BOTH? YOU BEAUTIFUL REBEL!
I am a morning person. I wake up at 6 am every day (work from home has screwed that up for me :p). I am a total coffee person. Mornings are for me. I would be scrolling through my phone and sipping on my coffee. I enjoy cooking and feeding people and try to wrap that up before I start my work at 9 am.
HOW BEST DO YOU STRIKE A WORK-LIFE BALANCE?
It’s never been easy to strike a balance. I’ve always seen people around me working hard to get where they are today- that inspired me always. I knew it from the start- if I had to be good at what I do, there is going to be an upward battle.
I chose to do that even if it meant sacrificing my personal life for a few years. Thankfully, I am surrounded by people who understand and appreciate my dedication towards my work. I barely had to witness sad faces. But life after marriage has changed. I want to put my personal life first. I will, however, admit that it has been a difficult balance to maintain.
YOU OBTAINED YOUR BACHELOR’S DEGREE IN MASS COMMUNICATION FROM R.D. NATIONAL COLLEGE (GIRL YOU FANCY!). ACCORDING TO GLASSDOOR, IT HAS BECOME SEEMINGLY EASIER TO APPLY TO WORK FOR COMPANIES LIKE GOOGLE, APPLE AND STARBUCKS AS THEY DO NOT REQUIRE APPLICANTS TO HAVE A DEGREE. HOW CAN YOUNG WOMEN UTILISE THE INTERNET TO UPSKILL THEMSELVES PARTICULARLY IF THEY CANNOT AFFORD TO OBTAIN A FORMAL EDUCATION?
I took formal education and intend to study further because I am interested in learning in the traditional setup.
That doesn’t make me any different than a person who chooses to learn outside the classroom. I believe such people have a much deeper success story. Learning is crucial- It could be with or without a formal degree. What truly matters is your dedication towards reaching your end goal. In India, the proliferation of technology was as recent as five years ago. You need to remain curious. Curiosity about the smallest things could help us with our achievements. It is not very different from the formal education system- you have a world of knowledge right in front of your eyes. It all depends on which book you want to pick or not at all.
Learning takes effort- more so, in an informal setup where you need to teach yourself everything. You probably have to start from scratch and may feel directionless for the longest time, but no knowledge is waste, is it?
All in all, in my opinion, the only way to upskill yourself is by building curiosity to learn more and practice your learnings.
JOB HOPPING IS A COMMON PHENOMENA ESPECIALLY IN THE DYNAMIC WORLD OF ADVERTISING AND MARKETING. WHAT’S YOUR OPINION ON JOB HOPPING? DOES IT HURT OR AID ONE’S CAREER?
It is very subjective.
Whether it hurts or aids your career is dependent on the person’s perspective. While it is common-place, people choose to do it for various reasons like better pay-grade or work culture. You need to grasp just the right amount of knowledge and experience from every stint to aid your career. I love the newness. With every new opportunity, there are new learnings, experiences and challenges even! I made sure I pick the right fruit every single time. It is also not fair to be stuck in monotony for the sake of a secured job or to save your career.
Personal growth is equally important as professional growth- so the learning doesn’t stop.
FOR OUR INTERVIEW WITH YAEL TAMAR FROM SOLIDBLOCK, SHE REMARKED THAT WOMEN ARE MOST LIKELY TO OCCUPY THE CMO ROLE AS COMPARED TO THEIR MALE COUNTERPARTS. WITH WOMEN CONTROLLING OVER $20 TRILLION IN GLOBAL SPENDING, WHY HAS IT BECOME INCREASINGLY IMPORTANT TO HAVE FEMALE CMOS IN YOUR OPINION?
Marketing needs a perspective- one that is different than the rest of the world. If there is an expectation to follow the trends, they may never create a new one. I may not be able to comment on the international markets, but in India, we’ve seen a lot of gender inequality not only in marketing but in every other industry. It is only recently that women have started gaining recognition for their work and when we did- we came with a new vision altogether. It is the vision that’s being appreciated, in my opinion.
While women significantly contribute to global spending, it is also true that we can have a better perspective and outlook towards the market because we’re so deeply involved. We understand what needs the right amount of tweak to make it look better- marketing is just the part and parcel of the alteration we keep creating in our own heads.
SYSTEMS AROUND REMOTE WORK AND VIDEO CONFERENCING ARE INCREASINGLY BECOMING STAPLE IN MOST ORGANISATIONS. ACCORDING TO VISUAL CAPITALIST, ZOOM IS NOW WORTH MORE THAN THE 7 BIGGEST AIRLINES IN THE WORLD AT A WHOPPING MARKET CAPITALIZATION OF JUST OVER $40BN. SUFFICE TO SAY, REMOTE WORKING IS AN ASPECT OF MODERN-DAY WORK THAT HAS BEEN LONG OVERDUE. IN YOUR OPINION, WHY HAVE MOST ORGANISATIONS STRUGGLED TO CONVERT TO THIS WAY OF WORK?
A lot of companies, unfortunately, believe in working hard and not working efficiently. While working in an office setup is ideal, WFH is not so bad on productivity either. It had to take a pandemic for most companies to see that if given space, employees can outdo their capabilities. In my opinion, until now, companies only measure performance as the number of hours an employee spends at work- not the efficacy. I hope many companies imbibe this idea for much longer and remodel their work culture.
STORYTELLING SEEMS TO BE THE NEXT RISING BUZZWORD. WHAT’S THE Shop101 STORY? HOW ARE YOU TELLING IT IN AN INTERESTING WAY?
Shop101 is a social commerce platform that allows aspiring entrepreneurs to set up their own online business without any investment or commitment. It is a female-centric brand. It encourages women who are housewives and female college students to become financially independent. Heading the influencer vertical at Shop101, I happen to interact a lot with people who wholly represent our TG.
Middle-aged women have the perfect no-bullshit filter imbibed in them. They clearly understand what’s on offer and why. What’s in it for them and will it truly add value to their lifestyle. Catering to these filters is as easy as it is complicated. We figured the best way to narrate our story is by keeping it raw, interest-peaking, realistic and motivating. We work a lot around user testimonials, reviews and their journey of being associated with Shop101. We take pride in walking a path that’s considered rather unconventional. Our story is organic.
AT THE TIME OF PUBLISHING, THE DIGITAL MARKETING INSTITUTE ESTIMATED THAT THE INFLUENCER MARKETING INDUSTRY WILL HIT THE $10BN MARK BY 2020. WHETHER B2B OR B2C, IT’S EVIDENT THAT BRANDS AND ORGANISATIONS HAVE HAD THEIR SUCCESS WITH THIS MODEL OF MARKETING. HOW WILL THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC AFFECT THIS INDUSTRY GOING FORWARD AND DO YOU BELIEVE THERE IS STILL A PLACE FOR INFLUENCER MARKETING?
In my opinion, influencer marketing has been in the industry for decades now.
Going back to the basics- the word ‘influencer’ for a layman is anyone and everyone who has the power to preach and deliver knowledge that in return is considered beneficial for an individual. It may be via word of mouth or celebrity endorsements- these tactics wouldn’t have worked if there was no ‘influencer’ and a ‘ consumer’.
Covid has impacted the current influencer scenario positively and negatively. While people are consuming more content, the influencer profiles are growing stronger, however, since brands and companies are going through financial crises- they’re not looking at massive spends on such kinds of non-traditional marketing models. Hopefully, this will not harm influencer marketing. Brands understand the value add here. While most companies have already picked up the bell, we may soon see all of them coming back to stitch their plans via influencers. By then, we may also see a 2x growth in the market.
ANY RECENT/UPCOMING INFLUENCER MARKETING CAMPAIGNS YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE FROM Shop101?
We, at Shop101, have been running influencer led campaigns since June and have seen tremendous and quick growth in the leads generated via influencers. We managed to bring the CPS down by 40% as compared to June 2019.
We work with regional influencers on Youtube and a few short-format platforms. We ran a cool campaign for one of our festive-season offers on Youtube across various languages. We saw an incredible jump in the signup numbers in the Odisha region within the first two days of the making the campaign live. We derived a CPS of as low as INR 2 in that particular week.
2020 AND BEYOND
WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?
I am not a reader in general, but if I do read, I’d prefer to read digital copies on self-development
WHAT IS ON YOUR NETFLIX WATCHLIST?
My Netflix watchlist is that of an extremist. It has classic comedy content like Brooklyn 99 or Friends and psychological thrillers like YOU and The Haunting.
AS WE LEARN TO LIVE WITH COVID19 IF YOU COULD REPLACE THE HANDSHAKE AS A FORM OF GREETING, WHAT INTERESTING NEW GREETING WOULD YOU INTRODUCE?
I am an Indian. I would prefer a Namaste any day over a handshake.
WHO HAVEN’T YOU SEEN OR TALKED TO IN A LONG TIME AND HOPE THEY ARE DOING OKAY?
Everyone I’ve ever known in my lifetime. Times like these make you wonder and value those things and people you didn’t even know matter. Distant or close, it is always important to pray for one’s well being.
A UNIQUE MESSAGE FOR ALL YOUNG PROFESSIONALS IN THE MARKETING INDUSTRY
I am young too! With a clear vision and dedication, it doesn’t matter what age or path of your life, you will excel. Keep hope and never undervalue yourself.
IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME, WHAT WOULD YOU TELL YOUR YOUNGER SELF?
To NEVER underestimate yourself and don’t be scared to say NO.
WHAT CHALLENGE IS ON YOUR PLATE?
I wish to do an MBA from an international university but also love my job too much and cannot NOT work for over a year. The decision making here is difficult as I have always been a workaholic and would hate to give a gap to my career.
ANY BUCKET LIST ITEMS?
An MBA from an international university
Open an animal shelter
Witness every mountain peak ever
WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR FEMALE HEROES?
HOW CAN PEOPLE FOLLOW YOUR COMPANY ON SOCIAL MEDIA?
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