Joining us for this segment of Women In Marketing is Mrunal Kshirsagar who is the Marketing Manager for Perfect Skills. Whilst she started her career in finance, she was regularly commended by her peers for her creativity. Needless to say, she left her career in banking for marketing which she has become a trailblazer in. Let’s learn more about her.
LET’S GET PERSONAL
THANK YOU FOR TAKING THE TIME TO PARTICIPATE IN OUR WOMEN IN MARKETING SERIES, MRUNAL. LET’S START ON A LIGHTER NOTE. WHERE WERE YOU BORN? WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR MEMORIES GROWING UP?
I was born in Nashik, Maharashtra. As the daughter of a civil service father, I had the privilege to visit and live in many new cities in Maharashtra. They have a unique character.
WHAT WERE YOU LIKE IN YOUR HIGH SCHOOL/COLLEGE YEARS?
I have always been a Leader and have represented my class in many competitions and won many. In my college years, I had the privilege to study at one of the prestigious colleges of commerce, The R.A. Podar College. I participated in a youth festival held by the University of Mumbai. I hosted events where I had the chance to learn many things like event management, Teamwork, Negotiations, Celebrity Management.
IF YOU COULD BE ANY ANIMAL, WHAT WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
I would be a dolphin. Dolphins are happy to go lucky, which resembles my personality.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE MEAL? THAT ONE MEAL YOU WOULD FEEL NO SHAME FOR NOT SHARING!
PURAN POLI. It’s a Maharashtrian traditional meal. I feel no Shame for not sharing. HAHAHA
IMAGINE WAKING UP $10 MILLION RICHER TOMORROW, WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH YOUR FORTUNE?
INVEST IN A STARTUP. BECOME ANGEL INVESTOR. The future holds many good things for entrepreneurs. People with new vision and mission come forward with a zeal to give solutions to people’s problems.
WHAT IS THE ONE INTERESTING THING ABOUT YOU THAT WE WOULDN’T FIND ON YOUR LINKEDIN PROFILE? ANY HIDDEN TALENTS PERHAPS? PREVIOUS WOMEN IN MARKETING CANDIDATE, DR. LIEZEL BYGATE SAID THAT SHE IS AN EXPERT HULA-HOOPER!
I’M A GOOD SINGER AND A PAINTER. I founded two companies that failed miserably, but then my 3rd venture went well.
CAREER AND WORKPLACE
WHAT ENCOURAGED YOU TO PURSUE A CAREER IN MARKETING? AFTER ALL, MOST OF US GREW UP WANTING TO BE DOCTORS, RIGHT?
Being from a middle-class family, Doing an MBA gives so many thoughts for financing the fees and daily meals. Soon after I graduated, I began working. Because I come from a finance background, I opted to work at Axis Bank. I always knew doing a job in a square box would never excite me. Whilst working at the bank, many people told me that I had a creative bone and excellent communication skills. Over time, I lost my passion for finance. I needed something that excited me and decided to leave banking and pursue marketing.
I used to save money for future requirements. I guess doing an MBA in Marketing was my requirement. My experience in coordinating high school events exposed me to the science of marketing. I have always been a people’s person. Even though I took the time to understand my passion for marketing, it’s always been there in me.
GIVE US A SNEAK PEEK OF HOW YOU TYPICALLY START YOUR DAY. ARE YOU #TEAMCOFFEE OR #TEAMTEA? OR BOTH? YOU BEAUTIFUL REBEL!
I am a hardcore #TeamTea fan. Being from India, tea means Chai. Our day starts with a tea in hand and a newspaper to read. Our grandparents taught us. So I am a tea lover. I feel tea gives me a kick for my creativity.
HOW BEST DO YOU MAINTAIN A WORK-LIFE BALANCE?
Being a Marketer means being available all the time. If your background is marketing, it means you are a very observant and creative person with good communication skills. And you can never stop doing these three things. It can get messy at times, but I like it. For instance, I would observe a waiter and watch how they engage with a patron. I am interested in how he suggests those items which are a speciality of their restaurant. You can learn so much from watching people’s interactions, some things you will never be able to learn at school or university. I make sure I make time for the family because they always come FIRST!
YOU OBTAINED YOUR MBA IN MARKETING FROM THE SINHAGAD BUSINESS SCHOOL. YESSS GIRL! ACCORDING TO CNBC, RESEARCH CONDUCTED BY GLASSDOOR FOUND THAT COMPANIES LIKE APPLE, GOOGLE, AND IBM (AMONGST OTHERS) OFFER WORK-FROM-HOME JOBS THAT DO NOT REQUIRE ANY FORMAL EDUCATION. IN YOUR OPINION, HOW CAN YOUNG WOMEN UTILISE THE INTERNET TO UPSKILL THEIR CAREERS PARTICULARLY IF THEY ARE NOT ABLE TO AFFORD A FORMAL EDUCATION?
Formal education helps you to build a network base. However, real knowledge comes from practical experience. The internet is a blessing. Everything is out there on the internet; you need to be CURIOUS. Curiosity is a weapon to gain knowledge and master it. If you are curious to build your career in marketing, nothing can stop you from learning. There are many courses available out there. The internet provides for theoretical knowledge that you can use practically. You can learn it from your small venture as well. So I strongly believe no degree can define potential in you.
YOU HAVE A GREAT RESUME. YOU’VE WORKED FOR COMPANIES SUCH AS AXIS BANK AS WELL AS RADIO MIRCHI. HOW IMPORTANT HAS LINKEDIN BEEN FOR YOU AND WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR YOUNG WOMEN LOOKING TO ESTABLISH THEIR PROFESSIONAL BRAND FOR NETWORKING PURPOSES?
LinkedIn is a great social media platform for us to showcase our skills. I feel people have not fully understood the importance of LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a blessing. I obtained an internship and my current job, whilst in the pandemic, because of LinkedIn. I would advise young women to start building their network on LinkedIn. Many people out there are posting a lot of stuff, but you should define how you are different from others. Start connecting with people in the industry which you want to work. Start reading articles on LinkedIn. Start posting your own experience and review. In short, be active on LinkedIn because you never know which opportunity will knock on your door.
SABRA MWAURA WAS A FEATURE FOR OUR WOMEN IN MARKETING SERIES. SHE MADE A FEW GOOD POINTS ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF MENTORSHIP FOR WOMEN. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON MENTORSHIP?
It’s much needed. A mentor is someone who guides you in the right direction and supports you at times. I never had anyone as my mentor. I want to be someone’s mentor. I have always helped people in my circle; I feel mentoring is much needed because you can start working in the right direction.
WHAT’S YOUR SMARTEST WORK-RELATED SHORTCUT OR PRODUCTIVITY HACK?
Note-taking. I always write down what’s going on in my mind even though it may not be helpful at the current time it does help me at later stages.
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?
Job hopping is when you are not clear about your intentions. If you find a job that nurtures you and helps you grow, there is no need to do job-hopping. I agree if someone is not happy with the kind of work they are doing, they should leave it but then take time and find the right one and invest your skill and time in it.
FOR IT’S 2019 MOST INFLUENTIAL CMO’S REPORT, FORBES LISTED 31 WOMEN OUT OF 50 CANDIDATES (19 MEN). IT APPEARS THAT MORE WOMEN OCCUPY CMO ROLES COMPARED TO OTHER C-SUITE ROLES. WHY DO YOU THINK THIS IS THE CASE?
It’s great to see women leading in the influential CMOs list. In India, we need more such leading women even though many women are leading in many sectors. People in India need to understand women are beyond the limits if they decide to do so. Women are not just there to do home related stuff.
REPRESENTATION OF WOMEN IN MARKETING, PARTICULARLY, IN SENIOR ROLES IS ON THE UP. IN YOUR OWN OPINION, WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CHALLENGES THAT WOMEN STILL FACE DESPITE THESE CHANGES AND HOW BEST SHOULD THESE BE ADDRESSED?
Wherever you go, you face these kinds of challenges not only in the top role in any role as well. But I’m glad this scenario is changing as people started respecting women for their passion and skills. Women Marketers in India still have these issues. We are, however, facing them and finding solutions to them. Issues will always be there no matter what, all you have to do, face them with courage.
ONE OF THE LEARNING CURVES FOR MOST ORGANISATIONS SINCE THE BEGINNING OF THE PANDEMIC, IS THE SUCCESSFUL IMPLEMENTATION OF DIGITAL INFRASTRUCTURES TO FACILITATE REMOTE WORK. FOR TECH PLAYERS IN SILICON VALLEY THE TRANSITION WAS RELATIVELY SMOOTH WITH THE LIKES OF FACEBOOK AND TWITTER DESIGNING A FUTURE WHERE THEIR STAFF MAY POTENTIALLY WORK REMOTELY FOREVER. THE ARGUMENT THOUGH, IS THAT THIS IS LONG OVERDUE. IN YOUR OPINION, WHY HAVE COMPANIES TAKEN SO LONG TO IMPLEMENT REMOTE WORK OPPORTUNITIES?
Until and unless you face the crisis, you don’t want to find the solution to it. This pandemic scenario is somewhat like those companies had no other choice other than to take care of their employees by allowing them to work from home. The pandemic has taken us ten years ahead. That’s why the changes which we are likely to do in 10 years we are doing now. We don’t find a solution until there is a problem, that’s why it took so long.
WORKING FROM HOME IS AWESOME! MOST OF US CAN AGREE. HOWEVER, IT IS NOT WITHOUT IT’S SET OF CHALLENGES. EMPLOYEE WELLNESS HAS TAKEN A SIGNIFICANT STRAIN WITH PEOPLE WORKING LONGER HOURS AS A RESULT OF EMPLOYEES BEING ‘ALWAYS ON’ AND NOT BEING ABLE TO SWITCH OFF. HOW CAN EMPLOYERS GUARD AGAINST EMPLOYEE BURNOUT OR IN THE WORST EVENT, LOSING THEIR BEST TALENT?
Employees should follow their leaders or employers. So I make sure I work efficiently within time and complete my work to have time for family. My team members follow the same. They plan their day and complete all tasks on time. So there is no need to be always on. If you work from home, you have to make sure you keep a balance between your work and personal life.
BCG PUBLISHED ITS INNOVATION REPORT FOR 2020 AND AT THE CORE OF ITS SELECTION CRITERIA ARE COMPANIES THAT HAVE SUCCESSFULLY MARRIED ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE IN THEIR PRODUCTS AND SERVICES. ACCORDING TO YOU, WHAT MAKES SOMETHING INNOVATIVE?
AI is the need of any business nowadays.
When the pandemic hit us, we realised how important it is to make a product AI friendly. Therefore, it is crucial to centre your operations around AI.
HEMAL THAKKAR, BRAND MANAGER FOR BURGER KING INDIA IS A RECENT WOMEN IN MARKETING FEATURE. ONE OF THE KEY AREAS SHE IDENTIFIED FOR CONTINUED GROWTH IS THAT OF INFLUENCER MARKETING. WHAT DOES THE FUTURE OF MARKETING LOOK LIKE ACCORDING TO YOU?
Influencer Marketing has hit a big success. Marketers have understood that we can’t reach a range of required audience in a shorter time. Influencer Marketing has been a great help as they have their own set of audiences. It becomes easier to target the leaders than the actual audience. The audience does follow their influencer. They become awestruck and try to be like them. While doing it, they buy products that their influencers are buying.
2020 AND BEYOND
IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME, WHAT WOULD YOU TELL YOUR YOUNGER SELF?
Network online. As a chatterbox self, I had excellent networking skills offline. However, if I could go back into time, I would suggest to my younger self to start networking online. Start reaching out to people who you want to become alike. Networking helps your career move upwards because you follow the right kind of people. Furthermore, you start learning what it takes to reach out to that position. Networking helps you to get a return on your talent.
WHAT CHALLENGE IS ON YOUR PLATE? WHAT ARE SOME OF THE PAIN POINTS YOU ARE TRYING TO OVERCOME IN YOUR LIFE WHETHER PROFESSIONALLY, PERSONALLY OR BOTH?
A challenge I’m currently facing is I don’t have any mentor. So I am my mentor and, when it comes to taking tough decisions, it takes time and a lot of research for me. I want to grow my career internationally. I’m looking for someone who can help. Sometimes I feel if I could have got someone who can mentor me, I could have reached some heights by now because I believe in myself and know my capabilities.
ANY BUCKET LIST ITEMS?
I want to take my mother on a world tour.
She is kind and cute. She lived a disciplined life and had no time for herself. Now that she has I want to take her on a world tour to show her how beautiful this world is. I hope I can complete this dream soon.
WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR SHEROES?
It’s my Mother.
I have seen her managing many roles at once. She inspires me to go beyond my limits. I have seen her doing plenty of work all at once whilst keeping a smiling face. I learned many things from her like time management, Teamwork, Leadership, Winning competitions, Confidence, and keeping your family together by doing all this.
WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?
I have never been a reader.
I have read some books in my childhood. My father tried so hard to get me into this reading hobby but never succeeded. I don’t read books. I read blogs and articles which add more knowledge to me and give solutions to all my curiosity.
WHAT WOULD YOU COME BACK AS IN THE NEXT LIFETIME CAREER-WISE? DO YOU THINK YOU MISSED A CALLING?
I would be a professional singer. Yes, I do feel like I missed singing as my career. I have given singing exams to qualify as a professional singer but, I left that in between due to unavoidable reasons. I know I still have time so let’s see, maybe I don’t need the next lifetime for this 🙂
WHAT IS ON YOUR NETFLIX WATCHLIST?
I like watching soothing shows which are related to life. I prefer to get to know life in a new way. It is nearly impossible for us to understand someone else’s life struggle and learning. Movies and series such as these help us to realise that things take time. It is what life is all about.
WHO HAVEN’T YOU SEEN OR TALKED TO IN A LONG TIME AND HOPE THEY ARE DOING OKAY?
I generally make sure to stay connected with my loved ones. Still, I haven’t met my favourite teacher from high school and have not talked to her for a long time. I hope she is well.
A UNIQUE MESSAGE FOR ALL YOUNG PROFESSIONALS IN THE MARKETING INDUSTRY
I feel these three are the most important aspect to anyone who is working in the marketing industry. Staying relevant is crucial.
Networking will help you connect with the right people who will help you grow in the industry.
Curiosity. Remaining curious will help you get your understanding straight. Being curious will help you find out the solution to your problems.
Ideas. Your ideas will define you. There are people out there trying to make their mark or to get noticed but understand. Ideas unique to you will help you stand out in a crowd. Marketers are known for their unique ideas. If at times, you doubt those ideas, continue to believe in yourself. Believe in the ideas you have, they matter.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME MRUNAL. WE HOPE THIS INTERVIEW WILL INSPIRE FUTURE LEADERS AND OTHER WOMEN IN MARKETING. HOW CAN PEOPLE FOLLOW YOU ON SOCIAL MEDIA?
Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity and considering me worthy. You guys are doing a great job. I am happy to be a part of this. May your work grow so big each day. Here is my LinkedIn profile so people can get connected.
Thanks Again! 🙂