I think mental wellness is a topic that is very underrated in our country but yes, employers must ensure that the employees are not working over the weekends or extra hours without the right motivation or compensation.Suhasini Barman
Suhasini is Director and Creative Partner at her consultancy, Suhasini Barman & Co. With over 4 years of experience working for agencies and corporates, a close friend motivated her to take the leap of faith! Here’s her story for this segment of Women In Marketing
LET’S GET PERSONAL
WHERE WERE YOU BORN? WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FONDEST MEMORIES?
I was born in Kolkata, India. Some of my fondest memories are of Sunday mornings with dad. While growing up we used to hear a lot of old records, visit bookstores, make breakfast together, crack jokes, buy flowers for each other and have a lot of fun. Sunday mornings were kind of a ritual. He taught me to love & laugh a lot in life, and to be relentlessly kind.
SHOW OFF TO OUR READERS. ANY HIDDEN TALENTS YOU CAN SHARE WITH US? A CLARINET STAR IN THE MAKING PERHAPS?
Haha, I have always been an over enthusiast in life. I’ve played some tennis, did some archery, learned calligraphy, painting & bachata. I tend to learn whatever intrigues me. I have a poetry book coming up & I love reading. I have almost 2000+ books at home.
WE WOULD ALL LOVE TO WIN THE LOTTERY RIGHT? IF YOU WON $10 MILLION TOMORROW, WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH YOUR FORTUNE?
Travel a lot, contribute to causes I truly believe in and build a sustainable business model which helps us all. $10 million or not, to make a mark in this world is all that matters. But yeah, I will probably hoard on some more books & bookshelves for sure.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE MEAL? THAT ONE MEAL YOU WOULDN’T SHARE WITH ANYONE!
Nutella on salted chips.
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?
I come from a family of authors & business people.
I grew up in awe of my grandmom & great grandmom who were both very successful authors and entrepreneurs. I never intended to be a doctor for sure, but I guess it runs in my blood. Plus I was always an ideas person and loved good storytelling.
IF YOU COULD BE ANY ANIMAL IN THE WORLD, WHAT ANIMAL WOULD YOU BE AND WHY?
Dolphin. Optimism, joy & enthusiasm on point.
WHAT’S THE MOST INTERESTING THING ABOUT YOU THAT WE WOULDN’T LEARN FROM YOUR LINKEDIN PROFILE ALONE?
That I have a million hobbies which I refuse to give up.
Also, I am always chasing new goals every day. Be it in my professional or personal life, I’m game for new challenges. Although I prefer my privacy and I am selective about the ones I love, I am inordinately lucky to have a solid set of 30bffs.
ENTERING THE WORKPLACE
GIVE US A SNEAK PEEK OF HOW YOU TYPICALLY START YOUR DAY. ARE YOU #TEAMCOFFEE OR #TEAMTEA? OR BOTH? YOU BEAUTIFUL REBEL!
My day starts with an hour of tennis and rushing to work really early by 7.30 am and coffee on the way.
HOW BEST DO YOU STRIKE A WORK-LIFE BALANCE?
I love working and I am obsessed with it. But the best part is, I have a really strong support system in the people I love and who have always had my back. From the one I love to family, bosses, professors, clients. I am grateful for all of them.
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?
At the end of the day, contentment matters. One needs to love what they do and be passionate as well. There is no point in doing a job just for the sake of doing it. Quality work aids one’s career, job-hopping or not.
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?
Credibility, compassion, insight and ideas. Female or male, competence is all that matters. Anyone can climb up the ladder, be a CMO or a CEO with the right attitude. And gender must never be a determining factor.
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?
Probably because working from home is to a certain extent a luxury for most people.
Furthermore, working from home does have its own set of challenges for the workforce. Some have wailing babies, some have to attend the doorbell ringing a million times, some have to cook & fend for themselves and their families without any help. I personally doubt the sustainability of the model. It might get overwhelming.
REMOTE WORK HAS COME WITH ITS OWN SET OF CHALLENGES, PARAMOUNT TO THIS IS THE FACT THAT EMPLOYEES ARE NOW ‘ALWAYS ON’ WITH WORK CARRYING OVER EVEN BEYOND WORKING HOURS. IN YOUR OPINION, HOW CAN ORGANISATIONS MANAGE THIS BETTER TO PROTECT THE WELLBEING OF THEIR EMPLOYEES?
I think mental wellness is a topic that is very underrated in our country but yes, employers must ensure that the employees are not working over the weekends or extra hours without the right motivation or compensation. Sticking to office hours is the best policy as a quality deliverable is all that matters at the end of the day.
STORYTELLING SEEMS TO BE THE NEXT RISING BUZZWORD. WHAT’S THE Suhasini Barman & Co STORY? HOW ARE YOU TELLING IT IN AN INTERESTING WAY?
Suhasini Barman & Co started with my ex-boss/mentor & best friend (all rolled into one) Mr. Rohan Sirohia’s (MD at Goodwyn Tea) wild idea of me running an agency of my own which of course seemed impossible to me at the time.
But I had 5+years of solid experience working for agencies & corporates across verticals, and soon I managed to find my niche. Suhasini Barman & Co happened in two weeks and we are not an agency. We provide end to end marketing communication solutions (whatever an agency/Marcom team) does at 60% less cost.
It is a sustainable model where we only work with a limited number of clients a year on a retainership basis to ensure that the quality is intact. I act as their creative partner & my team as their go-to marcom team. All of which would not have been possible without this one person who really believed that I could reach for the stars and have had always been there, doing every little thing that matters. It is our joint effort anyday.
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? HOW DO YOU DEFINE INNOVATION AT Suhasini Barman & Co?
An original idea, to execute the same and be consistent at it. Suhasini Barman & Co is a unique new model which isn’t a push business but a pull one. We work with clients that align with our values and we help businesses grow by being an integral part of the same. We take the onus of our work which a very few do.
Also, Suhasini Barman & Co ensures that we hire competent freshers and students who are good at what they do. We do not let degrees come in the way of work and we try to compensate well while working as a unit. Our service stands out for its quality. We do not compromise on that.
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?
As long as people continue being on social media, they are bound to be in awe of somebody’s lifestyle, someone’s clothes, an aesthetic feed etc.
Hence influencer marketing will have a good run but of course, as David Ogilvy puts it “the consumer isn’t a moron, she is your wife’. Consumers have no dearth of choices as of today, and they will only opt for what suits their need the best. Or the essentials, of course, with or without influencer marketing.
WHAT HAVE BEEN SOME OF Suhasini Barman & Co BIGGEST SUCCESSES IN MARKETING OVER THE PAST 12 TO 18 MONTHS?
Well, we ideated and got the company up and running in 2 weeks with zero financial investments. And it has been overwhelming with people lapping up the idea. We are almost on the verge of blocking our limited number of clients for the year.
2020 AND BEYOND
WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING? (WHAT DO YOU READ, AND HOW DO YOU CONSUME INFORMATION? PAPERBACK VS EREADER?)
Paperback, any day. I am currently reading ‘Digital Minimalism’ by Cal Newport.
WHAT IS ON YOUR NETFLIX WATCHLIST?
‘A Suitable Boy’, ‘Masaba Masaba’ and ‘Lucifer’ (new season). Although, I tend to mostly watch and rewatch ‘Pretty Woman’, ‘Notting Hill’, ‘FRIENDS’ every other day. One cannot get enough of a Julia Roberts movie or FRIENDS I believe.
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?
Keep a Note Card in the wallet that reads ‘SHAKES HAND’. Haha! Will try it myself tomorrow 😀
WHO HAVEN’T YOU SEEN OR TALKED TO IN A LONG TIME AND HOPE THEY ARE DOING OKAY?
I pretty much catch up on everyone I love and social media has made it easier, to be honest.
A UNIQUE MESSAGE FOR ALL YOUNG PROFESSIONALS IN THE MARKETING INDUSTRY
The marketing industry is an ever-evolving sector. Here, no two workdays are the same, as the society, people, their approach towards life and consumer behaviour is constantly changing. One should have a keen eye for spotting insights and must be willing to learn on the go. Start working early.
IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME, WHAT WOULD YOU TELL YOUR YOUNGER SELF?
Don’t let others determine your self-worth. Have faith in your abilities.
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?
Very interesting. Well, Professionally I am trying to streamline it all. The first few years of a new venture are always more challenging, so preparing myself for all the ups and downs. And personally, I am trying to get at least some sleep to be very honest.
WE ARE ALWAYS LOOKING FOR AWESOME WOMEN IN MARKETING TO PROFILE. WHO WOULD YOU LIKE US TO INTERVIEW IN FUTURE?
ANY BUCKET LIST ITEMS (PROFESSIONAL AS WELL AS PERSONAL)?
Professionally, I would want Suhasini Barman & Co to redefine marketing & communication across industries. We are not sector bound so expansion is definitely on the cards and personally, I would want to pen down more poetry books, spend quality time with the loved one and travel a lot sometime soon.
WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR FEMALE HEROES?
Late Mrs Runu Barman. Technical Journalist & Joint Editor, Indian Construction News.
Shraddha Bakshi, Former Head, Army Wives & Welfare Association.
Michelle Obama, of course.