The COVID-19 pandemic created a situation that forced organizations to work from home, where individuals are evaluated on output instead of the number of hours workedYash Bridgmohan
South African born Yash Bridgmohan is Marketing & Communication Advisor for GardaWorld East Africa. Yash is an embodiment of the phrase, ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’. A qualified divemaster, she also has plans to one day publish a children’s book. With that said, let’s dive into 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 Durban, South Africa. While my parents lived in a little town in the Highveld (Mpumalanga), they travelled to Durban to have me so that they had their family around for the big event. Two weeks after my birth, they drove back to Secunda, which is where I was raised with my younger brother.
We lived a very quiet life in Secunda, some of my favourite memories as a child include Saturday morning cartoons with my brother, family road trips, and icy winter days.
SHOW OFF TO OUR READERS. ANY HIDDEN TALENTS YOU CAN SHARE WITH US? A CLARINET STAR IN THE MAKING PERHAPS?
I love scuba diving; I am qualified as a Divemaster. I also enjoy creative writing and plan on writing a children’s book, sometime in the future. I’ve also realized recently that I am good at breeding goldfish! Perhaps a career alternative one day, haha!
WE WOULD ALL LOVE TO WIN THE LOTTERY RIGHT? IF YOU WON $10 MILLION TOMORROW, WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH YOUR FORTUNE?
Wisely, I would invest a significant portion. Selfishly, I would buy an apartment in New York and one in London. And philanthropically, I’m a sucker for all animals. I would use a big portion of the earnings towards helping animals in need.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE MEAL? THAT ONE MEAL YOU WOULDN’T SHARE WITH ANYONE!
I live in Nairobi, and we have a local Italian restaurant that makes the best pasta. I once asked the chef to make a lite prawn linguine for me, the ingredients are olive oil, prawns, parsley and linguine. It’s so delicious that it has become my go-to meal every time I go to that restaurant.
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 always wanted to work for a corporate, when it was time for me to choose a field of study at University, I did not know what I wanted to do and opted for Corporate Communication. In the workplace, I found that I gravitated toward the more creative pieces of work. Even early in my career, I always felt that being a brand custodian was a very important role, it meant ensuring the integrity of the brand, and I felt proud that it was my job.
IF YOU COULD BE ANY ANIMAL IN THE WORLD, WHAT ANIMAL WOULD YOU BE AND WHY?
Hmmm…I think I would be a manta ray.
I’ve encountered a few while scuba diving and they are such majestic animals. Their movements are graceful, they are very curious, and they are plankton feeders, so mostly harmless to all other creatures. They also have large brains and studies have shown that they are one of a few species that show signs of self-awareness.
WHAT’S THE MOST INTERESTING THING ABOUT YOU THAT WE WOULDN’T LEARN FROM YOUR LINKEDIN PROFILE ALONE?
Not sure how interesting it is, but one of the things you wouldn’t learn about me from my LinkedIn profile is that I love the outdoors! Sign me up for any camping or 4×4 trip
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!
Definitely #TEAMCOFFEE! Where would I be without coffee?!
My days over the past few months are very different from my days 6 months ago. Due to the pandemic, I have been working from home the past 6 months. Generally, my days start with a cup of coffee and a team catch up call before we begin the workday.
HOW BEST DO YOU STRIKE A WORK-LIFE BALANCE?
This is one of the things I have not been able to do well!
Our head office is based out of Montreal, Canada which is a 7-hour time difference to us in Nairobi, and so communication doesn’t stop in the evenings. I tend to be a bit of a workaholic answering calls and emails at all hours of the day/night. I thank my lucky stars for my very understanding partner, but this is an area in my life that I am working to improve.
YOU HAVE ACCUMULATED AN ENVIOUS AMOUNT OF EXPERIENCE HAVING WORKED FOR TOP-TIER COMPANIES SUCH AS G4S, ER24 AS WELL AS MONDELEZ. WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM THESE ROLES? HOW ARE YOU APPLYING THESE EXPERIENCES IN YOUR CURRENT ROLE AT GARDAWORLD?
Yes, I have worked at some fantastic companies!
Using 2 of the examples that you have included specifically regarding the attributes I’ve gained and moulded.
G4S is a global security company, I was responsible for Marketing and Communication in the South African business. By the nature of the business, G4S was male-dominated and quite military in style. This environment created a great learning platform helping me to develop my approach to strong personalities.
At Mondelez I learnt that work should be fun, flexible and output-driven. If it’s fun then it does not feel like work, and that is a concept I still live by and one that I will take with me, wherever my career takes me.
YOU OBTAINED YOUR Corporate Communication degree FROM THE University of Johannesburg (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?
There are so many digital channels that can be used to upskill oneself. The LinkedIn Learning app is a great option. LinkedIn hosts free and paid workshops on an array of subjects. Webinars are another sure way to gain knowledge, follow industry-specific companies and attend webinars by industry leaders. Follow marketing experts, they have a wealth of knowledge to share and very often post relevant and interesting material that you can learn from.
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?
I believe that job-hopping for the right reasons can aid your career. The experience I’ve gained through my career is invaluable! Marketing and Communications is such a broad field, and depending on the organization, your role may expect you to focus on a few key elements, but you may not get the opportunity to delve deeply into all.
For example, at Sasol, my focus was internal communication whilst at Johnson Controls I was introduced to M&A and my role swayed more closely toward client communication. When I worked at Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Africa, my key areas included M&A, rebrand, media and public relations. My role at Mondelez focused heavily on media relation, government relations, stakeholder management, enterprise development and community development.
At GardaWorld, a huge part of my role includes rebranding, M&A and product development.
Looking back at what I’ve learnt, I am very grateful to have had these experiences.
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?
Other than the genetic advantage that is so widely described, women tend to be more empathetic, they understand social and non-verbal cues better than men and are more inclined toward creativity.
If I were to generalize, (and this is an oversimplified way of looking at it) I would agree that it is increasingly important to have more female CMOs in business, with women controlling over $20 trillion in global spend, women CMOs may just be better placed to provide marketing direction.
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?
Two reasons come to mind. The average age of a C-Suite member is 55. These Baby Boomers have a different mindset to that of Millennials. Millennials are generally tethered to their smartphones and can work from almost anywhere, Baby Boomers on the other hand prefer face to face interaction and supervision.
I would say that a second reason for this is that organizations are afraid that employees lack accountability and a sense of ownership. Without strict office hours and a physical office, many find it difficult monitoring performance. The COVID-19 pandemic created a situation that forced organizations to work from home, where individuals are evaluated on output instead of the number of hours worked, for many organizations this has been a huge eye-opener.
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?
Organizations should try to maintain ‘office hours’, without expecting employees to respond to emails and calls after hours. As difficult as it can be, it is important that employees take uninterrupted leave regularly, during which they should be able to unwind and rest.
SHERYL SANDBERG MADE AN INTERESTING REMARK IN HER KICK-ASS BIOGRAPHY ‘LEAN IN: WOMEN, WORK, AND THE WILL TO LEAD’ THAT “SEARCHING FOR A MENTOR HAS BECOME THE PROFESSIONAL EQUIVALENT OF WAITING FOR PRINCE CHARMING”. SHE IS ILLUSTRATING THE NOTION OF WOMEN HAVING TO SEEK APPROVAL OR VALIDATION, ESPECIALLY FROM MEN WHO ARE AT MOST TIMES THE MENTORS. WHAT’S YOUR TAKE ON MENTORSHIP?
I can’t say that I agree with that comment.
I don’t believe that the purpose of mentorships is to seek approval and validation. A mentorship should be about guiding and supporting less experienced individuals. I’ve had several mentors through my career, some male, some female and I believe their support and guidance helped me along my career path. I think mentors are important not only in your career, but also in other areas of your life, for example, physical health and wellbeing, financial wellbeing, and spirituality (if you are that way inclined).
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 GARDAWORLD?
I’ve worked with some truly dynamic people at GardaWorld; what I believe sets the company apart from most others in the industry is how it cultivates talent. I think that talent and innovation are intrinsically linked.
Security challenges for businesses are ever-changing and at GardaWorld, we are continuously looking to make our solutions better, and with the support of our dynamic strategic development teams, we are constantly adapting these for the needs of our clients.
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?
Many marketers can relate to the fact that marketing budgets have shrunk as an effect of COVID-19, but this doesn’t mean that this is the fall of influencer marketing. People are spending more time at home and naturally will spend more time on social media. Depending on your industry and objectives, there is still a place for influencer marketing.
WHAT HAVE BEEN SOME OF GARDAWORLD BIGGEST SUCCESSES IN MARKETING OVER THE PAST 12 TO 18 MONTHS?
GardaWorld is a company that prides itself on aggressive growth. Some of our biggest successes in marketing, in the last year and a half, within the East African region, includes rebranding our businesses in four countries to GardaWorld. We also completed several acquisitions and undertook the challenging task of reengineering our alarms business, creating four new product lines.
HOW DO YOU LEVERAGE DATA TO INFORM YOUR DECISION-MAKING?
Research plays a key role in my decision making. It is crucial to understand the market (both digital and offline) before undergoing any marketing activities. Working with sound data also forms the basis for the evaluation of marketing campaigns.
2020 AND BEYOND
WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING? (WHAT DO YOU READ, AND HOW DO YOU CONSUME INFORMATION? PAPERBACK VS EREADER?)
I am reading ‘Anna Karenina’ by Leo Tolstoy; this was the second novel that he wrote and was published in 1877. I am also reading ‘One, No One and One Hundred Thousand’ by Luigi Pirandello, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for Literature in 1934. It’s a fantastic book about authenticity, self-awareness and self-delusion.
I read paperback books. I love the ritual of it, turning the pages, using a bookmark etc. I’ve never really gotten into audiobooks and e-readers.
WHAT IS ON YOUR NETFLIX WATCHLIST?
I’m a big nerd, my go-to movies are anything from the Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit and The Conjuring series. I love sci-fi, horror, and fantasy.
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?
It’s not a new greeting, but I think we can learn a lot from the Asian nations and adopt the bow, with palms pressed together – as one does in prayer. It is graceful, respectful and we can maintain social distancing.
WHO HAVEN’T YOU SEEN OR TALKED TO IN A LONG TIME AND HOPE THEY ARE DOING OKAY?
Without naming everyone, this would include most of my friends and family in South Africa. Skype isn’t enough, I can’t wait to be able to travel and see everyone again!
A UNIQUE MESSAGE FOR ALL YOUNG PROFESSIONALS IN THE MARKETING INDUSTRY
Get your hands dirty! Take every opportunity to gain experience, no job is too big or too small as long as you are gaining experience and providing meaningful support.
IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME, WHAT WOULD YOU TELL YOUR YOUNGER SELF?
Don’t be so hard on yourself, you are doing a great job!
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?
One of my biggest challenges is maintaining a sustainable work/life balance. I am trying to get back into a routine of regular exercise, making more time for quality time for my partner and I, as well as playtime and training for my very unruly fur-babies.
ANY BUCKET LIST ITEMS (PROFESSIONAL AS WELL AS PERSONAL)?
Yes, I have a very big bucket list, a few of these include:
- Trek to Everest Base Camp in Nepal
- Hike to see the Gorillas in Rwanda
- Become fluent in French
- Write a children’s book
WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR FEMALE HEROES?
- Swimmer, Natalie du Toit
- Author and speaker, Anneke Lucas
- New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern
- Retired Chairman and CEO of Mondelez, Irene Rosenfeld
- And my mom