Sunday, 17 April 2016

10 Things I learned from Digital Elective in New York

“This elective will be most relevant to learn innovative methodologies in digital marketing in a place which is the origin for major marketing companies.”

This was the crux of my application for the New York city digital elective held by Saïd Business school for Oxford MBA 2015-16. Let me jump right in with ten hashtags that sum up my learning from the elective and measures the outcomes of this elective against my initial expectations.

CDO at New York’s mayor’s office spoke about digital transformation that has helped parents and children in New York for a smooth Pre-K admission process. The arduous process of downloading, printing and faxing application forms was solved by building a simple app.
From NYC’s CDO to The MET’s CDO who gave us tips on using Instagram and a personal tour of The MET which helped us understand how digital transformation can be used to ensure a museum’s vision of making 5000 years of art available for everyone to enjoy and experience.

All major media companies that we visited from Mashable to New York Times are working on having a unique stack. Mashable gave us a glimpse of Velocity that blew our minds. The New York Times R&D lab that has DELTA which visualizes reader activity in real time impressed us more than the view from The New York Times window. Just to give you a glimpse of the view.

Engaging customers at a particular touch point such as a store front, end of a remote control, the fine print of a newspaper or the blaring sounds of radio is a thing of past. Companies expect marketers to think beyond touch points and engage customers in new and innovative ways. #BORNANDMADE  from Carol Daughter was one of the engagement campaigns that we understood at L’oreal’s New York’s office.

Native advertising, Programmatic Buying, DBM, UGC Widgets, CPL, CPM, CPE, Value Proposition, agile marketing, and I could go on. I learned and understood many new words that are used in the digital marketing context.

Customer data is valuable but without context, marketers cannot use this data to gather the insight which is relevant for marketing strategies.
The equation to remember from our visit to WPP’s office:
To further authenticate this belief at FCB’s office we heard “Data is only as good as what you do with it.”

As we interacted with agencies and some of the potential clients for these agencies, we witnessed a disconnect for KPI’s in digital. What should be measured? How many parameters are enough? Agencies are continuously educating clients. Clients are trying to understand their consumer behavior online which is very erratic. The sweet spot of measurements is still undefined but everybody loves numbers.

“Internal change that organization has to go through to get to external change is more difficult”. Although I heard this quote at Interbrand’s office while learning more about FEDEX office origin, I also witnessed the significance of this quote while visiting The MET. All digital strategies would require more internal alignment to achieve external digital goals.

Storytelling does not belong to a brand or a marketer. In today’s digital world Brand is co-owned by the users and they tell your stories online. Companies have to think of different ways to tell stories. User created content, Native advertising, Story Mining are different ways in which stories can be told or obtained. A brand needs to understand it’s once upon a time.

How important is it to integrate the stories on different platforms? At one end we learned about how marketing team has started calling themselves as Integrated Marketing and at the other end of spectrum we heard creative saying every story should be unique irrespective of the platform. Integration might kill the story. A balance of integration and story telling is what digital platforms need today

FCB creative team summed it up very well for us. “Today everything is more exciting because you can dream bigger.” With technology we should remember the human goals and the most important rule for marketer should be that “Work is authentic to the brand”

These 10 takeaways were from the talks and interactions with various companies. There is a whole list of takeaways because of the amazing company of Oxford MBA’s, Our Professors and also the support staff. It’s the community that enhances any learning and I am glad that I am part of such an amazing community.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Exams, Interview, and Quitting!!!!

After an amazing trip to Spain and France, coming back to Oxford I had lots to look forward to. I will be interviewing with 3 target companies and had 2 exams within 2 weeks of vacation. I was really thankful for the peer lecture by a student for Technology and Operations. Some of my friends tried helping me for business finance as I was occupied with a presentation I had to submit to a prospective employer a day before business finance exam. I am hoping for the best after the exams.

The careers team helps us with aligning our mock interviews before real interviews. These interviews are helpful as we get practice by industry experts. I am looking forward to my Mock interviews next week.

Taking mindfulness practice further, I along with a couple of friends are quitting smoking. Three of us decided to not smoke and keep a tab on each other. I have also downloaded an app that would help me quit smoking . I am thankful that I am in a company which will help me curb down on my harmful addiction. I have 340 classmates with varied expertise and motivations. I just had to find few with common goals. It is not difficult to find like-minded and diverse people. Although an oxymoron this statement will be understood by all Oxonians. I remember before coming to Oxford, I had a discussion with one of my future classmates that this year is going to be a year of change. This year is definitely a life changing experience.

Sunday, 13 December 2015


Oxford MBA encourages students to develop beyond the classroom in many ways. Mindfulness session with an expert is one such way. Mindfulness for me is a state of awareness. I am continuously trying to be aware of myself, my loved ones and my surrounding. I have started this practice of writing 3 things I am grateful about. Just to give you a glimpse of one of the entries:

1. Preparation for coaching session made me think further on what topics I want to address while coaching. I am looking forward to it.

2. Read my case on Tech and Operations, previous two classes I didn’t have the time to read cases and was feeling bad about it.

3. I can spend the entire day at Saïd business school doing something, may be productive or not but now I am at peace with staying at school.

Besides gratefulness, we also concentrate on meditation and other awareness practices in a group setting.

Last week I met Andrew Hunt, an Oxford MBA alum and co-founder of the brand Aduna. Listening to his story was really inspiring. You can read more about him here. Andrew holds an MBA from Saïd, listening to him discussing the challenges of the brand and interacting with our class was an amazing learning experience. He gave us an insight into how a British brand with its roots in Africa can shape its marketing activities to align with its mission to create sustainable livelihoods in rural Africa.

Another important self-development aspect of Oxford MBA that I am looking forward to is the MBA Coaching session with external coach. I have my coaching session tomorrow and have made a set of goals for myself. I will be measuring progress against these goals with the help of external coach assigned by the school
I will be having 3 coaching sessions over the period of 1 year to work on several aspects of my career development.

Besides being mindful and thinking about self development, Oxford is also a place for fun and games. Our first social event Diwali celebration happened last month. After long class sessions some of us along with the help of the amazing spouse community dedicated ourselves to hour long dance practice session. It’s a different kind of pleasure when you see your classmates from around the globe dance on Bollywood numbers.

Our section, section D won the dance off between sections. Below is the proof of me dancing to Bollywood tunes in Oxford.

Michaelmas is coming to an end and I can’t wait to see my family after 3 months. I am looking forward to the break. I learned so many new things during this term, I need to internalize them and get ready for the next term. They call it Hellary!!!