In this Part Two of the Straight Talk with the Super Vice-Presidents of Gozoop, we dive deep into the unknown sides of these leaders.
Gozoop in the recent past has won prestigious accounts such as Gulf Oil, Bisleri, Zee Zindagi, GNC and many more. In the lockdown, there were no pay cuts or layoffs, but on-boarded many employees both, at senior and junior levels.
Amyn, you have been recently promoted to VP – Business and Strategy… tell us about your journey with Gozoop and how has the experience been?
AMYN: My journey with Gozoop began in the year 2012 when I joined them as an Account Manager. In 2016, I rejoined as the Group Director – Brand Communications. The experience back then and even now has been extremely rewarding and intrapreneurial.
Coming from a business family and always being interested in the field of creativity, Gozoop, as an organization, allowed me to explore those two sides that are inherently a part of my personality. I can surely say that the current role I will be venturing into was in the making for almost 6 years.
That’s quite a journey, from being an account manager… coming to you, Prem, you too have been recently promoted to VP – National Operations… tell us about your journey with Gozoop and how has the experience been?
PREM: Since my college days, I have had this habit of searching for anything and everything on Google. One such search landed me @ Gozoop in 2010. I joined as a Client Servicing Executive, but my love for Google pushed me in a direction that was digitally integrated, while most job seekers were running behind Social Media.
This, I believe, gave me a solid edge. Within my first 14 months, I was playing the role of Gozoop’s Head Of Online Marketing. I led cross-functional teams and teams of different sizes, handled operational synergy during Gozoop’s acquisition of Red Digital, handled Gozoop Dubai’s operations, and started my operational journey by taking on the very challenging role of Vice President Global Operations. During this time, I got an opportunity to spearhead Gozoop’s expansion to New York, USA.
In 2016, things changed. The market was moving towards specialization. That’s when Gozoop sent me to develop capabilities in Digital Listening and Analytics. I took up the role of Director – Digital Command Center. We developed a one-of-its-kind digital customer experience management. Now, in the role of Vice President Operations, I’m tasked with integrating all functions and helping teams deliver the best digitally integrated services.
Wow! Isn’t that commendable! Prem, what were some teachings from your mentors from the early years whose teachings have held you in good stead throughout… it could be anyone
PREM: Angels have always been with me. Since my childhood, I have surrounded myself with positive and motivating humans. Each one nudged me towards the right path. I am listing down the few most impactful ones that I will never forget.
“There is always a hidden opportunity in every calamity, and Leaders of tomorrow will be the ones who can convert calamities to opportunities” – Prof Y.B Bhide (my principal at SIES College). These lines gave me goosebumps when I heard them for the first time. In the last 15 years, I have tried this in every crisis and have come out stronger than before.
“Output is not in your control, but Input is. Give 200% there”. – Rohan Bhansali, keeps me focused on the right things.
“Idea is an angel, execution is the bitch” – learned this from my ex-client, Shriram Parthsarthy. It is something that taught me the importance of execution.
What about you, Amyn? Any teachings from your mentors from the early years
AMYN: I have had the fortune of working with some of the best minds in this industry. Each one of them has taught me something meaningful, but I will share the ones that have really helped me grow. I hope it helps you too:
Fail fast. Learn faster. This was something I specifically learned from our CEO, Ahmed Aftab Naqvi, in our early days of building Gozoop.
A human being makes a mistake, but a donkey repeats it. So make newer mistakes. This is what I learned in my early days of PR from Sudharshan Sir.
If you can’t change the person (despite multiple efforts), change the person. This is something that time & experience, the biggest mentor of all, has taught me. To have the right team and people with you is non-negotiable.
Amyn, you have been instrumental in crafting the strategy for the extremely viral and popular, twitter account for Mumbai Police… tell us about some important learnings from that experience.
Amyn: Professionally, I learned that any piece of work that has a strong insight is bound to be recognized. The scale may vary depending on the brand or the background, but it is inevitable.
Personally, I learned that never let anything go to your head because the fame that followed post the launch was crazy. However, it was temporary, and one has to keep working. There is no other way. Stay humble, stay hungry.
Well, business for Gozoop has improved in the lockdown and I can only imagine it to better post the covid crises… what are the sentiments of your clients for the most awaited Great Indian Festive season of this ‘iconic’ year 2020! Hope you get the sarcasm with iconic…
Lol. I love sarcasm.
Most of our partners, who really have something relevant to say during the festive season have been optimistic about it and are looking at it as a great window for recovery plus growth. Strategically speaking & according to me – revenge buying or pent up emotions will give the festive season a good momentum. I wouldn’t be surprised if it would even break records in a few categories, because everyone has been looking for a sense of control, and owning brands subconsciously offers that.
Since you are now a part of the senior leadership… how are you inculcating strategy at the junior levels of the agency? What is the agency doing to teach strategic decision making for the younger lot at Gozoop?
AMYN: The creative strategy team that I lead and work very closely with learns everything on the job; whereas the brand team that works regularly with our partners has workshops from experts within the company and external trainers, to learn every aspect of marketing (including strategy), which is attended by all.
Our focus is to develop well-rounded marketers up until the mid-managerial level and inculcate an entrepreneurial mindset for those above it. This is how I believe that we will get holistic drivers for Gozoop, and even the industry.
Coming to you, Prem, You have worn multiple hats in Gozoop all through these years, across ORM and the SEO business at the agency? Would you like to share something young budding agency professionals should make note off?
PREM: Interesting Question. Managing Gozoop’s ORM and SEO units was a life-changing journey for me, and it would be right to say this was the time when my true leadership potential got unlocked. Often, ORM and SEO do not get the serious attention they deserve from brands. The challenge here was to build a narrative from scratch and what we did was wonderful. Today, Gozoop is setting new standards for ORM in the market. On good authority, I can say that it is one of Gozoop’s distinct expertise in the market.
Two things I want budding professionals to make a note of
1) Always keep a check on the way the industry moves. Mind you, it moves very fast. What started as a social media-heavy space is getting more and more integrated. If you want to stay relevant, keep up your pace.
2) Don’t be a Jumping Jack. Invest your time wisely in the right places.
And your role in the lockdown would’ve been priceless…to smoothly handle all operations remotely, how was the experience?
PREM: Since Feb, we were constantly keeping a check on the COVID situation. We moved to work from home roughly two weeks before the actual lockdown was imposed. It gave us the perfect acclimatization time for adjusting to the new normal. All our Infrastructure needs were put in place, and all operational processes, both internal and external, were well implemented, rehearsed, and rectified. When the lockdown was announced on the 25th, we were already functioning like any other day at work. We continue to do so even today, without any major operational breakdowns.
I also want to acknowledge the valiant efforts and dedication shown by my leaders and their teams. Our output quality and efficiency have been the best during the lockdown, and we are constantly on-boarding new brands.
Prem, what would be your focus for the agency in a post-covid era?
PREM: First and foremost would be to spend some time with everyone at work. Our teams have gone through a lot, and we have on-boarded clients with aggressive timelines and have also on-boarded people remotely. I feel personal connection has taken a backseat in this new normal. The first agenda would be to strengthen the one-on-one-connection between teams.
Secondly, I want to personally meet all our clients who stood strong with us during such difficult times and express my gratitude.
Third, my focus over the long term is to strengthen our creative and digital operations to make it future-proof, so work on that front will begin.
Amyn, tell us about a nice campaign you did for your clients during the lockdown…
AMYN: I believe that the campaign we did with Guardian GNC & John Abraham during the lockdown was conceptualized and delivered really well. It not only impacted the business positively but also impacted society in a manner that created a positive difference.
View this post on Instagram
. . . . I am positive there is a silver lining in these dark times. I am positive, that as we move forward, we will hold on to what the past few months have taught us. I am positive… we will live well. I am positive… Are you? #IamPositive #LiveWell #GuardianGNC @guardiangnc
Similarly, very recently we launched a new campaign for 1SmallStep Foundation called – #DontBeACarelessKhajur, which is ongoing.
View this post on Instagram
The asli Careless Khajur is responsible for the spread of Covid-19. But who is that? Watch the video to find out. And don't forget to share it with your friends and family taaki corona ho sake har gully se saaf. For every 100th mention of #DontBeACarelessKhajur, we will donate 10 masks to those in need Music Mixed and Arranged by- @shah_ritvik Gujarati Rap by- @swaggy_the_rapper Malayalam &Hindi Rap by- @mayaviofficial Video Edited by- @therippleeffect_official @chandreshnavik Special Thanks to- @tmtalentmanagement . . . #COVID19 #Corona #Gully #Masks #Family #Friend #Responsibility
A senior once told me that when R.Balki works on a brief, he ensures that while all brand objectives are met from a communication standpoint, the idea creates a change in the society as well. I think we achieved something similar with these campaigns.
On a personal note, Amyn, what would you do if you were not in this business?
AMYN: I decided to join the field of advertising at the age of 13. 17 years from that decision, I can very modestly say that I am one of those individuals who is helming & influencing the new age of advertising in one way or another. However, if not this field or business, I would have been a teacher or an actor plus writer on the side.
Whether good or bad – Telling stories, building narratives, understanding human psychology, strategies, and ideas drive me as a person. I don’t think I could do anything else but this.
And what about you Prem?
PREM: While my father always wanted me to be a CA / Banker, I don’t know if I would fit anywhere else other than the Digital / Marketing / Advertising industry.
But since my childhood, my first choice of career was to join The Indian Army, and second was being an HR.
What do you do when you are not at work?
AMYN: I love understanding what shapes our society, human behavior, and evolution in general. The spiritual meaning & side of life as well. Besides that, I love playing video games, watching movies, reading (sporadically), and often not doing anything at all. Just enjoying life & my being.
PREM: While not at work, I do the following…
-Watch Documentaries on the internet
-Explore MEMEs and learn the story behind how it started
-Cook for my lovely wife and my always-curious 5 year old