Amita in her three decades long career in Media & Marketing and has worked with the best in the industry. Today she is the Managing Director of HH Global (India), a leader in marketing solutions, and a trusted partner to leading brands across 50 countries. A marketing and media professional with over three decades of experience, she has been instrumental in making HH Global one of the largest marketing solutions companies in India, by leveraging her multisectoral proficiency in unlocking value for clients. Under her leadership, HH Global has acquired marquee brands and retained legacy relationships to emerge as a market leader.
In her personal life, Amita is a fitness enthusiast, loves travelling, guides students & young professionals on the Intercell-Virtual Mentor platform and enjoys reading fiction and nonfiction.
In today’s Leaderspeak, Amita Karwal, MD, HH Global, India speaks about her professional journey, empowering women and much more.
Who is Amita Karwal?
Amita is the Managing Director of HH Global (India), a leader in marketing solutions, and a trusted partner to leading brands across 50 countries. A marketing and media professional with over three decades of experience, Amita has been instrumental in making HH Global one of the largest marketing solutions companies in India, by leveraging her multisectoral proficiency in unlocking value for clients. Under her leadership, HH Global has acquired marquee brands and retained legacy relationships to emerge as a market leader.
The print and POS management category in India has been largely commoditised over the past many years with a limited value proposition to brands. With her aggregation and marketing communications experience, Amita has raised the bar in terms of client satisfaction by ensuring that print, POS aggregation and outsourced procurement becomes a key initiative for clients to optimize their bottom line.
Amita has worked across categories and segments in the space of marketing solutions, aggregation, and brand communications. She has handled several leadership roles in the media, consumer electronics, and FMCG industry working with market leaders such as Dentsu Aegis Network, Omnicom, Zenith Optimedia, Samsung, RB (erstwhile Reckitt Benckiser), to name a few.
You have had a long rewarding career of 3 decades in the media & marketing space, how has the journey been? What are the changes you are seeing now?
I started my career in a large media agency when the Indians were watching only Doordarshan, listening to VividhBharti and reading 1 newspaper. From then to now I have seen media,technology,consumers, industries getting transformed in such a way that we truly belong to one world today with choices that have exploded our lives virtually and physically. This massive transformation has brought many challenges in workplaces where the solutions had to be sought not through past learnings but through continuous ingenuity and creativity.
As a strong client management professional I have viewed the corporate world moving from steady , planned growth to aggressive momentum which has challenged all its partners by way of cost optimisation , demand for continuous improvement, result-oriented performance , innovation that bring brands and consumers up close in the newest ways possible . We went through the wave of liberalization, explosion of media, arrival of internet and social media bubble and now rapid digital transformation across all part of the business. Clearly, we are seeing technology transforming business process, replacing manpower through machine leaning, data sciences building large algorithm that helps in adoption of predictive modelling.
All this is challenging us to yet again rethink and reinvent our business models to adapt to client needs as well to the changing consumer behaviour. One significant change I have seen is the role that regulation and compliance has started playing in business. This is good from a future standpoint as any scale cannot be sustained if it is not managed without risk mitigation and responsible corporate behaviour. I am also seeing industry consciously moving towards creating sustainable agenda across all levels of production, be it manufacturing or while producing collaterals. I believe we are entering a world of responsible consumerism which demands us to act ethically in business and daily lives
Who has been your inspiration recognising in the early days of your career? A mentor whose teachings have held you in good stead all these years.
I have been inspired professionally and personally by strong women leaders with whom I have had the privilege to work with throughout my career span. My mother was also a very courageous lady and she has been one of the biggest sources of inspiration in my life. I am a strong believer that competence always wins over style.
I have seen women who have held senior position for long and have been there because they have been more driven, focussed and hardworking. I have always believed that as a leader I am not just working for myself but for the many behind me who are at this moment, in the middle management roles struggling with home and work priorities and wondering if they should continue or quit when the going gets real tough on both fronts.
The challenges you faced and the most important achievement in your career?
As a career-oriented woman, I have faced daily challenges on work front as well asat home. There has never been a dull moment as I waded through an important pitch or my kids falling sick on the day of an important meeting of the year! I guess it is the same for all women. My most rewarding moments have come when I have seen the tangible results of my hard work in the form of brand success,meeting our budgeted targets and more so in the last 3 years as I have seen HH Global transforming from a small business to a significant player in the market place. Most recently when we renewed a very prestigious contract it was my moment of high! During COVID times I have seen my team rallying together, working tirelessly towards a common goal and that is to me the biggest achievement.
As Managing Director, HH Global, how has the journey been and what have been the innovations for your brands?
It has been a great journey so far and I truly believe a very rewarding one. With an excellent and ambitious team, we have been able to not only bring more value to our clients through our services but also position HH Global as a leading marketing solutions provider in India. There was a need for refreshed thinking and thoughtful innovations that could not just drive growth for the company but for the entire industry to stand out.
In this highly commoditised industry, over the past few years, we have successfully raised the bar and developed a unique management culture that is singularly client-centric and has an impetus on making the company future-ready through technology-driven solutions, automation in processes, and A. I. driven data analysis. At the heart of HH Global lies its key values; acting with integrity, pursuing excellence relentlessly and love to innovate and take lead.
The pandemic made it more important than ever for brands to optimize their spends and improve their business bottom line, as they invest millions in ‘above the line’ (ATL) media to boost brand awareness and recognition. Today, marketing and procurement leaders are finding themselves needing to accomplish more with less, stretching themselves further to keep budgets manageable and competitive edges sharp.
HH Global understands this and ensures that marketing collaterals are managed in a cost-effective and sustainable manner with agile turnarounds, thereby acting as a key lever in optimizing the marketing spend and unlocking value to the brand’s bottom line. We are reinventing the industry through innovative business model that delivers increased efficiency in the marketing execution process, reduced costs, less wastage, faster time to market, consolidation of spend, innovation, and creativity, without compromising on risk and quality.
In this age of digital disruption, emerging technologies and changing retail environment, HH Global is at the forefront helping brands with digital solutions at all retail touch points including content management systems and AI-driven point of sale analysis. We are helping brands in ensuring that their brand is visible amidst the disruptive retail environment and help in managing the last mile delivery to enhance the customer’s shopping journey and experience.
Under your guidance at HH Global you have made sure that the company’s services drive sustainability for your clients. Can you elaborate on this?
HH Global has been rated as ‘Gold’ in sustainability rating by ECOVADIS in the year 2020; this is a testimony of our commitment in relentlessly pursuing a sustainable agenda in our services to clients. As a company, we follow the United Nations Sustainability Development Goals to drive sustainable solutions for our clients. Most of our clients have their sustainability agenda; we ensure that our solutions are not only dove-tailed to the client’s program but go above and beyond in terms of continuous improvement of the solutions to drive change. At HH Global, we believe in providing clients with a tangible output of our sustainable solutions through a Sustainability dashboard. This report displays the impact on the environment by our clients by executing our solutions. I have also ensured that we keep augmenting our supply chain with green partners and work with our suppliers to innovate on new eco-friendly material substitutes for print and POS. I aim to have over 75% sustainable material usage, across clients, in the next 24 months.
How is HH Global now future ready by bringing in technology evaluation in retail space?
We have kept our ears to the ground; build strong shopper insights that have helped us to create immersive technology solutions that will allow consumers to interact with our brands seamlessly and safely in the new normal. Our agile culture has helped us to create a diversified supply chain that brings in unique interactive technology interventions at different steps of the shopper journey.
With COVID-19 and new normal way of life, how is the industry changing?
Pandemic has disrupted the retail environment like never before. The yesteryear Kirana stores which accounted for 75% of the segment have emerged as HEROS. As these stores became the neighbourhood lifeline, we now see many of them getting transformed from cluttered shop environments into safe, contact less self-service stores with speedy delivery offered as a convenience to customers.
Modern Retail, which accounts for 18% of the pie has taken a severe beating during COVID and is now building a revival strategy around Omni channelexperience that relies on quick entry and quick exit for customers. Product displays are changing from being static to more interactive and content based. Virtual assistant, though very nascent, also will see playing an active role in supporting shopper journeys as Modern trade transforms into experience stores as well. E commerce which has seen accelerated growth with a steep jump from 3 to 6-7 % share will continue to grow as shopper’s choice of platform for convenience as well as premium purchase. More and more brands in the FMCG segment are looking at making premium products available to online platforms which was not the scenario in pre COVID times.
Safety and contactless payments will drive consumer choice of channels. With the number of physical visits to stores reducing, large format stores will be compelled to ensure products of choice are available as much as the availability of non – essential products along with essential products.
As a women leader and MD, what is your take on women getting more opportunities in the corporate world?
It gives me immense pleasure to see how more and more women are not shying away to challenge the stereotype and exploring their capabilities and showcasing talents across sectors. They are pushing the boundaries of gender equality by using their strengths and leadership qualities. The key is confidence in all your resources and abilities, not just those represented on paper.
My advice to all working women and my co- workers is – Never quit in your mind. We all burn out running full steam so it’s natural to take a break but always have a clear plan of not giving up on your dreams. Trying to be superwoman or a super boss is a myth and the weight is too heavy to carry so we must break out of all stereotypes and first become a good team player, empathetic leader and work as equals.
I do wish that organisations keep focusing on mentoring women, offering adequate support to them so that they can step into bigger and diverse roles as they move up the ladder in their careers.
How do you de-stress yourself? Your go to activities during the weekends?
I believe mind and body have to be in sync with the universe, so I like to soak myself in physical activities like workout, playing tennis and walking on weekends and sometimes on weekdays. Reading and involving myself in my Buddhist practice nourishes my soul and energizes me to take on any challenge. My Family time is the biggest stress buster and we enjoy trying different cuisines and travelling out whenever possible