“Cricket is something very critical for me in terms of keeping me motivated at work too. If you look at my entire strategy, my team management skills, it is all connected with the game of cricket. In the game it’s not about just one man but a group of 11 people contributing for the team’s victory. So I embark on the same kind of strategy in terms of my professional work, where it is one for all and all for one. We all play for one common goal of contributing best for the brand. That kind of sportsmanship has helped me to be a good leader, leading this entire marketing team of Equitas,” says Vignesh Murali, Head – Marketing, Brand and Corporate communication, Equitas Small Finance Bank.
That’s not surprising when you learn that he has been a cricketer from the age of three. He has played at the Under-10, U-14, U-16, U-19 levels and has been playing league cricket for more than 20 years now.
He is also captain of the Equitas Bank cricket team, besides leading his club ‘Thunderbolts’. The club was formed with the purpose of ensuring that deserving youngsters get an opportunity to play high quality matches, and hopefully go on to represent the state and country.
“I couldn’t play at the highest level so I want to give it back something in the game of cricket. I am very happy to say that there have been people with Thunderbolt for more than a decade. A few have gone and played for the nation and few are playing for Tamil Nadu U-14, U-19. That gives me immense satisfaction,” notes the marketer, in conversation with MediaNews4u.com.
He explains, “I ensure that I take time off every weekend to atleast play cricket for four to five hours, which gives me enough motivation to come back to office fresh on Monday and give my best. I would encourage everyone to take up any passion in any sporting arena. You need to have passion, else it will be very difficult to be motivated.”
The bank’s cricket team has won a couple of tournaments within a short span of two years, reveals Murali. Thunderbolt is a club team to reckon with in Chennai, he underlines.
Off the Field
Cricket has had an influence on Equitas’ marketing strategies too. Equitas has been the Retail Banking Partner of IPL franchise Chennai Super Kings for the last five years. The bank’s logo is behind the helmet; the marketing campaign is ‘Bank behind every champion’ linked to its positioning of ‘Beyond Banking’. Smriti Mandhana is the bank’s brand ambassador.
Murali observes, “Sports is one thing where there is no division but only unity, all are equal. All eleven people have to wear the particular jersey and when you step in all are equal. Only one thing matters and that is ‘performance’; if you perform you are going to be recognised.”
Emphasising the role sport plays in staying fit, he also underlines his commitment to the game till he becomes a senior citizen.
Padding up for Singapore
An alumni of Vivekananda college, Chennai, Murali did his MBA from Northumbria University, UK. He also did an off-site in Singapore and has played for Ceylon Sports Club and the Singapore national team.
“At a very early age I ensured that I did not get distracted. I am very thankful that I focused my entire energy on sports during my early teens which made me get into the right direction. I was able to play for Singapore, completed my umpiring course and also completed my MBA degree, all these three happened simultaneously.
“I learnt things the hard way by choosing a difficult path, going out of the country, out of my comfort zone and mingling with people from other countries from different cultures; I showcased my skill sets there, got selected and the rest is history. They started liking my performance with the bat. Playing, umpiring helped me earn money,” recalls Murali.
The marketer started his career with The Times of India before working in Murugappa Group’s Cholamandalam Finance. He has been with Equitas for the last nine years.
He states, ‘I was the first member to join the marketing team in Equitas and today when I look back, the strength has grown and having like-minded professionals who are giving their best in terms of the growth of the team and brand, gives me immense satisfaction.”
While there are more opportunities than ever in sports, he urges youngsters to give equal importance to academics.
“It should not be either/or, it should be complementing each other. Not all cricketers are successful but if you are educated and able to keep the passion, if you are good in both, you are lucky. Lot of kids in IPL and other stuff want to make a complete career out of cricket but if they are not successful they will not be in a position to accept the disappointment of failure. Passion is important but not at the cost of education,” is his advice.
He is grateful to his parents for allowing him to pursue cricket. And ‘most importantly’ his wife, who encourages him to play every weekend. “My wife and two kids who have never complained that I am not at home,” he notes.
“Even if you do not score and your team wins you see the smile on your face. That’s the beauty of sport and you can take a lot of learnings from that in professional life too. You need not be successful everyday but when your colleague is successful you can still celebrate; ultimately the team has to win, the brand has to win. If you complement, support, help each other, understand their strengths and weakness, the brand will also benefit,” surmises the team captain.