Inquisitive Interviews : Sinatra Menezes – Brand Manager

More Interviews from the creative side of work. This week we talk to the Brand Manager for one of the most famous brands, Ponds. Here is my interview with Sinatra about her work and career. Please let me know what you guys think of the interview, add to it, please drop in requests of Interviews if you want to see some specific ones.

Inquisitive Interviews, the feature was born out of the requests by some of the students who read this blog, requesting information regarding careers. And with a view to help them make a better choice, I have started to feature various careers from different people, starting with people I know and hoping to slowly reach many different people. The Inquisitive Interviews feature would not only help the students reading the interview but also the interviewee providing them with some Online PR of sorts, the benefits of which I mentioned in another post earlier.

[ Q ] Tell us something about yourself ?

I’m Sinatra, a second generation Indian, born and brought up in Dubai. I completed high school from The Indian High School. Post 10th grade I was faced with a life altering decision, would I opt for Science or Commerce. Finally I choose Commerce with Mathematics, thinking that it would allow me a wider range of job options. One semester through the first year, I realized that Math just wasn’t for me, and was shoved into commerce with Marketing. And this Ladies and Gentlemen, was the best thing that ever happened for my career!! I absolutely loved it and knew that i finally found an area that i could relate to and my gut feeling told me that I’d be good at it.

[ Q ] What do you Do for a living and Where ?

Ponds Brand Manager, Unilever Gulf

[ Q ] Is your job what you expected it to be ?

Everything and more!! I could live and breathe Brand Building for long time to come….the bit that keeps me going is that I’m part of this big project, big idea right from inception till it reaches the hands of consumers.I’m not the best with rountine work, I need something different and challenging happening at all times, to be able to keep my interest levels up.It’s been 8 months since I’ve joined the company, and i can surely say that no two days have been alike.

[ Q ] Is your salary what you expected it to be ?

I know that I’d get paid a lot more in another company. However the stuff that I learn here is invaluable. It’s like my Marketing Director mentioned to me, “if a single month goes by when you can’t add a new line to your resume, that means you are not learning anything new, it’s time to move!”. Unilever is my dream company, and I am very happy to be working here. Every time i walk into the office I can’t help but smile, cuz not too long ago i used to drive by the building wondering if i’d ever get the chance.

 

[ Q ] What is your average day like ?

At any given time I would be working on 5-6 different projects, in addition to ensuring that everyone else does their bit when it comes to the brand Pond’s. Reason being that as Brand Manager, I am responsible for delivering sales numbers, profitability and share growth versus competition. And hence every department needs to be aligned.

[ Q ] What’s the most interesting part of your job ?

The amount of resources that I have on hand! When working on a project, be it the launch of a new product, planning a customer event, or even a press event, I have access to people with specialized skills in various fields. Hence I don’t have to do it myself, I just need to get the work done.

[ Q ] What’s the most challenging part of your job ?

The amount of resources that I have on hand! Like my boss says, think of the company as a ship, you turn the wheel and only 10 minutes later will you see the impact. Similarly when you work with a big company with many people, it takes a long time to ensure that all elements of your plan are aligned.

[ Q ] What’s the part of the job that you don’t like ?

Updating various softwares that are in place, and any job that involves manual data entry……..(hate, hate, hate).

[ Q ] Do you get bored at your workplace at all ?

as of now the only thing that gets be bored is useless meetings. Especially when there is no clear agenda, or no outcome, or even worse, neither of the two!

[ Q ] Do you report to someone ? How much of an impact the person you report to has on your job ?

I report to the Marketing Manager of Face category. The direct boss has a lot of impact on me. Right from the time you join the company, this person takes you through your first induction course, to your first project and then yes, the all important Performance appraisal at year end. As they say people change jobs, not because of the company, but due to the boss.

[ Q ] Do you use all the skills that you learnt in school / college ? or where did you pick up the skills ?

Everything you learn in school comes to use. Even the subjects that you hate. Personally, I hated statistics (high school, college and even during university), but guess what I NEED it at work. I would say that most of the skills that I picked up during my Masters and my work experience have helped shape me as a marketer.

[ Q ] What’s your Alumni ? Where have you studied ?

Schooling                     : The Indian High School, Dubai

Pre University               : The Indian High School, Dubai

Bachelor’s Degree        : Pondicherry University

Master’s Degree           :  University of Southern Queensland, Australia

 

[ Q ] Would you advice younger people to join in your industry ?

Yes, for sure. If you have a natural tendency to observe and analyze people, the constant need to know what makes people ‘tick’, then this industry is for you. That put together with making products to meet the needs of these people / consumers, gives you perfect training on starting your own business sometime down the lane.

[ Q ] What advice would you give to someone trying to get into the industry ?

Start young! It helps to know what you are good at and what your natural strengths are. Nothing like getting a head start in this really rigorous race.

You can get in touch with Sinatra at the link below :

On Facebook    : www.facebook.com/sinatracarneiro

Sinatra has been more than helpful with this initiative referring some friends as well. We will have mor interviews from the creative side in the coming few weeks. Your views as always are greatly appreciated. A big thanks to Sinatra for her insights and her time for the interview.

Inquisitive Interviews : Jobby Mathews Rajan – Market Research Manager

First of all thanks a lot for the overwhelming response to the feature Inquisitive Interviews. I am attempting to bring as many different professions into the interviews to give a better idea of what the jobs are like and if you would be able to work in that field, an interesting person to talk to. This week is the Interview of a person who is well known in Dubai, however his profession isn’t, today we talk to a Market Research Manager.

Inquisitive Interviews, the feature was born out of the requests by some of the students who read this blog, requesting information regarding careers. And with a view to help them make a better choice, I have started to feature various careers from different people, starting with people I know and hoping to slowly reach many different people. The Inquisitive Interviews feature would not only help the students reading the interview but also the interviewee providing them with some Online PR of sorts, the benefits of which I mentioned in another post earlier.

[ Q ] Tell us something about yourself ?

Yello Peeps, My name is Jobby Mathews Rajan, been converting sweat into money for 7+ years. Typically a Dubai boy and not at all confused about my Indian roots-actually I am so proud of it!! When I saw the first interview for the initiative been taken by Melvin to be able to guide the younger generation to a path less thorny, I was quite impressed. But not in a hundred years did I think I would in anyway be able to help, or to put it in a better way, never thought that I would be interviewed by this inquisitive lad. Anyways, here is a disclaimer: Anything mentioned here if by chance offends anybody, it was done with pure intentions in mind or intentionally. :P.

[ Q ] What do you Do for a living and Where ?

I work as the Market Research Manager for Gulf Warranties.

[ Q ] Is your job what you expected it to be ?

To be frank, I was just about confused like any other “normal” kid on what to do with my life after school. While there were the “ultra normal’ ones who used to start coaching themselves for the various entrance exams from 8th grade, unbelievable huh!!. However, since i had these complete set of ‘ultra normal’ friends and they knew what they wanted, I followed suit and decided to try my hand in Engineering. Days to months to years and I just saw myself such a misfit to the hard core techy side of things. I knew i had the caliber to speak and think out of the box, but not necessarily design a nuclear plant! To cut a long story short, I stumbled onto research and never looked back, and till this day hold no regret for change!

[ Q ] Is your salary what you expected it to be ?

Initially it is not the salary that drives you to a certain profession; it is the challenge that is right around the corner of the profession that pumps the adrenaline in you. But seriously, how many of us follow that, unfortunately not many. If you get into a job that is satisfying mentally you eventually end up acing at it, which follows up with the right remuneration. On the other hand you take a job just looking at the remuneration, I can guarantee it would not take much time for you to lose interest and finally suffer at work. And the answer to the question is ‘Yes’!

[ Q ] What is your average day like ?

Average day at work, would include drinking tons of tea, responding to emails based on priority and definitely catching up with my colleagues on “what’s up” in their lives. Did I hear a smirk, seriously if you do not know your colleagues there is no way you could work under the same roof. You could be the head of the company but having a personal interface with each of the staff is a quality acquired by the greatest of leaders. However a cautionary warning, out of the supposedly 8 hour work regulation an hour to catch up is good enough. Anything more than that, you should try just sitting at home.

[ Q ] What’s the most interesting part of your job ?

I handle the non-warranty side of the business for the company, which includes markets research, mystery shopping, brand awareness, customer satisfaction surveys etc. Majority of the work other than client servicing is recruiting serious mystery shoppers that too around 29 cities across the Middle East, Asia and Africa. My team and I are quite trained now to gauge which shoppers would meet our client requirement from the onset of our conversation. So in effect, you need to be as talkative as possible; if you need to fit into this role…Yea people do usually say I got a BIG mouth-in the positive sense.

[ Q ] What’s the most challenging part of your job ?

Since we work across countries and various nationalities during the course of the work, it is difficult to keep a track on what exactly is going around in their particular city. For example, if my client has an urgent requirement on 1st of May, since UAE does not follow it, we end up working on the day, but other markets especially in Africa and Asia, they remain closed. Thus, not being able to deliver based on our client needs. And of course there are other common challenges like trying to ensure the budget never gets overshot, overwork with limited resources, come in on time yet leave late!!

[ Q ] What’s the part of the job that you don’t like ?

I still remember my folks working a straight 8 hour shift and then they have enough time to be back with family. However, nowadays the competition is so stiff, that if an employee does not put in at least 15+ hours a day (keep in mind no-overtime!) they might just not impress the management. And our social networking sites definitely help us in ensuring we work 15+ hours everyday, Right? I hate it, when certain people thing, a person who puts more than 8 hours of work is far more productive. I would say unless you are under resourced (which the management can see clearly), 8 hours is way enough if you plan your work schedule. Distractions like FB, Twitter, personal mails etc. are definitely deterrents that stops you from working within those 8 hours. FYI, I do work more than 8 hours, but I would blame it on being under resourced.

[ Q ] Do you get bored at your workplace at all ?

Humm, very rarely, that is when work is less. However, I am in love with Google, and would not know what to do, if it was not invented. A research person’s bible is the Google. For anything and everything we head to Google, to keep us updated on any new methodology, analysis, sourcing of facts and figures. As long as Google is around, there is no chance in the world anybody would be bored.

[ Q ] Do you report to someone ? How much of an impact the person you report to has on your job ?

I report to the GM of the company. The GM is there to ensure I do not cross the budget allocated and stick to my budget commitments for the year.

[ Q ] Do you use all the skills that you learnt in school / college ? or where did you pick up the skills ?

I would say 40% of the skills sets are picked up in Schools and Colleges which is related to Academia.  While 30% would be skill sets picked with your interaction with people around you and finally the rest 30% within your work atmosphere. No one is born with skills, you hone it as you grow.

[ Q ] What’s your Alumni ? Where have you studied ?

Schooling                     : The Indian High School, Dubai

Pre University               : The Indian High School, Dubai

Bachelor’s Degree        : Bachelor of Engg. (Electronics & Comm) Banagalore University, Bangalore, Karnataka

[ Q ] Would you advice younger people to join in your industry ?

Definitely, it is an industry, that makes all other industry stop and listen to you. It requires an analytical head and enough creative juices to think out of the box. MR(Market Research) is the base for anything that exist in this world. Without proper research, no new product would be launched, no one would understand the feasibility of any service, basically only people who are ignorant would not undertake MR before commencing with any decision that requires investment.

[ Q ] What advice would you give to someone trying to get into the industry ?

A basic commerce or business degree would suffice to start with. Market research can only be learnt and understood in detail once you work with a reputable MR agency. Reading from books and online sites holds good when you can implement what you did academically on to the real world.

[ Q ] Anything else you want to tell the readers ?

Google is your bible and Wikipedia your cheat sheet, use it extensively. It might be simple, but if you can master the art of searching on Google, you have completed 50% of your skills sets. The only time I have taken a pen in my hand is for signatures, therefore being computer literate especially MS-office literate is quite important, if you ace in it, you have crossed another 25%. A good active lifestyle and eagerness to learn and know more would have just topped you into a 100% MR person.  All the best and do contact me for any consultation.

[ Q ] Any online resources you recommend for people taking up this profession ?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Market_research

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mystery_shopping

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marketing_research

(this details the different kind of methodologies in MR)

You can get in touch with Jobby at the link below :

On Linked In    : http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=44939812&trk=tab_pro

A big thanks to Jobby for this interview. I have to let you in on a secret, ever since this section has started, Jobby’s interview has been requested by a few readers. So well this is for all you guys, you know who you are.