Inquisitive Interviews : Sowmya Suryanarayanan – Research Analyst

After a bit of a break, for this feature Inquisitive Interviews is back. This week we feature one of the most interesting professions yet, Research Analyst, specially someone that will have a bearing on the outcome of the bilateral ties of two countries. Someone in fact that can help definitely make a change. A research analyst would quite literally do the ground work and research and come up with relevant policies that help in the formation of a new agreement in between 2 countries.

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 interviewees providing them with some Online PR of sorts, the benefits of which I mentioned in another post earlier.

[Q] Tell us something about yourself- where you live, work, your interests…?

I work with a policy think tank called Strategic Foresight Group, which is based in Mumbai, India.  I write in-depth research reports on various development-related issues in South Asian countries, more specifically on Bangladesh and India.

Interests include reading, trekking, exploring new places and watching cricket.

[Q] What is your average day like at work?

My average day at work consists of reading opinion pieces and news reports on Bangladesh and India. Monitoring and analyzing emerging trends in both the countries. There are no daily deadlines to meet but there are project specific deadlines.

[Q] Is this job what you had pictured to be? If yes, then how long did you take to get here?

Yes, most definitely.

After I completed my Masters, it took me three years of whining, two odd jobs and a dear friend’s nudge to get here.

[Q] What’s the most interesting part of your job? Do you get bored at your workplace?

The most interesting part of my job is to study how similar issues affect poor people across South Asia and to identify different approaches to study a specific problem.

Hmmm..actually, I don’t get bored at my work place. I enjoy doing my job. And I work with a dynamic team and there is constant interaction and discussion taking place.

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

Not to have bias while analyzing issues.

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

Yes, I do report to the Executive Director of my organization. Her opinion has a direct bearing on my work.

[Q] Do you use skills that you learnt in school /college? Did you take up any specific training or courses?

I have a background in Economics, and that has definitely helped in doing my job better. No, I did not take up any specific courses. I developed my analytical skills on the job.

[Q] Would you advice younger people to join in your industry? As in what you think are the limitations / drawbacks on the industry ?

At the entry level, the salary could be low, especially in India. So you must pursue it only if you are interested in research. And it is a long term commitment.

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

Keep yourself updated with current events. Read editorial and analytical pieces in newspapers to start with. Develop a basic writing skill. A social science degree will definitely increase your prospects of getting a job in the industry. But it is not a must.

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

In terms of ‘job search’, you can check out http://www.devnetjobs.org/

There is no specific online material that you can read to get a job in this sector. However, there are various journal articles available online. You can read them based on your area of interest.

You can get in touch with Sowmya through :

Facebook: facebook.com/sowmya.suryanarayanan

Thank you Soumya for an interesting Interview. I need to note that Sowmya has been really busy with work, and I am thankful that she could really help out with some time of her’s. Thanks again Sowmya.

Be Inquisitive.

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.