Mr. MVS Murthy, one of the leading Business Leader and Head Marketing, Digital & Corporate Communications, TATA Mutual Fund, in a candid discussion with our editorial team.
Q1. Hello MVS thank you for your time, our readers would like to know how has been your journey so far working with some of the top brands like ICICI Bank, Edelweiss Broking and now TATA Mutual Fund? What are some of the key learning’s for you?
It’s been over two decades that I have been traversing the BSFI landscape. The switch to the client’s side was a conscious one from advertising where I began my career. In fact, I was the first digital marketing manager recruited by ICICI Bank for their Retail Liabilities Group. This was in mid-2000. Since then I have had multiple progressive roles across acquisition of savings accounts, cross-sell and Enhancing Relationship Value, Key Corporate Salary Account Management etc. These I would say were in the product sales and B2B relationship enhancement areas.
The 2.0 version was in the space of running the marketing, product and portfolio piece for the Privilege Banking Vertical being set up by the bank. It was a huge learning as we were strengthening the Liabilities franchise by improving the relationship and the channel (branch and digital) experience. It’s not very often in a large sized listed company, that you get to be a part of a business from scratch and are a part of the core team. And mind you we scaled it up to make it a core proposition that still exists at the bank.
The subsequent roles were to run the Marketing function for a broking company, a general insurance company and now an AMC. In these roles I have particularly enjoyed my stints with The TATA Group - this one is the 2nd stint, and, I am fortunate to work with a Maximum Gravitas Brand. It not just the scale of business but the halo of the Group, you feel accountable and responsible for. In any role that one plays one wants to add to its sheen.
In these years I have learnt to innovate, experiment, build to scale and leave a model that gets better with time. The next set of people donning and manning it will definitely make it better. Each of my roles gave me mentors and opportunities to be able to articulate this deeply personal learning.
Q2. While you have worked with some of the top brands and helped them grow however you also have rich experience of working as Start up Co-Founder. How was your journey as a Co-Founder?
Co-Founding India’s earliest Enterprise Collaboration start-ups was a very exciting time. It was an innovative product with secure chat for companies, integration with Google maps to manage travel, attendance, conveyance reimbursement, etc and a collaborative platform with remote working capabilities. This was 5 years back.
Entrepreneurs are fearless to venture out to pitch to everyone and anyone of consequence. They don’t like hierarchical barriers as they understand the value they bring to the business from a C-Suite level downwards, particularly in a B2B or enterprise business. Even now when I recall my client check-list the CXOs of the top 10 companies in at least 3-5 of the crucial industry verticals of the country including the BFSI space would have either of us Founders’ visiting cards.
The two aspects I was conscious about were - Opening the funnel is critical. And always be OOOCP - Out of Office at Clients Place.
Q3. What would be your advice to entrepreneurs who want to take plunge and set up their own business?
More than advice there are a few realizations. When you look at a perspective of setting up an organization:-
1. Not everyone goes entrepreneurial, but a stint of this kind makes you more focused on “ go-live dates “ , sharpens the execution focus and gives a broader view of what drives your own team and the dynamics of the client business. It helps you become more agile and less dependent on hierarchical grace. DIY - Do It Yourself is the mantra for growth and success.
2. Managing time is important, which meetings to attend which to skip, staying course of the agenda and leading it to a productive next steps is crucial. Unlike corporates where one works, the most precious currency for a start-up is time. It’s loss can have a dominos effect on revenues, funding, ability to manage and hire talent.
3. There is no next FY visibility. “Let’s look at the P&L” is an everyday way of life.
When viewed from a “Core Proposition lens”
1. Innovations need tail winds of serendipity, for it to scale. So one needs a little bit of magic to also play its role for an entrepreneur - Covid came half a decade later and created a social divide to push us to work remotely.
2. The Customer doesn’t know, but will understand reason, purpose and impact of the purchase decision. You must lead to give confidence and repose faith by delivering superior Customer Value.
3. Till it’s not signed up, it’s still a pitch. Keep the faith and hold the spirits - of both kinds, a little longer.
Q4. What are some of your observations for the current crisis of Covid 19?
My personal belief is that every individual, home, organisation and the extended social ecosystem has surmounted the pain and adapted wonderfully. Some suppressed pain, some overcame grief of loss, and some have managed to stay out of sight of the stealthy pandemic which touched the remotest parts of the world all at the same time.
We have learnt to stay remotely together. Digital has been the conveyor belt keeping things in motion. The consequence is that it made work more agile and relentless in many ways. Families had to accommodate the extended busyness of workdays spilling into holidays too.
I also feel that children were most affected by this distancing and lack of interactions. Also the nuclear families felt the strain of managing work and home in the abscence of support staff. Either of the genders who actively participate in everyday running of the house were equally affected on both fronts - work / home. I would want to believe this latent stress also brought us together.
Q5. What could be some of the key challenges and opportunities for the industry in post-Covid era?
The challenge is break down the present cold fluidity to the old world charm of travelling to work, catching up with colleagues over a cup of coffee, having breaks between meetings and leaving the home wear for work wear.
The pandemic could have taken out quite a few roles and locations due to the remote boxing of the work force. As the vaccine plays out and we watch out for strains, it will take us almost couple of years to assess the complete extent of this disruptive reboot. This is my view and not an opinion of good or bad.
Besides, remote working will need higher empathy, less of second guessing intent and forming of perceptions. For each of us has unique lives and circumstances and it’s an illness with is stealthy and deathly. Stark, unforgiving and real. Hence, care will need to become the gluing force.
Q6. What are your key focus areas for 2021?
It’s an exciting financial year on the horizon. The Budget 2021 has set the pace for business, the economy and the markets.
We would want to use these propellers to add to the funds we manage, strengthen our channel partnerships, leverage technology for stronger B2B, B2B2C and B2B business models. We would want to use technology for creating all round ease of doing business with our AMC.
From a communication perspective we will return and pick up the threads on the ATL story and strengthen the DTL - digital business models. The ambition is to get investors to feel a tug for our brand and allow them to choose any route of convenience to repose their faith and trust in our investing approach.
It’s going to be one of the most exciting times we have seen as a nation. My belief is our resilience will make us the most attractive nations to do business with and business in.
Q7. What would make a successful marketing professional what is your mantra for Success?
Marketers are innovators, they are the most optimistic believers and they need to be tireless – there will be more failures than successes. However every success will have a pan-organisation impact.
Be curious like a child and ready to strike a conversation on any topic with anyone. The immersion in culture, habits, consumption and driving forces of markets come from these chit-chats.
One must actively cross-pollinate learnings from other industries, and try experimenting, it would well end up creating an totally new and successful business approach for the organization.
Marketers carry the onus of creating ripples of excitement. The times don’t come with excitement stamped on it, you stamp time it as exciting. Marketing makes the mundane, meritorious by sprucing things up for bringing in excitement in the ho-hum lives of Consumers of Brands.
Nothing ventured nothing gained. Like in a jungle safari, however tired you must be of the previous night, wake up and get out. The comfort is not in easing the fatigue but out there in the drama of light and shadow. And when you end up seeing that elusive beast you are trailing it’s a euphoric moment for everyone. Success feels like that – sweat, dust, fatigue and a fab picture!
Q8. What would be your advice to young budding talent in the marketing field?
Ask yourself - What aspect of Business are you impacting, measure it and have it evaluated by your Seniors. It begins as a Service Function and the greatest service that Marketing can do is to influence Consumers, Markets and eventually the top line of the company. The transformation of into a core business function is where it leads up to. Effort is good. Impact is defining.
Caterpillar needs to become a Butterfly.
Q9. While you are a role model for a lot of young professionals however who are your role models or leaders who have inspired you over the period of time?
Let me be honest I am NO ROLE MODEL - long, long way to go.
My late father always inspired me by his simplicity and ability to adapt into any circumstance. He never believed in lack and always said “ we are all together that’s the best part and nothing can go wrong” . He always encouraged my Mother and Sister to be financially independent. His belief was that what we achieved was because of my Mother’s educational and professional progress. She was a teacher and they ensured we got good to education. It was a very very humble but a never complaining upbringing.
And it did not stop there, he was very proud and encouraging of my wife’s progress, career, pregnancy sabbatical, getting back to work, working overseas and being a significant influence on the family she and me built. They were best of pals.
His own tryst with Cancer was absolutely dignified, never did he complain why me. All he did was, to encourage the family by “ showing off” how he can walk, sit-up and eventually just snap different fingers lying down, while the illness which came out of the blue, got him immobile and eventually mowed him down.
In my belief system “ He was the best!” And not because he is was my Daddy, he was everyone’s “ Buddy “
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