I was born and raised in London as the middle-child in a relatively modern Indian household. I jumped through the regular hoops of school, completing GCSEs, A-levels but randomly side-stepped into fashion marketing for 6 months – studying in New York's Fashion Institute of Technology and then somehow found my way to Manchester University (UMIST) to complete a degree in Mathematics and Management. And all of that led me to a career in advertising.
I've worked in 'Integrated' agencies throughout my career being responsible for handling all sorts of big budget brand accounts in the automotive, financial and telecoms sectors. After a 7-month backpacking round the world, I was reluctant to come home and continue to help make rich companies richer. I'm a cliché I know! Then, just like magic, a friend recommended me for a great position at the only integrated charity marketing agency out there, The (aptly named) Good Agency, working on the UK's leading charity, Cancer Research UK. I jumped at the chance to try my hand at being a do-gooder and have never looked back.
Where and when did you start your career in advertising and marketing?
Guess it actually started when I became a student brand manager for BT Genie (now O2) when I was still at uni in Manchester. I did it to make some money and get free travel back to London so let's be honest, I didn't take it that seriously. That said it was one of the things that stood out the most in my first industry interviews getting my foot in the door as an Account Executive in 2002.
How did you get your job?
A really good recruitment agent who I used for my first two major agency roles.
Your proudest moment so far?
This is definitely my luckiest if not proudest moment so far - getting to a point in my career where I could just quit, go travelling round the world with my husband for 7 months and be guaranteed a new job and a pay rise on my return.
What's the best thing you've worked on?
NHS Smokefree is the one account I've enjoyed working on the most so far. Working on behaviour change campaigns as opposed to flogging stuff has put the power of communications on another level for me. That's probably why I've ended up working with charities now. Working with a brave client that 'gets it' is always rewarding.
Your favourite brand and why?
Recently I've been reminded why I love Lucozade. It was a childhood favourite, with Linford Christie promoting it as the drink of champions - but so many brands that were popular in the 90s have tried to make a nostalgic comeback and failed. Lucozade's celebration of YES Moments has succeeded in making the brand as relevant and empowering as it has always been if not more.
What websites/magazines/advertising campaigns would you recommend to an aspiring student?
I've never stopped reading Campaign and browsing through Brand Republic's blog via linkedin but these days the more relevant newsletters are from sites like the The Future Laboratory. The one site that helps me with everything from sprucing up presentations to helping me push creative boundaries further is thecoolhunter.co.uk. If you're looking to get into charity marketing The Agitator and Sofii are a must.
Where do you look for inspiration?
FFFFound, The Cool Hunter and The Future Laboratory for trends and ideas when I'm stuck, but the best ideas come when you've got someone opinionated to bounce them off. Start with a blank sheet of A3 paper and just chat and scribble.
Who's had the biggest influence on your career?
I wouldn't usually admit this but it's definitely my husband Amit. I knew him well before I got into the industry so he knows why I do what I do, he knows when I'm loving it and what to do and say when I'm not.
What did you really want to be when you grew up?
Maybe it was too much TV but I always wanted to make ads.
Where would you like to be in the future?
Happy juggling a family and a creative business.
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