Shreya talks about how she traced her path to being a creative strategist at TikTok. Born and raised in Delhi, Shreya has had a very immersive experience in the digital marketing space and has thoroughly enjoyed it. Not only is Shreya brilliant in her professional life but she also is an excellent baker and is on a mission to give Carrot cake the due it deserves. If this has intrigued you then tune into the episode to know more about Shreya and her journey.
Hey guys, a very, very warm welcome to another episode of people’s stories. Thank you so much for tuning in. Today we are going to talk about a profession, which is very, very relevant from today’s perspective. And this is a very exciting journey to take over in today’s time. And yes, I am talking about digital marketing. So did you know that according to a study, there are around 3.2 billion social media users who are active every day, which translates to about 42% of the population. And of course, having said these statistics you can imagine why each and every company in today’s time is wanting to move to a digital platform, because that’s how you want to market yourself right? So this particular episode is entirely dedicated to understanding every single thing about digital marketing, about what can you expect, about what is the plethora of opportunities, or the vastness of this particular field, What oil can you explore, and many more things. So without any further ado, let’s get right into the episode.
Hello, people. Welcome to people’s stories. Thank you so much for tuning in. I’m your host, Priyanka Ojha. And I hope you enjoyed the session.
Hey guys, welcome welcome again. Thank you so much for staying tuned. Before, we jump into the episode if in case you guys are interested to know about more career opportunities about what people exactly do or just behind the scenes of people’s stories, feel free to follow us on Instagram or just send me a Connect invite on LinkedIn.
Priyanka (Host): A very warm welcome to everybody. In today’s episode of people’s stories today we have Shreya Gulati. In the episode with us she is working as a creative strategist with bytedance which is the parent company of tik tok and has previous experience with with firms like Kalpataru or Jabon or a lot of other startups. she’s done her bachelor’s in design and Master’s in management so marketing so we are going to talk more about all of this stuff but at the beginning she I thank you so much for your time. Thank you for joining us.
Shreay(Guest): Thank you for inviting me Priyanka, I’m really happy to be here.
The pleasure is all mine. So she I have already introduced you from my side. So how would you introduce yourself? Or do you want to tell our audience about you?
I am a marketing professional, who’s obsessed with storytelling, and just obsessed with the kind of stories that people think upon. On a personal note, I hail from Delhi I did my education there then I lived in a couple of other cities. I love pets. I love babies, I can be your part time babysitter.
So where are you? Where are you based out of right now? Shreya?
Right now I’m living in Delhi, at my home. I spent two years in Bombay the last year during the pandemic the onset of the pandemic.
Okay, okay that’s nice you and and interesting to know that you also call it Bombay instead of Mumbai!
No I can’t just yeah..get myself to say Mumbai
hmm! Okay, and she so what what do you do in your when you’re not working?
You can find me consuming content. I think I have a problem I consume way too much content. You can find me baking a cake.
Oh, wow. Okay, what’s your favorite flavor of cakes?
I personally enjoy chocolate cakes the most but I think what makes the best is a good carrot cake.
Carrot Cake! I had my first carrot cake when I was when I came here to Germany and I was like, blown away it was so nice whoever whoever is listening to this and has not tried please either contact Shreya she might probably bake something for you or get to a CCD Do you and and have it it’s it’s really nice.
So let’s let’s get to your to your professional life and to your to what you would do on a regular basis. Those kinds of stuff. So tell me from the beginning, where does your education start? What are your bachelor’s? What are your masters? What did you study and how did you get into creative strategist area like what does it mean?
Sure love talking about myself. So I was always creatively inclined. And I grew up in a family which was fixated on the idea that engineering will change your life.
back then I did not subscribed to this idea, now, I have much more respect for engineers, because I understand what they do better. So I, but back then I wanted to do something other than engineering, which apparently wanted to go against the cliched middle class dream of the early 2000s. So, I was exploring a couple of options, I realized that I was the two I could write decently. So I wanted to do something in that field, I thought fashion communication also doing something like that make more sense to me.
Looking at all the options, I had wrt to colleges, NIFT, seem like a good option. I got into nift I so ,I got into suppose textile design, but I wanted to do fashion.
Let’s give it the shot. And I’m sure I’ll be able to figure out my way after that. So I started Excel design. then, when I was doing my internship, I was just wanting to do a good internship, we have a project in that. So I joined a start up which was which is which is a concept brand movie merchandise and Punjab inspired mostly. So away caught there. This used to be a design internship. But I ended up doing a lot of content for their I curated in art exhibition for them, of ahh I worked for a coffee table to them. And I was a media, Econ, website content, everything. So PR also, so I realized that my interest is there my strength lies there. And this is something that I strongly believe in.
While it’s great to follow you interest, it’s, it’s important to follow your strengths, because it sort of makes your life a little easier. Because you want to be rewarded, you want to feel validated, and you want to be somewhat successful in life, and doing what you’re good at really helps in that.
So then I consciously made efforts to pursue a career in wrting. Until then, I was doing content writing, and this was 2013- 14. So most of the opportunities in the writing space were in digital marketing. That is how I got introduced to digital marketing. At first it looked very boring, it did not excite me. But the more I got into the deeper I got into it, the better it seemed.
And then I was all that I was I was completely nerding it out. And I wanted more about SEO and really decorative stuff. Also our to do more about website designing. So after that, after a while after that, I worked for a good year and a half in digital marketing. And in content marketing primarily.
I realize it makes a lot of sense to do MBA, so that I can add give my career the kind of acceleration that it needs at the stage. I was lucky to get into this college, MICA in Ahmdabad.
went there, live the best two years of my life learned a lot in classes and outside of classes. I had pretty good peer to peer learning. After that, I worked with the real state company, they started promptly after I’d my MBA. This company was here I added performance marketing,
which was pretty great because it gives me a broader understanding of the business side of things. I was working on an Excel sheet the first time in my life, I was given targets with respect to leads or or bookings or revenue derived agenda. And I think it helped me close the loop, because until now I only understood that oh, this is a good ad film. Oh, this is good content. But now I understood the business, the business aspect of these things also. Then, last year, I think I got what I can call is closes to my dreams or is which is I ended up at the TikTok. I am and I’m here right now I am working as a creative strategist.
I help brands advertise on the TikTok. we call it we help transport the TikTok. And every day I work with new brands on new pitches and dealing with some very interesting people, getting inspired every day by the whole goal of so it’s been really great. And I think in between all of this there’s been a lot of freelancing work. I’ve just been experimenting with a lot of things I’ve worked with finance magazines, I’ve worked with ecommerce startups freelance to them work with a tech startups which has really helped me grow.
Okay. She so I am like I am a novice, you can say I do not know a single thing about digital marketing or marketing in general. And you will have to sort of educate me. So what is the primary difference between digital marketing and marketing?
Sure,marketing is, is an umbrella term for reaching out to customers, engaging with them, and convincing them to subscribe to your product service or idea. Digital Marketing is doing all of that through digital channels. And traditional marketing is reaching out to customers and interacting with them through traditional channels. So digital marketing governs everything you see a social media ad, an ad on Facebook, an twitter, an ad on Google, when you do a Google search, the kind of results that you get, sometimes when you’re reading a product, and there’s this brand plugging in that that is digital marketing. Traditional marketing is all your pamphlets, hoardings, TV, films, all of that is traditional marketing. I think digital marketing is also more if I’m getting technical about it. Digital marketing is also more measurable. It is more cost effective. The ad that is why becomes really good for small brands also. If today I start my own business, maybe a small Beijing studio, I cannot imagine doing an ad or TV film. Yeah, not be effective. And I don’t need to reach the entire country. But with the right digital campaign, with a small budget, also, I can really manage to make an impact on my audience. And help myself out.
yeah, that’s the that’s the whole point of I think that’s how digital marketing evolved in general, right? Because he wanted to have targeted targeted marketing and targeted sales with people… (and and more measurable also). Exactly. Yeah, sure. So let me let me tell you the the kind of picture I have, when I think about anybody who is a digital who is into digital marketing, for example, I would imagine that you would get a lot of data about people who are using social media platforms, probably about their typography, about what kind of, you know, population they belong to, and all of those kinds of stuff. And then you would want to do targeted marketing. So you would want to send targeted ads to those people based on that kind of data. From that perspective, I think you should be super good with numbers. And I also feel somebody who’s into digital migration be super good with creative creativity. So you should have that kind of mindset as well. Am I right? In thinking this? Or is it something different?
I think you have a pretty good understanding of digital marketing to somebody claiming to be novice. And you are spot on, you’re right about digital marketing being targeted, and the more cost effective, which is why, which is the number one reason why brands are preferring it over traditional marketing. And yes, we do have to deal with a lot of people, but and our jobs can be super creative.
Also, because the attention span of users or for people on the internet today is very less. So you need to make sure that whatever you’re trying to say comes across most impacts, which is where creative thinking becomes extremely important. But having said that, there are certain rules which require you to be both number driven and creative at the same time. But a lot of rules are such that require you to be either, okay, could just be doing a lot of number crunching, sitting on Excel, day in and day out. Or you could just be doing a lot of creative work and maybe churning out social media content.
So, the guys who are basically working on social media content, for example, they would be getting the input from somebody who is into number crunching, and then you would probably want to create stuff based on that input.
Yeah, absolutely. For all you they will be making memes through the day and that could be their job.
Okay. Sounds fun. So I mean, before before we dive a little deeper into understanding how your day looks like and what does a creative strategist exactly mean? Now this thing is coming to my mind. Think about data. And because we were talking about this so much in the past years, that years that companies are using our data which belongs to us in a way, which is not, you know, ethical and all all of those kinds of discussion, what do you have to say about it being from that industry itself?
Trust leadership, I will not be worried about even, I don’t know, a lot of confidential data we in the hands of somebody, but if I feel that that person can abuse that data, exactly. That’s, that’s the scarier part. Yeah. So for me personally, this is the this is the deal.
And I also feel that I know being anonymous cannot serve the purpose, because you definitely want to target it to those specific people. But if the company I mean, it also depends on how the companies are sharing that data with with whatever companies they are doing, and the fact that we should be aware about it, you know, I mean, yeah, or for just allowing this app to access your mic or camera, that if you’re just a little mindful about this is exactly here that could definitely do it.
Or the brighter side, I think nobody talks about it, the fact that the internet has a lot of data on you, it makes every experiences seamless for you from from making, from wave transactions. Yeah, just browsing for the right product. Sometimes it is feeling certain websites, or as a movie can be scary was also
seamless. Yeah. Yeah, no, it definitely does. Like, for example, all these apps which have sort of, for example, you can give these apps the permission to save your bank data. And then when you’re paying, you can just on a tap, you can pay everywhere. And you know, you can do all of those seamless stuff. That is definitely good. But having said that, that’s the kind of world we are living in. Right. So it’s not about one or two people. It’s about in general, what are people demanding and how things are moving ahead. So I think that’s the word we are absolutely right, this data can be misused. But I’m just, I just want to understand who has data. Perfect. So now let’s, let’s jump again, back to the main topic that we want to talk about. So I want to understand what does a creative strategist mean? And how does your work a typical workday look like? Sure, I think creative strategist is a designation given by companies with his manager and assistant managers to coding and we are, we are more than that. So basically, I belong to the marketing team of the top, I am not doing marketing for tiptoe, but I am doing marketing on. So any brand that wants to advertise,
we help them walk the talk of what a typical day in my life would say, I am always trying to understand the product. First, because it’s highly nuanced. I am trying to get insights about a brand about a category about a product.
I am really talking to people about it and reading case studies as to what is happening in this category, you will spend
time reading and rereading a brief a million times and collecting data on that, then I work on making presentation. And I think marketers end up
watch a lot of tic tocs because that’s a part of my job obligations. And yeah, and, of course, pitch to clients have meetings with clients with different stakeholders. Okay, so I will typically share what would you say are like the most important skill sets that you should have, if you want to get into digital marketing, for example, like inherently what should you have? Right? So I’ll answer this in two parts. One is that was the textbook answer that you read everywhere.
That is the always tell you that you should be able to think creatively, you should be able to derive insights, you should be able to
present your idea or present, articulate your rivals.
For me, personally, I see that people skills or your negotiation skills are extremely
apart from all of these that I mentioned. So if I’m trying to sell you something, it’s an idea that
I should be I should be very good at selling. I’m not a salesperson. Okay, so I mean
Would you say that anybody who has these qualities irrespective of whether you have that kind of educational background can get into marketing? Or do you also need a good educational background over there to be really good? You know, I mean, not just to survive in this industry? Yeah, of course I didn’t I pursue a lot of people who have started their agencies or brands, and
they are not qualified marketers, but they are thriving. I also know a lot of people from different fields, especially engineering, computer engineers understand tech fail. So they end up making a career in digital marketing,
phenomenal incidences for the first couple of years, actually, not even first couple of years throughout you learn every day we learn about something, but you can get the hang of it. It’s not. Okay. Okay, so is it usual for people to move from one particular area to the other area, like, let’s say from quanti, quantifying data to move into a totally creative role? Is that Is that normal?
Yeah, pretty normal. I think people do that all the time. Because, of course, I think as humans been told, to find our calling at the age of food, which is not exactly possible. So people are always discovering themselves. And like I said, I’ve seen people make 180 degree shifts in their career also, and this is a pretty lateral shift. So it’s very much possible. You may have to struggle with the degree, but the doable. Okay. Okay. I understood. Okay, so true. So, now let’s try to answer a little bit more about you about about you as a person, how do you how do you think in all of those kinds of stuff, and I see that you today, in the prep round that we had, I wanted to understand about an experience where you, you said you did not meet up your own expectations? And you’ve mentioned some some things about that. So do you want to talk about it, what what happened? Exactly?
Like I was telling you earlier, Priyanka, I feel that pilots great to follow your passion that that is what they always say in the books. But it’s also important to be cognizant of your strengths. So if you end up doing something that is aligned with your students end up striving that and you will design the restaurant.
And you will also get rewarded and successfully easier, which is sort of important to keep your motivation high.
So that way, I feel that I wish I could have done something about nift for somebody who’s wanting to make a career in the field of marketing, which is a very exciting field really lets you unleash your creativity and this the canvas is pretty wide as we discussed, you can start off by doing a course in Do you need to of course get pretty great marks for that are you there are other great options as well I think in India xaviers is a pretty great college nm is a really great college of Christ also has good exposure and opportunities, some biases, so these colleges give you a good Kickstart to sort of become good marketers, and you could be some very recent college and still get the best rank and get the inside that college but I think in terms of the kind of exposure you get, which is also extremely underrated, and colleges a lot about that is not as much about you know, your assignments in classes. I mean, that is also an important part of it, but it’s about exposure. So getting the getting the kind of right kind of opportunities in regards to extracurriculars this becomes these become the key talking points in your interviews also say that Liz these qualities are
okay, okay. Yeah, makes sense. Of course. Yeah. And so she I tell me one more thing about about your job about your work life in general, do you get like a lot of time off your work to sort of maintain your work life balance? Or have you sort of, you know, try to balance both things together. It’s not like a specific dividing line between work and life. It’s like sort of overlapping
honesty regarding I’m the wrong person to be asked this question because I’m somebody who really enjoys work, and when I’m enjoying it, I don’t really feel the need to find a work life balance. Having said that,
I feel it can be hectic job on for various tools for various companies. Sometimes their timings are restrictive. But if you, if you again, if you’re enjoying it, you will see it. And I have personally found the time to do everything else that I wanted to also with while working for the university as well. So it’s really about that i and, and a lot of brands, a lot of agencies also the flexibility to vote as for you. So for example, when I was working at vitals and services in global markets, so my days were start need, I would probably have a first call at it.
But I could, I could take it easy during the day. So that is I think I think you have the right manage cultures
definitely work around. Exactly. The work life balances. Yeah, and I mean, I’ve also heard from a lot of other people as well that generally people who are into, let’s say, creative kind of jobs, they generally would not have like a specific, like, they might not follow the conventional nine to five, work life.
Exactly, it could be different. And then you have your own zone, maybe you are in that zone right now, where you are, you know, your creative mind is working to get out of it. For sure. If ad agencies especially advertising agencies are notorious for it, they say that if you want work life balance, you should never don’t.
Which is somewhat true, true also, but even then people are talking there. If you are in the right life stage, I think it is your two cents. And I feel that the definition of a balance is really blurred in today’s day and age when we go from your phone or from anywhere. Yeah, has really taught us that. Absolutely. I mean, I also feel like things like work life balance, they sort of trickle down from the top. So it’s very much it’s very, very interesting how the top management or the organizational culture is based on quintic I would actually enjoy the work if you feel that drive. And if you’re working the right culture, culture is extremely important for taking in organizational takeaway want to work, I feel it will really determine the seat of your excused
you will be able to work around that too much work or to listen work issue. Yeah. And, and that also our phases right share. So it’s like sometime you might have like more work, sometimes you might have lesser work. And if that’s the case, I mean, if it’s on and off, it’s fine. But if on an average you are you’re supposed to work like too much, and you’re not able to find out time for your personal life. Because of course everybody wants to, you know, do other stuff as well. And eventually you are earning because you wanted to, to, to live a nice lifestyle. And I didn’t feel good about your career until maybe would you have kids and you want to spend time with them you feel were driven by the need to learn. And that really becomes the deciding factor for you when you end up having that drive to really spend all those mad hours at work. Also, I it’s kind of I don’t know if it’s sad to see this. But it we’re all slaves of capitalism, still, in a sense that I don’t know, I can’t imagine life without work, or I can’t imagine a conversation without thinking of
so so maybe if I have too much freedom. I don’t know what I do at that time. I can’t imagine that scenario where I work from 10 to five, and then I forget about.
Yeah, I mean,
I was living a similar kind of life when I was in India. And at that point of time work was was honestly every single thing for me, like I was attending calls, even at 9pm in the night and probably texting even at 11:00 pm because I don’t know somebody was supposed to send something somewhere and those kinds of stuff. But I have honestly noticed this this here in Germany in Europe, specially that people are very, very picky about that after office hours. And there are like certain countries who have these kind of restrictions that the companies cannot send email after let’s say 8pm in the night or you cannot have any kind of work related conversation over the weekend. You cannot do that. But having said that, I mean, I think this is one of the biggest issues companies are trying to solve solve at the moment because everybody has become so approachable. It’s like everybody is available all the time because now you have your phones. You
Have your tab laptop, whatever you can work from home, you are expected sort of to be able to be available when needed. But it’s a very thin line, you know, it’s a very thin line. And it should it’s very dependent on the person. So if the person is does not have any issue with it, it’s totally fine. But if they have issue with it, then then that should also be fine.
Yeah, which is why one equation of culture comes into picture that your organization should be so mean understanding. And often there are, while there are a lot of toxic companies out there, there are a lot of understanding company knows. So they would understand if you need a break off just because your mental health is not allowing you to work in your best element. And they would understand if you need to take it slow right now. Yeah. You’re in India? Yeah. Yeah, I think it will, it will, it is evolving. And it will keep evolving. Because of course, as a lot of globalization, a lot of knowledge or transfer your own knowledge flow everywhere. Everybody’s getting to what’s happening in other countries and continents.
So Shreya, tell me, what is that thing that sort of drives you? What what is it that you’re looking forward to, to sort of grow or to you know, get up every single day and, and do something in your life?
I go. I think it’s just a sheer enjoyment of working. And I feel that I’m somebody who’s driven more by everyday small wins than have big wins. At the end of the day. I don’t know if I say want to win an award.
Two years down the line, but I do know that you know, there’s a switch that I’m working on, and I want to crack, it will give you a lot of choice. So these these that everyday Smallville suppose is something that I’ve worked on getting conscious, and it has helped me also. So that is what it is. Yeah, it’s it’s very, very cool incidental, because I have been thinking about this thing for, I don’t know, maybe one or two weeks now, where I am constantly telling myself every day, okay, one step at a time, one day at a time. Because if you look at the larger picture, sometimes it can overwhelm you, because there are there is so much uncertainty, you cannot really decide a lot of stuff, right? So it’s better that you take one step at a time, and then you can put your effort at the right place. Because you know, that day is important for you. So if you put your effort the right place, I think it’s fine. Eventually it will, it will turn out to be something awesome. For sure in any lives who wants to live in, especially the times that we’re living in? And I really believe in the power of man proposes God disposes. So I feel that whole approach of long term goals.
I know you we’ve all grown up reading about that. And you’ve been asked in job interviews at the age of 21. Where do you see yourself 10 years down? Exactly. know if that
makes sense right now, because because life is changing at a pace that we can’t even imagine, right? We don’t even know what you’re chasing today will exist later. And that dream maybe when we realize it, it’s not it doesn’t feel good by the I’m sure it has happened to you. It has definitely happened. So so it’s better to take it one day at a time a small will take you can be live optimizing your writing a great copy or optimizing your Google campaign could be just yeah, goodwill for the day. Just add one thing. Yeah, yeah, definitely. And it’s actually a very good strategy. Like it has been taught in a lot of
self improvement books, and I don’t know videos everywhere that you should just take one day at a time that will make your life much more easier.
Yeah, so I think I what I started doing when I was feeling really hassled at work is that I started getting this I had a proper diary cabinets to me, I would make Listen, at the end of each day, I would strike items off the list. And it was therapeutic. It made me feel good about the day that I had spent. Yeah. Yeah. And I mean, I also feel that when you don’t have this kind of you don’t either either you write it down, like physically write it down, or you have it in your head and you’re trying to sort of check some stuff that okay, I’ve done this. If you look at your week, and you cannot tell every single day, what is the thing that you did? You will feel like okay, I did not do anything specific, but if you start writing it down, you would know that okay, I did so much in this particular week. So it could be a good practice for a lot of people, especially a last ad. I mean towards the end. I want to
Take a last piece of advice from you that you would want to share with our listeners from your personal experiences or Yeah, from from the life that you have led to now, what would you want to say?
Sure, I think it’s very interesting that I’m giving you advice, because usually, I’m the person who’s always seeking advice to people, by the I have to see something, I see a couple of things. First of all, though, you need to be good people’s person for whatever work you’re doing, I do have a job where and thrive without having good collaborators. So make sure a lot of jobs are essentially just managing people. So make sure you do that. And
to be, of course, for a career in digital marketing, marketing,
good stuff. And lastly, I think, whatever you doing in Siri, while there’s a lot of help,
it really helps to have a one on one conversation with people take that advice, stop and reflect on that. That sort of stuff really puts things in perspective.
It could be career advice, or it could be work related advice.
Yeah, I mean, I totally agree with every single thing that you say. And I also am a very big fan of having like,
a personal, you know, a person you can go and talk to it could it could be a mentor, it could be a counselor, it could be your parents, whoever it could be a friend. And it could also be possible that you do don’t really get an advice from them. You just want to go and you know, talk to somebody. I think sometimes just doing that also helps. Yeah, of course. And it’s all just two big questions. A what should you do this your career? But even if, say I have to work on a pitch, and I have four ideas to present, yeah, if I just articulate it to someone, and then maybe I’ll end up questions. Correct? Yeah, having that conversation really helps. Yeah, of course it does. Okay, perfect. Thank you so much. for your time. It was a wonderful conversation. Thank you so much for making me a little more educated about digital marketing.
Thank you so much. Hey, guys, thank you so much for tuning in. If in case you guys are interested in know more about different career opportunities, know about what people exactly do, how do they reach there, or are just interested in behind the scenes of people’s stories. Feel free to follow us on Instagram or send me a Connect invite on LinkedIn.