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‘Sales and marketing are more than mere departments or functions’

Accountability, moral responsibility, and rewards are all interlinked when it comes to this profession, says an Apeejay alumnus



Avneesh Bansal is a seasoned marketing and sales professional with a vast array of experience. Throughout his career, he has traversed multiple industries, from textiles to retail and media. Working as the head of marketing-business development for India and Asia, Edelmann Packaging, at present, the alumnus of Apeejay Institute of Management and Technical Campus (AIMETC) tells us more about his experiences, the changing corporate landscape, and more:

How did AIMETC shape you for your professional journey?

I was a novice when I joined Apeejay after completing my graduation in Commerce. The institute turned me into a thorough management professional. The training I received during my MBA days proved to be fruitful. I landed a summer training opportunity with Vardhman Textiles. I was also able to do one or two ad-hoc assignments with Mudra Communications. Overall, it was a very versatile experience in terms of the professional grooming offered by the college. At the same time, I was able to rub shoulders with some of the top academicians, including Dr Nagpal, the then director of AIMETC. Apart from that, we had faculty members from local universities. The professors were very hardworking and worked shoulder-to-shoulder with the students to help them learn.

Also Read: ‘Meet the CEO’: Students learn about ‘experiential marketing’ from industry expert

Looking back, how would you describe your two-decade-long professional odyssey?

Life is a journey. It is not about reaching a milestone or a goal. You keep pushing yourself forward and improving as you move ahead. I would not say I have “accomplished” because I am still learning even after 23 years of professional experience. Sales and Marketing are like the blood of an organisation; they are revenue generators and play a significant role in building an organisation.

I have been fortunate enough to test my skills across about five industries. My first stint was with the FMCG industry when I joined Bakemans Industries Ltd. In the textile industry, I worked with Vardhman Textiles, after which I moved to Trident Group India where I headed domestic marketing. In the wake of a boom in the retail industry, I was inducted as the head of northern India for Reliance Retail. Eventually, I entered into media when I joined HT Media Ltd, which was a completely different experience. From there I moved to the healthcare sector as a national head for corporate sales at Fortis Group.

After this, I shifted base to Dubai where I worked with one of the most respected telecom companies in the UAE region. In 2019, I returned to India with a desire to try my hands at something of my own which led me to start my entrepreneurial venture SBSSdigital. Sadly, COVID-19 hit soon and all plans went in vain.

At Edelmann, I am heading sales for India and Asia in packaging which is much in demand these days. The journey here has been quite rewarding.

In the course of my career, I have interacted with some of the finest leaders of the time. I must give credit to some of the finest people I have worked with because a leader is successful only when his or her team produces the desired results. Without the guidance of my seniors and the support of my team, I would have probably not made it this far.

Since you have worked overseas too, how would you compare the work culture there versus that in India?

The work culture outside India exhibits professionalism. People value their work without which they will not be able to sustain themselves. They are clear about their goals. In India, I think there is a sense of volatility — we tend to deploy people in multiple domains. In terms of professionalism, we are still evolving. Academic institutes play a large role in creating industry-ready individuals so that students end up being very good professionals.  

 Would you say there has been some improvement in recent times?

With the advent of social media, people now have access to all the global developments. They also have a chance to connect with international professionals. With India being a hotbed for global organisations, people have been able to get more exposure via intermixing and interchange of talent. The situation is definitely changing and at a fast pace. But it will take some more time for a complete overhaul of the work culture.

In the age of digital marketing, how rapidly are companies adapting to the change and undergoing a digital transformation?

The current times are of extreme competition. In the age of digital marketing, any consumer can reach out to a brand directly or even the managing authorities just by commenting on a social media post. The companies, therefore, have to rise to the occasion and be equally responsive. Most Indian organisations have understood the power of social media and they are adopting it very quickly.  

Digital is the medium to be in at a time when the pattern of content consumption has also witnessed a change — today, each of us watches content on our personal devices like mobile phones or iPads. From a marketing perspective, it is very important to be where your audience is. Most of the consumer-driven brands have realised it and are adapting to the digital ecosystem.

However, this trend also poses challenges, especially for SMEs, which may not have the acumen or financial bandwidth to invest heavily in digital marketing. It also poses a challenge to that particular talent who has been involved in traditional marketing for decades and is unable to adapt to the changing landscape.

While there are challenges, there are undoubtedly a lot of opportunities too. My advice to all is that you should adapt to change in order to lead the curve.

Sales and marketing as a profession is known to be stressful. Any words of advice for Apeejay aspirants?

Stress is part of life. It is related more to human behaviour rather than a profession. I would extend my best wishes to students aspiring to become marketers. It is a wonderful career to pursue. But you need to take ownership and moral responsibility because you are the one who is going out into the market to get money for all the other support functions. It is much more than just a department or a function. It is a very rewarding career also. There are variable pay and incentives linked to a sales profile. So, the people who have the desired capability should definitely pursue it.

Disha Roy Choudhury is a Principal Correspondent at Apeejay Newsroom. She has worked as a journalist at different media organisations. She is also passionate about music and has participated in reality shows.

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