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‘This school never saw me as a person with a disability’

Apeejay School, Noida encouraged this student; he ended up taking part in different activities representing the school



We all remember our school days. The highs and the lows. The teachers whom we made fun of and the teachers whom we loved and revered. We remember the times we participated in an inter-school event and came out winners and the resounding welcome we got the next day when the principal announced our fete.

The good part is that despite decades, we still remember the fun we had in school and the friends we made – most of whom have become like family. There is a quote that says: Your school career is one of the only things in life where you join crying and leave crying. So, yes, many of us have amazing memories of our school days, and Sidhant Mohanty, an alumna of Apeejay School, Noida in Uttar Pradesh is no different.

In a candid interview, this senior manager-National Trade Marketing with AB InBev talks about his school days and how they shaped him into the person he is today.

 Tell us about yourself.

I am at present, working in Bengaluru. I work for a beverage company called AB InBev. I have been here since January 2023. Before this at was Manager (Team Lead)-Commercial at Diageo India and before that I was a management trainee

What is a typical day like for you?

A typical day for me is quite challenging as it involves adapting to different situations. For example, we’re at present, organising an event and learnt that the government imposed time and branding restrictions. We had to quickly rethink our branding strategy despite investing a significant amount in sponsorships. We also partner with sports leagues and music events. So, it’s about understanding various passion points and connecting with consumers through influencer marketing and other creative strategies.

You said this sector media-dark. How do you market in such a situation?

We employ surrogate marketing since we can’t directly use the brand of an alcohol company. Therefore, to market our products via what is called surrogate marketing. This involves using use our brand — an alcoholic drink — to run campaigns around the brand. We collaborate with influencers for campaigns like ‘Kings are made overnight with’…. and the name of our brand without ever mentioning that is an alcoholic beverage. We also partner with fans of football teams and encourage them to enjoy match days with the brand that we want to promote. We have similar strategies for music events, partnering with IPLs to promote our products. Through our campaigns, we cover three passion points: Sports, music, and lifestyle. Additionally, we run consumer promotions in the off-trade channel, offering multipack deals for events like the Premier League matches. We always adhere to the regulations and never directly promote alcohol.

Sidhant Mohanty, Alumna of Apeejay School, Noida

How did you end up working in this sector?

After I completed my schooling at Apeejay Noida, did my BCom (H) from Delhi University, Hansraj College. Once in college, I interned with big companies like KPMG and PwC. At PwC, I got an opportunity to work as a Transfer Pricing Analyst. So after Hansraj, I joined PwC for a year. Post that, I took the CAT exam and got into IIM Lucknow. Here I interned with Nestle. My interest in working in this field grew because all my clients at PwC were from the alcoholic beverage space.

Can you recall some fond school memories?

I joined this school in the nursery and passed out only after completing class XII. My school days were probably the best times of my life. The school helped shape me into the person I am today. I was a naughty child from nursery to class VIII if I recall correctly. I was decent in my studies. I was part of extracurricular activities – I played football, participated in quizzes by representing the school, and I was a class representative for two years. School life was a rollercoaster but it was a formative period for me.

How did the school inculcate values in you that are coming in handy in your professional journey?

The teachers all through extremely supportive. I was not very good at Math. During my Board exam, my teachers like Sonia ma’am were helpful. They told me to concentrate on my strengths and ensure that I sailed through Math. They sat me down and guided me on how to navigate this patch in my life. This lesson has stayed with me. Even today, I cash in on my strengths and sail through the other aspects of the work.

What kind of support did you get from the teachers at school?

I have a slight disability. But the teachers didn’t discourage me from taking part in any of the sports or other activities. It was just the opposite. They never saw me as a person with a disability. Apeejay helped me in this regard and I ended up taking part in the activities and representing the school.

Would you agree that school days are the best?

School days are the best. When you are in school you think college will be more exciting and you will have a great time. But now you are wiser and understand the value of school days. I remember getting up at 6 am, going to play football, and going to classes from 8 am. After school, I would stay back to practice for quizzes and get back home by 4 pm. Those were truly fun days!

Shalini is an Executive Editor with Apeejay Newsroom. With a PG Diploma in Business Management and Industrial Administration and an MA in Mass Communication, she was a former Associate Editor with News9live. She has worked on varied topics - from news-based to feature articles.