Be it generic product marketing, service marketing, or complex retail marketing roles, every marketer’s fundamentals remain the same – ‘create, manage, and enhance brands.’ 

In every marketing profession (and all the related career options), the primary job will be to understand the needs, choices, and constraints of your target audience to be at the top of the customers’ minds and gain the desired market share. However, the underlying structures, initiatives, and projects can be multiple orders of magnitude different across industries and companies.

As a result, a career in marketing is “surprisingly complex.” Thus, to help you build on marketing as a career, we reached out to Ms. Pavithra Rao, Head – Retail Marketing & Growth at WaterScience, for Naukri Learning’s exclusive Expert Interview Log – A day in life of a retail marketing head. Since WaterScience is a company based on a niche and innovative offering, we thought her perspective would be fairly unique.

She has over 8 years of experience across Consumer Durables & FMCG with a wide exposure across Brand Management, Consumer Insights, Market Research & Analytics, revenue management, New Product Development, Sales & Business Development. 

Naukri Learning Interview Log with A Day In Life of Retail Marketing Head – Pavithra Rao:

Through this interview, she shared her career journey with us and highlighted the in-demand qualitative and quantitative analytical skills, vision, and right direction to become a successful marketer. 

Let’s begin…

Share a brief introduction about your roles and responsibilities as a Marketing & Growth Strategist at WaterScience.

Ms. Rao – At WaterScience, I manage the Retail Sales Channel and Marketing. As WaterScience is a category creator in India, my role involves creating awareness about the category and the brand. As a young startup on a fast growth track, my responsibilities include ensuring:

  • Formulating a strong presence in supermarkets and hardware stores
  • Creating awareness and brand equity and ensuring Sales through digital and offline marketing. 

What does a day in your work life look like?

Ms. Rao – The day varies depending on the priorities of the week or month. A day could include conceptualizing campaigns, reviewing and modifying existing campaigns, monitoring the Retail expansion, speaking to offline partners for collaboration, brainstorming for ideas. 

A good part of my day would also be spent with the team in ensuring that they are on track to achieve their goals.

In the early stages of your career, how did you move from a technical role as a Programmer Analyst at Cognizant to a management role as a Market Intelligence Manager at Philips Lighting? 

Ms. Rao – My first role after Engineering was as a Programmer Analyst at Cognizant. However, my interest in Marketing as a career inspired me to pursue my MBA, and from there, my career headway began as I joined Philips Lighting during my campus placements. 

At Philips, I undertook various roles in Sales and Marketing:

  • Starting as a field sales manager
  • Becoming a product manager 
  • Back to Sales as a Regional Manager for the OEM division 
  • Further managing Market Intelligence for Philips Lighting 

The organization was flexible and gave me a lot of opportunities to gain skills across different roles. 

What are the most important skills you need to break into profiles like Brand Management,  Market Research & Analytics, Product Management, and Business Development?

Ms. Rao – While these are different roles with different responsibilities and expectations, a common thread across is ‘Customer/Consumer understanding.’ 

It would be best if you had a deep understanding and insight about what your customer/consumer wants- whether it’s your end consumer, whether it’s a client you are trying to persuade. 

As a Product Manager, apart from the end-user, the internal Sales team is your customer as well – you need to have an understanding of what drives them, the challenges they face, and how your product/concept/solution can solve their pain point. 

What expert advice will you give to mid-level managers to move on to leadership roles and conceptualizing growth strategies?

Ms. Rao – As mid-level managers, your responsibilities and horizons may be restricted to your team, your channel, your product category, and to a shorter time frame. As you move to higher roles, you need to have an understanding of how any action might impact the business as a whole and what will be the long-term impact. 

This will be the biggest difference- the rest you will be able to master, with your experience and knowledge. 

Rapid Fire Questions:

What brings you to entrepreneurship?

The excitement of building a new category, a new brand, and the opportunity to make a positive difference to millions, potentially. 

What is your leadership style?

My leadership style is supportive – I believe in letting my team explore and find their ways to solve problems, and I am there to guide them when they need guidance. 

What do you do to grow your skill-set over time?

While doing it on the job is the best way to grow your skill-set; an online course from any reputed site online is a great starting point. I read a lot of books on the subject I want to become an expert in. 

What is the key to aim for success in branding as a career?

Being curious about your consumers and being curious about things that are happening in your sector, your industry, and in marketing overall- will put you in a position of advantage. 

Which certification do you hold, and which skill development paths, books, or channels do you recommend for upskilling to aspiring professionals?

Apart from my MBA degree, which taught me the basics of marketing, I have done courses on Digital marketing. Another important skill for professionals is the ability to present one’s ideas well- so Presentation and communication courses – both speaking and powerpoints will be helpful.

Last words – Do you have any expert advice for our readers?

Have a learning mindset – things change around us all the time, and what worked in the past may not work in the future. Implement what you learn and seek feedback so that you can perform better the next time.

We hope this exclusive interview – a day in life of retail marketing head Ms. Pavithra Rao will help you boost a career in marketing. All the best!

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