Jasmin Sohrabji, managing director, OMD India, has spent a significant number of years in media planning and buying. In a candid chat, she shares some highlights of her career that shaped her attitude towards work.
For a person who has grown up in this industry, and being part of an offshoot of a large creative agency setup, it was a different feeling altogether to set up a standalone media agency, here in India, from scratch. In a standalone, the buck stops with me! There was that whole suspense factor -- whether I will enjoy it, and achieve a thrill in it, and I must say, the defining moment here was at the end of the first year at OMD, when I delivered my first business plan to the global guys.
Beyond Indian shores
A key learning experience for me arrived in the form of a year-long assignment in the US, in 1998. The first day I landed there, I was very apprehensive. The experience of working in another country's setup was new, and the rules of that place, the people, the work, were all very different. The learning experience there was great. But, I realised one thing -- Indians are completely at par with our global counterparts, and match their thinking level.
Before I knew it, not only was I learning things from them, but I was also training their teams. Jim Bell, Mediacom's global managing director back then, told me at the end of my tenure, "Although you visited us for a global learning, we all ended up learning from you, as well!" Words that still remain with me.
Conviction and belief
When I was a junior media planner, an internal presentation was to be prepared for the seniors, which was to be presented in front of clients, potential clients and the media. I was put in charge of the research and collation of data. While presenting it, I spoke with all my heart, conviction etched in each word. The passion showed so much that my senior told me, "You are saying this with so much conviction, you should present it." And, I did.
I remember, a few years ago, I was hiring people who thought like me and had the same sensibilities and perspectives that I did.
At one point, Nirvik Singh, my boss, told me, "You don't need 15 Jasmins around!"
He made me realise it was okay to hire people with different thinking, backgrounds, skill-sets and perspectives in media planning. I didn't quite buy it, but decided to hire people from all sorts of backgrounds. And, the results overwhelmed me. One particular way of thinking is to be in a comfort zone, from which I managed to step out.