Sohini Sen

"Every company wants entrepreneurial people": Namrata Balwani, OgilvyOne

How difficult was Namrata Balwani's move back to the corporate world, after co-founding and running Media2win, a digital marketing agency? We find out, during the course of a quick chat with Balwani, who was recently appointed as Sr. VP, OgilvyOne.

A new trend, if it can be called that, is that of entrepreneurs getting out of their cushy offices and going back to the corporate culture. The latest to join the growing list of what afaqs! calls the 'entre-ployee' is Namrata Balwani, who quit as CEO Media2Win - a digital marketing agency she helped co-found, to join OgilvyOne as senior vice president.

"Every company wants entrepreneurial people": Namrata Balwani, OgilvyOne
"Every company wants people who are entrepreneurial. People want the kind of skill sets that make you entrepreneurial. And that is given a lot of value. I cannot choose one or the other because I will always be entrepreneurial in nature," says Balwani.

Balwani started her career as senior media planner, Contract Advertising and moved to Maxus after nearly three years. However, the entrepreneurial bug bit and three years later, in 2005, she co-founded Media2Win. Working as business head, she helped the company expand to three cities and win multiple awards for client work across Abbys, Yahoo Big Idea and IAMAI. In June, she replaced OgilvyOne's Sanjeev Jasani who joined Cheil India as digital head.

Does getting back to the grind worry her? Aren't there new challenges that lie in wait? "I don't think I would have learned as much about the business if I had conventionally just grown up the ranks in a company. And that is because you spend every minute of your day multi-tasking," she points out.

Balwani has not just looked at strategy, but also various other aspects of running a company - finance, admin, decision-making. It also taught her how to adapt fast, because time and quick decisions are needed in the competitive advertising industry. "I think the digital advertising segment is even more competitive. Just by its nature that there are so many self-serve options available. It is easier to set up something in the digital space, and you don't require a large headcount for it. The business orientation that you get in a start-up environment is invaluable," she puts in.

She prides herself as someone who is able to multi-task with a vision and ability to foresee what is going to happen. In the ever-changing digital world, she feels, it is imperative to start planning five years ahead. "OgilvyOne is already No.1 in its domain. But to stay there, you need to have that ability and vision. Digital is at the heart of every organisation, every industry. We cannot ignore it any more."

Balwani's strength lies in the business side and the way she approaches strategy. Having led the team at Media2Win for long, she knows how to keep the team motivated and together. But her primary challenge is to figure out what exactly she can add to the great body of work that the agency is doing. Not one to mince words, Balwani does admit that winning more business and awards for the work they do will also be her focus. As of now she is working on brands like BMW, Dabur, Vistara, Kohler and Philips.

Balwani is of the opinion that any brand can be made exciting in the digital space. "Even a B2B brand can be fun to work on. As far as being digitally savvy is concerned, I think it is time every brand became digitally savvy - not just because it is the thing to do, but because that is where the Indians are. And that is the opportunity for the agency."

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