Aishwarya Ramesh
Marketing

“We are getting caught in a certification economy”: Anand Chakravarthy, media buyer turned edtech entreprenuer

In conversation with the co-founder of Results and Outcomes, the newest member of the booming edtech industry.

When schools across India shut their classroom doors during COVID-induced lockdowns and started offering online classes, there was increased interest in the edtech sector. Anand Chakravarthy, the newest member of this industry, arrives on the scene as the co-founder of Results and Outcomes. It is a startup launched by industry practitioners, with expertise in media and entertainment, technology, digital marketing, and digital transformation.

Chakravarthy will work alongside investor and co-founder Tarun Katial (former CEO, ZEE5) to design and deliver upskilling courses for working professionals that focus on areas impacted by digital transformation. Chakravarthy was previously managing director at Essence India.

Over a call, Chakravarthy reveals that Katial is on MICA, Ahmedabad’s advisory board, and the institute approached him (Chakravarthy) to help it design a digital transformation course, targeting working professionals.

"I wouldn’t say I had a five-year plan in mind."
Anand Chakravarthy

“When I moved out of Essence, Tarun approached me to come on board and help, and that’s how our first course started. I think the edtech opportunity partly happened by design. I wouldn’t say I had a five-year plan in mind.”

The main reason why working professionals want to upskill is to add value to their careers, in terms of a promotion, or to find a better paying job in their sector, or to switch sectors altogether. Chakravarthy mentions that he understood that when professionals want to upskill with these courses, they have to learn from people who are working in these domains.

"There’s no textbook for digital consultation, data management, or personalisation using data."
Anand Chakravarthy

“When we designed the course, we wanted to ensure that it focused on real world application. The course attempts to cover all the domains within digital transformation, and is taught by a faculty that has hands-on experience. Otherwise, it’s impossible to teach anything meaningful to other working professionals. After all, there’s no textbook for digital consultation, data management, or personalisation using data.”

"Upskilling is important, but it doesn’t mean that certificate is going to ensure your next promotion. It may not help you land the next big project, or a job"
Anand Chakravarthy

“We are getting caught in a certification economy. Upskilling is important, but it doesn’t mean that certificate is going to ensure your next promotion. It may not help you land the next big project, or a job,” adds Chakravarthy.

He talks about the industry professionals, who have 17-18 years of experience and have spent the last 3-5 years, learning on the job. The course is similarly designed – with a hands-on approach to learning the ropes.

“Say, for instance, you’re logged in to LinkedIn and there are 52,000 jobs related to social product management. We could actually introduce a product development module in this course itself. This is how we want to build courses for specific domains. The problem with our education system is that nobody is training people for industry and business requirements.”

The course has different modules, and the learners have an option to pick and choose the modules that they want to specialise in. “This helps give more flexibility to the students. We are living in tough times, where there's a lot of pressure as well. So, we’re providing an alternative way of doing the course,” mentions Chakravarthy.

He adds that MICA has an important role to play in the pedagogy of teaching. “Right now, it’s not possible to meet the students in person. So, elements like whether a topic is a self-study module, or whether it’s a live session, become critical. MICA plays a crucial role in helping us design that experience.”

Chakravarthy says that the challenge he’s looking to tackle in his new role is to build and execute the plan accurately. “We know what we need to do. Now, executing that in a certain timeframe is going to be the most critical aspect. We also have to be able to execute on other aspects, like getting the right team together with the investment partners, and so on.”

He emphasises on the importance of upskilling in today’s day and age. Everyone, from the client to the agency partners to the individual team members, is expected to upskill in order to stay relevant to the industry. He adds that this trend wasn’t the case a few years ago.

In 2006, Chakravarthy joined Reliance Broadcast Network and was responsible for marketing management, corporate communication, client solutions, and content strategy and research. At the time, he was responsible for BIG 92.7 FM. He launched 45 stations in different cities and, with a local consumer-centric content strategy, claims to have driven a rise in listenership numbers and cemented the BIG FM brand.

“At the time, nobody from the team had any specialised knowledge on how to run a radio station – whether it was the talent team, or the RJs. We all learnt on the job and that’s how we gained experience. We were fairly young and operating in a relatively new category. ‘Somebody has to do it for the first time – why can’t it be me?’ – this thought was deeply entrenched in me.”

"Somebody has to do it for the first time – why can’t it be me?"
Anand Chakravarthy

He explains that being in the media business gave him a detailed bird's-eye view of what's happening in the marketing world. “It would be foolish of me to say that I understand each of these domains very well. But I understand very clearly, what it means to be a working professional. I can understand what motivates people to upskill. I can understand what skills are actually required by people, and how the skill should be delivered.”

Before his stint at Reliance, he worked as the AVP of strategic planning at Lowe Lintas (from April 2001 to March 2005), where he dealt with brands like Surf Excel, ICICI Bank, and Johnson & Johnson. This was his first exposure to consumer insights – something that has continued to interest him throughout his career.

He joined GroupM in 2014, and worked as a managing partner at Wavemaker till January 2018. He moved within the company to work as managing director at Essence – where he stayed on until May 2021. He adds that his time at GroupM included a sharp learning curve and he got to learn a lot from his peers, coworkers and seniors.

Chakravarthy confides that the first thing he did after he moved out of Essence was to personally take a course in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). “There’s a lot happening in this space and I wanted to understand it better. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are now becoming a part of almost every industry. You don’t have to be a programmer to understand the fundamentals of AI and ML,” he signs off.