Atique Kazi, the newly appointed director of Xaxis India, Group M's audience buying company, doesn't believe in visiting cards and ergo, didn't give us one when we went to meet him at his Mumbai office. But the erstwhile brain behind Yahoo!'s 'expansion market' strategy did walk us through his career so far and learnings at each juncture.
Not all of us make good on our academic degrees. But Atique Kazi surely has. After studying advertising and international marketing at Mumbai University (2002), he went on to gather a wealth of both local and international work experience in the media space.
After learning the basics of client servicing and cold calling at an IT services company, C-Tech, where he spent a year and a half, Kazi joined telecommunications company Hutchison 3G in 2003. Here, it was all about understanding processes and business readiness testing. "I learnt about the rigorous rounds of tests conducted before a project is rolled out," he recalls.
Part of his role as 'Team Coach' required him to take intelligence from CRM systems and feed it back to the sales teams in Australia and the UK. "A CRM system can provide a lot of information about people and their conversations - what they want/don't want, their grievances, all this constitutes marketing intelligence. I was like a bridge between the marketing and sales teams," he explains. His experience here taught him the importance of data and its correct analysis.
Eight years ago, Kazi went to Dubai. He joined JVC - Oasis Enterprises, a consumer electronics brand, as advertising and sales promotion manager. "I was always interested in a role like this and this was an opportunity that just clicked. I was responsible for the entire media buying process, across all points of sales," he says. It was here that Kazi picked up an interesting learning - that media in Dubai is extremely organised. Since Dubai is home to people from different communities, reaching out to each one, from a media perspective, is done in a very fine-tuned, targeted manner. "I learnt the art of targeting here - how to reach people, which media vehicles/messaging tools to use and when. There have to be multiple versions of your creatives in such a varied society," he shares.
However, a little over a year later, his thirst for something 'more scientific' brought him back home, straight into the lap of The Times of India, where he worked on the paper's online partnerships. Kazi's role was to ensure that TOI's online properties were monetised. Then, around mid-2008, he went back to Dubai, this time to join The Economist, in a regional role. He was responsible for the digital sales of The Economist in West Asia and Africa. Here, he noticed that while there were no real differences between India and Dubai in the way digital content is consumed, one basic disparity existed - and still exists - which is "the sheer volume of digital consumption." In Dubai, the percentage consumption of digital media is high, keeping in mind the total population. "This is because people in Dubai are from different countries and bring in their consumption trends with them," he says. After 18 months at The Economist, he went on a nine-month sabbatical during which, among other things, he escaped to the Himalayas.
Then, as he puts it, "Yahoo! happened." Here, he worked on the brand's 'expansion market' strategy. Key markets under his purview included South Africa, Greece, The Netherlands, Belgium, Romania, Sweden, Norway and Denmark. Work frequently took him to all these places. Three years down the line, Kazi has entered a new world -- the world of WPP.