Telecoms operators, FMCG companies or Local conglomerates…if any of these terms are playing in your mind now,then this write-up is just for you 🙂 Yes, although I don’t consider myself to be anywhere close to the masterly art of career counseling or anything as such…I did make a stir once and that too with the most prized possession of all, MY CAREER.
Being overly indulgent in making something out of myself and proudly boasting a self-identity beyond my family name ever since college, a lot was and is expected out of me. And just like the days, when I got blamed for getting a better grade than the guy next to me (after studying half as much as he did), I was once again getting blamed for my choice of career (but this time around, making as much as that guy does in some other industry). Advertising, as commonly perceived, had long gone beyond the says of signage and billboards or producing commercials only…it was in a new age and yet people were reluctant in accepting it as a worthwhile career. Being not even a Tier II career path, advertising was well and truly not for me (well at least facts didn’t suggest so – a private university degree, a somewhat smart brain and definitely an ambitious heart). But to the utter surprise of my fellows and followers, I joined in and its been a sweet (honeymoon stage) relationship ever since then.
By the time I was over with my college-life love, not a person in this instance but a student organization…infamously called Alcohol In Excess Sex In Every Conference aka AIESEC, I decided to concentrate on books for a change. It was nearing my “end of days” in NSU and by all means, I had to pass with a grade that my Dad could at least share with his colleagues 😛 (yeah, I still live in those days… sigh!).
So, with no ECA to do and boring books getting the best of my time, the disease called claustrophobia took over, and the miscreants of boredom almost made me brain-dead. Here I was going back and forth to college, no life, no fun just being a bum (in my kinda dictionary of course). And looking at it from the days of being a President of AIESEC in NSU or as a member of one of the more happening crowds across the varsity, there couldn’t be anyone in a more ‘loser-like’ situation than me.
So by the 11th of what you call semesters (I profoundly called them party stars :P), I was back in the HUNT, for a job this time. Looking around with my array of contacts, I could only land my eyes on two prospective paths…teach or preach. With the first option, I have had rather bitter experiences to talk about and then there was my gf who believed in sayings like “those who can, do it; those who can’t do it, teach” ;where the later one, judging from my good leadership stints back in high school and college, and just by basic calculations, seemed to be a better prospect to carry over into a career. Decided and determined, I was appalled by two job opening ads just in time to get my attention; one was what I call today viral marketing (or commonly known as database marketing) and the other, a more conventional press insertion. The viral marketer was none other but my close buddy Rin2, a celebrity by his own merits and then a high-flyer at A Positive Advertising and the press was from the house of Grey (not the color, but the firm).
Being the safe player I used to be, I applied for both…and luckily enough, got interview calls from both. Grey was the first try, and a try it was :D…surrounded by equally or possibly better equipped resumes and experiences. There were the likes who had been in advertising for 2 years or so with a masters, as well as fresher with a degree from Goizueta Business School and Emory University (a one time favorite b-school of mine). I, startled by the crowd and fearful of the future, sat there trying to initiate a chit-chat. And when my turn came, I proceeded to the Grey board room (for the first and last time)to find a bald guy with a cool attitude, sitting and going about the interviewing as if it was just a “kid’s play”…in fact, at the end of the interview I actually felt so, with having to answer two questions only…’why advertising?’ and ‘if I could manage time amidst my studies?’ And that was it…DONE!!! I came back happily to my parents, sharing the story as if I had won over the world of GREY and would soon be making it all COLORFUL. Sadly, upon hearing the storyline, my skeptic dad made a gloomy face and asked me to look forward to the second. Indeed, his skepticism worked out right, I never got a second call.
At A Positive however, the experience was far better. Two of my closest buddies being already employed there, I literally breezed through the interview and was destined for the job. With “0” experience and 4 courses in that semester, a 12K/month job was a dream come true. And to add to the party, I got to know my MT days there would be converted to full-time Executive position once I was six months young and some achievements to speak for.
I had a dream time at my very first job. Friends from varsity, two minutes walk from campus and enough money at the month-end to spend…all just fit into the perfect landscape. I, for once, was loving what we call AGENCY LIFE!!! 8-9.30 class, 10-2 work, lunch with gf, 6-7.30 class and back home…life was just too good…I had given up on hopes for a good CGPA but had high hopes of making sth out of myself in advertising (and all of a sudden, so did a few of my buddies). As graduation drew closer and closer, all were running after the big MNCs, Telcos and Conglomerates for the job of an educated-smart peon whom we call”intern”. And without any bragging, here I was managing multi-million taka businesses all by myself. The autonomy and authority I had at that age was simply too good to be true.
By the end of month no. 5, I was all alone in A Positive…with both my buddies (Rin2 and Ashraf) leaving to pursue a career in banking. But I enjoyed the days nonetheless. I was the single-minded message of the firm and people were all praises of me. I was nothing short of feeling like Dr. Garrigan in “The Last King of Scotland”, center of the world too early, too easily. At A Positive, I learnt the taste of good creative thoughts from the likes of Equ Bhai as well as media buying prowess from the MD himself, Mazhar Bhai. Not to mention the job of Client Servicing (my department) seemed pretty normal for my B.B.A. education and AIESEC experience. I however did learn a lot about PR and self-marketing 😛
But all’s not well that never ends well. I, too became too selfish and was looking for opportunities to make a real career out of advertising and a company that wasn’t known to even the advertising folks clearly wasn’t the calling. So when time for the next big career leap came in, I blindly took it. Now for all you folks, in advertising a job switch is perhaps seen to be the most likely source of a pay-raise, or at least threatening to switch is. But gladly enough, greed was never the real motivation for me when passion drove me on.
Its nearing a year since I joined Ogilvy & Mather Bangladesh from my last employer (breaking a zillion hearts there). Since then I made some good career leaps and in fact more importantly got to meet a few living legends in advertising i.e. PiyushPandey (from the famed Fevikwik or Cadbury ads). David Ogilvy, being a forefather of modern-day advertising, was someone I got to know and cherished since being at A Positive; and here at Ogilvy & Mather, I was literally in his pay-roll (well not exactly, since he’s been dead for ten years now). With an insight into global diversity starting at AIESEC, Ogilvy was the rightful place for a wandering mind. And for all those who always saw advertising to be a career for the backbenchers’ and not-so-bright students, I happened to get straight A’s in all my strategic courses during my college years and fortunately enough, am the Strategic Planner for my firm, too. Now tell me how many of you actually ever get to work on what you dreamed of or excelled at during your grooming days; may be a handful but not more.
I would finish my saga of personal history with a simple yet meaningful quote by one of the true advertising greats, Piyush Pandey, Chairman of Ogilvy India-“how can you call it work when you’re having so much fun!”