What an amazing fortnight it has been at work! I have just returned from Manila, Philippines after working on a project for a global CPG brand with one of the best consulting firms in the world.
As I had partied into the new year, little did I know that I would soon be entrusted with a big project. Tickets booked, visas approved, bags packed and suddenly, I was updating my travel status on Facebook. Sometimes things happen so fast that you hardly get time to process it - that was exactly what was happening to me!
As the huge masses of land diminished into tiny specs of light and my excited heart skipped innumerable beats, I sat back to look at how life at Happy Marketer had unfolded. It had only been six months, but I was already flying to Manila to work with some of the best minds in the consulting business, on a brand that has a permanent spot in the grocery baskets of millennials across the globe. And to make this trip all the more eventful, Happy Marketer organized an exciting layover of four days in Singapore!
Travelling solo across countries, exploring cities with Google Maps, SMRT, and the super cool Uber, interacting with friendly Filipinos who often called me ‘foreigner’ (well, I did have a celebrity moment when one of the Filipino traffic policemen asked me for a picture with him), tasting authentic Southeast Asian dishes, and putting up at the luxurious Shang (Shangri-La at the Fort, Manila) — the last two weeks have been like an exciting roller coaster ride, with many highs. The lows? Well, they've been insignificant - like the foodie Bengali in me yearning for bhaat & maach (rice & fish curry - the staple food of Bengalis) after days of munching on fries and burgers.
Apart from all the fun I had exploring Manila and Singapore, and posting selfies and pictures on Facebook (much to the envy of most of my friends), this business trip was a great opportunity for me to learn, unlearn and relearn. The overall aim of our team was to create a roadmap to build a strong digital future for the CPG brand. My role in the project was to study the brand, conduct detailed audits of their current digital assets, and take deep-dives into the CPG space to identify various market forces affecting the brand.
Here are 5 lessons I took away from my trip that I want to share:
1. One of the strategic ways you can build your case for your client is to identify the forces operating in the market (like consumer trends, competitors’ strategies, economic conditions of the state or the country, political situations) and formulate a hypothesis that is well-backed by data, proof points, and relevant case studies from the industry
2. Not all pieces of data might be relevant or important for your analysis. Thus, the ideal way to sort through a huge pile of data is to look at it and quickly ask yourself - “Is this data leading me to some insight that will answer the client’s question(s)” or “What is the 'so-what' factor in this piece of data?”
3. After constantly looking at similar data, the mechanical part of our brain usually overpowers the analytical part. That's when we lose out on the ability to generate fresh insights, since we have already got into the tendency of looking at the data in a particular way, or analyzing only selective sections of the reports. One way to handle such situations is to place together pieces of data that you might feel are connected (for example, price of petrol and quantity of cars sold in a particular year), and then analyze them to figure out a trend.
4. To ensure that your graphs and charts look credible, recreate them to give a look and feel of the deck where you intend to use them (you should definitely mention the source of data at the bottom of the chart). Avoid taking screenshots from reports churned out by third party research organizations, and copy-pasting them directly on your slides.
5. And finally, the best way to become better at what you’re doing is by keeping your mind open, asking the right questions at the right time, digging deeper and evolving constantly.
All in all, this last minute trip turned out to be a great experience. An opportunity to be included in a huge project at such an early stage of my career has not only boosted my self confidence, but also made me realize my untapped potential. It has made me more open, and less fearful of unexpected things coming my way, and my boss will agree that I’m killing it at work :P