Every time I interact with Gautam Awasthi, I get to learn new things about tech, media and communications. He somehow manages to stay up-to-date with latest trends, and (thankfully) shares his ideas too. While techie roles come naturally to engineers, Gautam is one who dared to venture into the challenging world of sales & marketing. How does one handle such a shift? What are the challenges? What is the kind of attitude and skills needed for such a role? Is he happy with the shift? I had a lot of questions. He obliged…
Q. Can you describe your current role? What are the primary results that you are expected to achieve for your organisation in this role?
A. My role in the organisation is to generate leads, clicks and views for our business. These are managed through MarCom initiatives aimed at Demand-Generation, Preference-Building and Brand-Awareness. BUT managing a pleasant customer-experience while doing all of the above is the most critical part for my role as Head of Marketing Communication, EMEAI, Keysight Technologies.
Q. What are the things that excite you about this role?
A. The power and responsibility of this role is what excites me most. With this role, one has a unique power to communicate with scientists/engineers working on varied applications (sometimes cutting-edge, sometimes life/mission-critical and sometime pure-fun), and also therefore a huge responsibility to communicate it ‘right’ for them to see ‘value’ in this exchange.
Q. What’re the top 2 or 3 challenges for you in this role?
A. The top challenge for me in this role is primarily circled around discovering/creating and communicating ‘value’. In MarCom, there is a very good saying ‘Value has a value ONLY if it’s value is valued’. So, communicating ‘a value that is valued’ is one of the most critical part of a MarCom role.
Q. Is this the kind of role that you had dreamt of when you were in college? If not, how did the shift happen? Are you happy with it?
A. I don’t think I was aware of such a role while starting college 25 years back and shift happened gradually over these years. Although I always wanted to stay closer to technology and electronics streams, I think my passion to communicate drove me closer to customer-facing roles over these years, from sales to marketing. I am happy with how my career has shaped so far as I have been blessed to work with some really amazing people and technologies in these years.
Q. What are the skill sets needed to reach this role?
A. I guess the skill set needed to reach my role is no different from any of the marketing communications role in a high-technology B2B space with a multinational business. Marry that with the passion for this industry and this role, the results are exponential.
Q. Is keeping up-to-date with latest technologies and their applications—a challenge for you? If yes, how do you handle the same?
A. For the latest in technologies and their applications, I rely heavily on press and social media. ‘Information’ is key for ‘Informed decisions’, the only challenge that I see today is barrage of sources of this information emerging out of an apparent social media explosion. Reliable and Credible sources are key.
Q. For youngsters dreaming to fill in your shoes—what would be your advice to them? What aspects should they work on to reach here?
A. I would refer to the response of this question to one of the earlier ones where I maintain that the right skills need to be married with the passion for the industry/role to make it big in any role/business.
Q. Is a technical educational background important—for a marketing role in tech firms like Keysight? Does it help?
A. When dealing with high-tech solutions and communicating with customers which are primarily scientists/engineers, the technical background definitely comes handy as a marketer.
Q. Despite graduation in engineering, how and why did you enter into sales and then marketing? What was the trigger or motivation?
A. I always wanted to stay close to technology and electronics, and my passion to communicate drove me closer to customer-facing roles, starting first in sales and then slowly transitioning to marketing.
Q. You also opted to do an MBA? How did it help?
A. A professional MBA definitely helps on 2 counts: (1) broadens one’s horizon, and (2) equips one with proven time-efficient tools.
Q. What are the key mistakes that you made that you think you should have avoided in hind-sight? Any learnings?
A. Communicate with more, and more often as it is never enough. That has been a key learning and a common mistake when your career takes off.