TomorrowMakers

“Believe in yourself, build up your confidence, don’t be afraid to experiment or take risks,” advises Kapoor

Every award bears testament to the power of collective team effort: Sheena Kapoor

Innovative, quirky, creative, flexible, free-spirited are few words often used to describe Sheena Kapoor. An award-winning marketer with more than 50 accolades to her credit, she loves building brands and telling engaging stories. 

Sheena has an unquenchable thirst for learning and is constantly in the pursuit of knowledge to hone her creative skills. She is a strong advocate of women climbing up the corporate ladder and inspires them to have faith in their abilities.

In her current role as Head Corporate Marketing at Edelweiss Group, a leading diversified financial services group, she is responsible for building and marketing strategies across the Group.

In an exclusive conversation with TomorrowMakers, Sheena talks about her motivation, challenges faced, breaking gender barriers, and bingeing on Netflix, among other things.

Excerpts:

What does your role of Head Corporate of Marketing at Edelweiss Financial Services entail?

As Head Corporate Marketing – Edelweiss Group, the role entails being the brand custodian, building brand awareness and driving strategic marketing initiatives. It also involves integrated multimedia campaigns, culling consumer insights and managing brand ambassadors for the Group. 

We are a very large and diversified conglomerate and are a challenger brand in most of the retail finance categories – Life Insurance, General Insurance, Mutual Funds, Home Loans etc. And that is what makes the role challenging and exciting. We identified sports as a passion point, building a long-term partnership with IOA as Team India Principal Sponsors for Olympics, Asian Games and CWG. 

I’m extremely proud of the fact that we are one of the few brands that ‘walk the talk’. And have onboard women champions like Hima Das, Manika Batra, Dipa Karmakar, Rani Rampal, Heena Siddhu, Mirabai Chanu and Saina Nehwal in the past, apart from having the inimitable Irrfan Khan as the face of our campaigns.

You have previously worked with the Times Group and handled marketing strategies for other such big brands. Talk to us about some of the challenges you faced.

I have worked with The Times Group for nearly 12 years across their financial services, real estate and media divisions.  My last role with Times Group as Head Innovations was a national role that entailed driving advertiser revenue through disruptive, clutter-breaking campaigns that went beyond the regular display advertising. Innovations involved pitching fragrance issues, creative mastheads, folds or French windows within the newspaper. Also, textured, metallic newspaper, sampling with shampoo sachets or teabags or the more impactful AR, audio chip, video chip innovations, just to name a few. 

The biggest challenge was the complex cross-functional structure, whereby I worked collaboratively with over 13 industry vertical heads and their teams (FMCG, Telco, BFSI, etc.) 17 branches nationally, production, distribution, procurement and scheduling departments internally - and with the clients’ marketing teams, creative and media agencies externally.  

The other big challenge was managing the logistics at that scale. For instance, one of the award-winning campaigns was a barcoded key pasted on the front page of the newspaper for a car launch with over six lakh copies across seven cities. All, within three hours from the time the paper gets printed and is sent to depots for onward distribution.

What do you do to unwind after a long hard day at work?

I like to unwind with books, music, friends, and of late bingeing on some great content on Netflix. By nature, I’m an easy-going person and don’t get stressed easily. I believe it is important to have a keen perspective and be able to discern what is worth stressing about and what isn’t.

You have been honoured with multiple awards. What motivates you to keep thinking creatively and outside the box?

Every award bears testament to the power of collective team effort. I have always been tempted to challenge the status quo, and urge the team and the agencies to come up with creative solutions and ideas. For instance, I have mandated the team to have an innovation no matter how small - in every campaign or event that we are engaged with. I think motivation is inherent since I find the ‘done to death’ ways very limiting and uninspiring.

Media, real estate, financial services and consulting verticals managing marketing, brand management and alliance functions. You have donned multiple caps across multiple roles. Are these verticals challenging for corporate women to get into?

I don’t think gender defines your skillsets. Some of the best chefs around the world have been men, while traditionally cooking has been a woman’s domain. As a marketer, your skills are transferable across industries. What is important is to have the fundamental right. Culling customer insights, understanding the audience, building brand philosophy, crafting USPs and packaging it in the most creative, yet relatable communication strategy aligned with business objectives.

Tell us about your childhood. What was Sheena Kapoor like as a kid?

I believe every child deserves a happy childhood and I am extremely fortunate to have a blessed childhood. As a kid, I was curious, fun-loving, mischievous, pampered, popular and carefree. My dad was in the Army, so we shuttled about depending on his postings, and we grew up having more exposure, confidence and cultivated mannerisms, strong values and deep respect and adulation for Armed Forces.

Where do you see yourself five years from now?

Honestly, I have always found this question to be overrated. I think most of us fake our answers to this typical interview question. I am one to go with the flow of life and I’m fluid and flexible with my plans. Nonetheless, I see myself in a similar marketing role since I enjoy brand building and the storytelling involved.  

Please share a few words of wisdom for the young women looking to launch a career in marketing.

Believe in yourself, build up your confidence, don’t be afraid to experiment or take risks. Learn the art of seeing the big picture, while giving attention to detail all the while with lots of moving parts. Above all, you need to have a creative streak and be open to forging relationships and working collaboratively with people, multiple agencies and vendors. 

How I did it

Rahila Khan
Homemaker

I am a single mother of one. I lost my husband just 5 years into my marriage. Life has been a struggle for me, but I have managed it and today I have no complaints. 

I was a young widow with a 3 year old son when my husband passed away due to a heart attack. My parents were my rock… Read more

Piya Sharma
Chartered Accountant

I am a CA by profession. As my training has taught me, investing is a big part of my financial strategy. I am slightly risk-averse and invest heavily in mutual funds, FDs and ULIPs. I stay away from the stock market. 

As the household expenses are taken care of by my husband, I use most… Read more

Rajesh Singh
Corporate Executive

Growing up I did not have much other than the bare necessities. Though my mom tried her best, she could not fulfil our wishes. I always knew I had to study and improve my life. Today, I own a bike, a car and my own humble house. This has only been possible because of my prudent wife.

We… Read more

Suraj Chandwani
Gas Station Owner

I like to work hard and live a good life. I want to give the best to my wife and son, as well as my parents who live with us. I own a gas station in the suburbs of Mumbai. I had taken a loan to set up my business. So a major chunk of my earnings goes in repaying the loan. I also have a car loan… Read more

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