CareerPreviews@ASPIRE

Kavita Jagtiani is an experienced brand builder and business professional with over 18 years of cross category work experience in consultancy, financial services, luxury goods and consumer products.

Shilpa Jain: Your role has evolved from being Head of Corporate Marketing to Category Chief, Consumer Products Division. Can you elaborate as to what does this involve?

Kavita Jagtiani: The Category Chief role involves leading the category function to steer growths in several product segments in the Consumer products portfolio. It involves category creation for newer segments, consumer marketing, user marketing, innovation and P&L accountability.  Consumer insighting is at the core of all this.

SJ: How different is the marketing role from the above function?

KJ: Marketing function would typically involve product or consumer marketing, however category lead role has a wider scope. It is more strategic in nature and involves defining a product portfolio aligned to the consumer needs, improving consumer experiences across touch points, maximizing sales & profits and creating sustainable growth opportunities for the business.  In sum, it ensures  greater savings, better outcomes, improved quality, efficient use of resources & manages risk more effectively for the organization.

SJ: You have also done branding in your previous role with General Mills for 6 years. Was it completely different from marketing?

KJ: Creating ‘winning brands’ is the guiding principle for all marketing efforts.  Branding shifts consumer behavior from transactional to relationships. That’s the edge that branding provides over pure marketing- greater engagement, differentiation and loyalty.  Branding involves a far deeper understanding of the psyche of consumers, drivers of consumer behavior, need states to arrive at a positioning that is differentiated, compelling and true. For eg. Pillsbury brand stood for ‘empowering moms’ with healthy & convenient meal solutions and Nature Valley brand stood for ‘wholesome snacking with a great taste’

SJ: Is it easy to change industries/sectors in a marketing function?

KJ: Yes, since the consumer’s expectations remain the same – no matter which industry or sector they are in. They seek increased value, better quality, and more empathy from products or services. As long as marketers have an understanding of the core drivers they can apply the learnings effectively in any product category, I have a wide & cross category exposure ranging from consultancy to FMCG to financial services to consumer products which face the same marketing challenges: how do I find new customers? How do I develop the customers and how do I retain my most valuable customers?

I assimilate the learnings, processes and best practices gathered in one sector & translate it into new sectors.

SJ: Since the onset of the pandemic, how heavily have you relied on digital marketing?

KJ: I was one of the fortunate category stewards that witnessed growths during the pandemic too as consumers got on doing more ‘art & craft’ with more time on hand. The three most preferred activities during lockdown period being fitness, cooking and art & craft. Majority of them were online seeking ideas & support, we led the digital adoption through customized content, targeted programs for different sets of users- beginners, serious crafters etc. & multi-touch point approach. Certainly, digital was the most used medium to connect & engage our users!

SJ: What is the growth path one can expect for someone desirous of pursuing a career in marketing?

KJ: Clearly dependent on one’s interest. Either one can head the marketing function in an organization or lead one of the specialized fields of marketing like Digital Strategy or Marketing, Innovation or New Business Development, Consumer Insights or Corporate Marketing, As a marketer, I always urge the young minds to keep reviewing their strengths & evolve their interests especially in the current dynamic context of marketing where newer technologies and disciplines emerge. Who would have thought social media or influencer marketing would be a marketing discipline in its own?

Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome.

SJ: Would you like to highlight some of the things you have done differently in your career which has made you successful?

KJ: As a marketer, I have always believed in ‘purpose driven’ marketing. While we address a deeper consumer need, but as brands we need to stand for something that furthers a cause, gives back to the society, solves a larger problem. With great power comes great responsibility! This is what I have strived for, through my work and it permeates everything I do. In my current stint, we help women to hone their intrinsic art or creativity, to serve as a profession & carve an identity for themselves. All they need is a platform, a stimulus to spark creativity & motivation – that’s exactly what Fevicryl does!

The other thing I would like to mention here is that I am always inclined to be ‘an effective people person’. I forge partnerships, collaborate with those within or outside the team, and build on collective strengths. I go by the saying ‘sum of parts is always greater than whole’. To top it all, working with other team members whom you have a great work relationship with can actually make work fun!

SJ: As our primary cause is aiming to make young women financially independent, why is being financially independent important to you?

KJ: Being financially independent to me is living on my own terms & insuring the future as well! It means I can sustain the lifestyle that I desire for myself without have to make too many adjustments even if there are unforeseen challenges or situations beyond one’s control.

KJ: Going a step further, it also enables me to be a financial role model for my teenage daughter or for the several young women I interact with during the course of work or outside, instilling the sense of being financially competent & independent.

SJ: Any message to the members of Aspire for Her? And any message for the Foundation in general?

KJ: You guys are doing an amazing job in inspiring women to be self-reliant. With industry support & partnership with like-minded women, you can achieve great success & make a difference to the lives of many aspiring women. Kudos & keep up the good work!

Rapid Fire!

Question: One person, fictional/real and dead/alive that you want to have dinner with 

Roger Federer.

Question: A book on your career field that you would recommend to or readers

How Brands Become Icons: The Principles of Cultural Branding  by D. B. Holt 

Question: 3 things on your bucket list

Drive through the beautiful English countryside. England is an ideal country for a spectacular road trip!

Visit Kashmir & stay in house boat to relive the memories of childhood & vacations during our young age..

Watch a Wimbledon live match in Centre court.

Interviewed By: Shilpa Jain

Executive Director, Indusion Consulting Services(ex-banker, now a head-hunter)