Ad Land’s Young Guns: Lehar Raj, Senior Media Activation Manager - India, Essence

Lehar Raj is Senior Media Activation Manager, India at Essence, a global data and measurement-driven media agency that is part of GroupM. Joining Essence in 2016, she has been an advertising technology and media planning advisor for brands in the e-commerce, non-profit, technology and video streaming sectors. She is currently leading social media activation for the agency’s clients in India and Southeast Asia. Additionally, she is a member of GroupM India’s Youth Committee, a shadow board that works with the Executive Committee on organisational projects. Prior to Essence, she served at Fever FM and start-up Jukebox Studio.

In conversation with Adgully, Lehar Raj, Senior Media Activation Manager, India, Essence, shares about her journey with Essence, long term career in the Digital sector and social media, future career related plans and more.

What particular skill sets do you think you bring to the table?

Firstly, communication. I pride myself on being able to convey not just my thoughts and ideas, but how I feel about them too. Whether it is giving a review of the latest movie I watched or presenting a media approach to clients, I am able to convey both information and my excitement about it. This really comes in handy when pitching ideas, because the recipient of those ideas can often sense my passion and excitement about them.

The second would be proactiveness. I do not shy away from taking on additional responsibilities and putting in a few extra hours to get the best output. It always ends up being an enriching experience and, very often, a great opportunity to meet and interact with new people.

How did you join your current organisation?

I began my career in sales, but was always looking to do something more technical. That was when I stumbled upon Essence, which had set up its office in India and was looking to hire people who were familiar with JavaScript and SQL languages. I was interviewed and, during the process, really loved my interactions with the interviewers. That was when I decided this was the kind of work culture I want to be a part of, and the rest is history!

Icons in this field you look up to and how they have influenced you and your work?
My colleagues at Essence and the clients I work with are some of the most brilliant people I have had the privilege of crossing paths with in life. They have definitely helped me grow, not just professionally but personally as well.

What are the five most productive things that you do in your everyday routine?
I would be lying if I say I do five productive things every day! My day pretty much starts with me opening the laptop and ends with me watching sitcoms on television – thanks to the pandemic. That being said, the three highlights of my day would be: a morning huddle with my team, eating my mother’s experimental food for the day, and listening to my sibling share about her job every evening, while I share my day with my partner.

Do you think a career in this field is a viable one in the long term?
Absolutely, it is so exciting! It is like a TikTok trend that changes every other day. There is just so much to specialise in – creative, data analytics, media planning, consumer research, and more. The sky is the limit in this field, as long as you are willing to welcome and embrace it with open arms, like Shah Rukh Khan in DDLJ!

What does it take to succeed in a career?
The art of balancing – something we all struggle with, including me. Balancing between delivering expectations to all stakeholders – internal and external. Balancing between each step and with the individual involved in the process of producing quality work; there is not one individual who is more important than another and everyone has an equally important role to play. Balancing work and personal life – everything happens on the go and if boundaries are not set, burnout is inevitable.

What would be your advice to youngsters planning to enter this industry?
I think this applies to any industry – do not get caught up in the pay scale when you start your career. It is important that we use the first few years of our career to build our knowledge bank and identify our strengths and weaknesses. Once you have a solid foundation, everything else will catch up quickly.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
I do things on-the-go and maybe that is why this field is so apt for me. It is hard for me to envision my next six months, let alone five years. Hopefully, I will be working remotely from Hawaii, sipping on a piña colada while discussing a media plan with clients.

Is there any organisation that you would like to work with in the future?
Disney, in particular, Marvel! I love all Marvel movies and I feel so passionately about each character. I love how they celebrate people, differences, ethnicities, and values. I would definitely want to join the team and play a role in taking their stories to every nook and corner of the world. It is my lifelong dream, and it would be such a privilege to see my name in the credits for one of their movies!


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