Ad land’s Young Guns: Neha Nandakumar, FCB Ulka

Neha Nandakumar, Brand Services Executive, Client Servicing, FCB Ulka, is interested in everything to do with advertising, client servicing, media planning, the digital world and event management. She started her career in advertising as a management trainee with FCB Ulka, after acquiring an IT engineering degree and an MBA in Media & Communication from Symbiosis. 

Nandakumar believes that media is taking over everything and this industry keeps her interest going always. 

What does it takes to climb up the ladder in advertising? Here’s Neha Nandakumar in her own words... 

How did you get into the role you are serving?
Post my MBA in Communication Management, I joined Lodestar UM, the media arm of FCB Ulka. After 8 months into media buying and planning, I decided to explore the creative side and so moved to mainline advertising, into a client servicing role. 

Here, I got a chance to work with some of the most brilliant advertising minds. 

What particular skill sets do you think you bring to the table?
I love advertising! My stint at Lodestar UM helped me primarily in number crunching, which, in turn, helped me understand the basics of analysis, sales and collections. I also enjoy brand building and crafting strategies, which help in decoding behaviour change and create a unique customer connect and experience. Surpassing client expectations, attention to detail, time and resource management, I believe are my strong points. 

One campaign that you have worked on that you are particularly proud of? Please take us through the making of the campaign.
The Tata Hexa campaign, a recent one that I worked on, makes me proud. This is really close to my heart. The challenge was to build a brand from scratch and give the brand a life and soul. The task was not only to highlight the features of the vehicle, but also blend in lifestyle elements and stories. We shot at various locations and eventually created numerous ads and edits which did complete justice to the vehicle and its stories. This was a pleasant change from the usual automobile ads that we see in India, thus increasing impressions and eventually sales. 

While working on the creatives how do you prepare yourself? What goes on in your mind?
While building a brand and sustaining it, delivering the right brief well plays a very important role and post that, the creative team certainly plays a pivotal role. Since strategy and creative go hand in hand, brainstorming with the creative team, providing a direction and making sure that the brand is integrated and portrayed well, is needed. 

Icons in advertising you look up to and how they have influenced you and your work?
Philip Kotler and my marketing Professor, Mr Chandan Chatterjee, have definitely influenced me. I have been lucky to have worked closely with my senior management – Rohit Ohri, Nitin Karkare, Swati Bhattacharya, Nandini Dias, Keegan Pinto, Saad Khan and Kulvinder Ahluwalia. They have taught me how to take a disciplined approach towards brands, strategies and all business requirements. 

I also love the work of Prasoon Joshi and Nitesh Tiwari. 

What are the five most productive things that you do in your everyday routine?
Exercise – This helps me stay active and gives a feel good factor all day. 

Read – My curiosity levels are very high. This makes sure that I am always getting to know something new every day. 

Engage with all teams – Other than work, I make sure I connect with my colleagues and discuss various topics. This helps in creating bonds even outside of work. 

Daily Status Report – To ensure that all deliverables are completed and delivered within timelines. 

Social Media – Making sure I keep in touch with friends, leisure time and staying updated about current affairs through social media. 

Do you think a career in advertising is a viable one in the long term?
Yes, personally, I think it is. Opportunities to meet the best creative minds and advertising stalwarts definitely show a unique perspective of the world and will surely help people and brands grow. 

What does it take to succeed in a career like advertising?
Patience, commitment, creativity, strategy, knowing industry trends and logic are a must. And common sense, of course. 

What would be your advice to youngsters planning to enter this industry?
If you’re committed and giving it your best, the rest will follow. 

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
Building many more brands and working towards more amazing work. 

Is there any agency/ organisation that you would like to work with in the future?
I am quite happy now, but I would love to explore digital, e-commerce, fashion and FMCG.


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