W'day Spl'13 | Proud to be an entrepreneur: Rickshaw's Shormistha Mukherjee
She describes her outfit as ‘small and furious’ communication and design agency, where the team believes that they are there to use their creative and strategic skills to solve a problem, to create conversations, to connect with consumers and of course to build a brand. The agency in mention, Rickshaw Communication & Design – strange name for an advertising agency, is it not?
On being asked about the name to its creative partner, Shormistha Mukherjee. She said, “What is the first thing you think about Rickshaw? Those who have no respect for rules. Perfect. Sounds just like us. So does everything else about the Rickshaw. Vehicle of the people. Trend setter. Uber cool or very mass, depending on how you look at it. Goes places others can’t. Agile. Flexible. And of course, when you’re in a jam, much better than anything bigger or fancier.
So that’s us.”
Mukherjee has had an illustrious career so far. She has travelled in big buses of advertising, Saatchi & Saatchi and Leo Burnett before hoping into Rickshaw. Adgully spoke to this utterly creative mind on the eve of Woman’s Day and came out highly impressed. Following are the excerpts of the conversation.
Adgully (AG): How would you describe your journey?
Shormista Mukerjee (SM): It's been a great ride. And I've been really fortunate to find what I love doing. And I've been even more fortunate in the fact that I'm super impulsive. So after years of being in an agency, when I decided that it was time to move out and do something different, I didn't think, I just took the plunge and what a super time to do it when the rules were changing everywhere; in how we consume information, in how our reading and viewing patterns have changed, in how screens have just taken over our lives. How filters, sharing, 140 characters have changed everything. And my journey just got more fun, more challenging...but just so much more like me.
AG: What kind of problems or challenges did you face in the initial years? How difficult was it to get a breakthrough in the industry?
SM: Actually, I hardly faced any challenges or problems. Like I said, I was lucky. I love what I do. And that's true from day one. And that really helped. I could redo things, work late, handle crazy deadlines...all because of that. Plus my first job was at JWT (then HTA) Calcutta. And it was an amazing place to work. In my first year I got to work on the cricket world cup which was then sponsored by Wills. And we were a team of the most junior people who created every single part of the campaign, from a sticker to big ticket films. And I got full credit, recognition etc. So ya, every agency I've worked in has been fantastic in that respect.
AG: How has the industry evolved in its outlook towards women in today's time?
SM: Look, the truth is that sometimes the advertising industry feels & behaves like a men's club. You look around, you see so many bright, talented women. And you wonder why the ad clubs are full of men. Why the top brass of most agencies are men.
But that's bound to change. Because the whole industry as it is going through a transition. The traditional agency system, the CEO system, the same faces at the ad club system, it all has to change. Agencies and the industry cannot remain what they were even a year back. And I suspect with this change, we'll see more women on top, in the hot seat.
AG: There must have been many milestones in your career, one specific achievement that made you take pride in yourself as a woman.
SM: I take pride in the fact that I'm an entrepreneur, a creative person, a person with no respect for rules and someone who loves and is interested in at least 50 things all at the same time.
AG: tell us about your current role and that one thing which gives you a maximum happiness in a day’s work?
SM: I'm a partner in two totally kickass companies; Rickshaw and Flying Cursor. We're in the business of creating conversation through disruption. One is a creative agency and the other is a creative digital agency. And both create communication that's insightful, creative and delightful. We work with influencers, change makers, cutting edge artists, film makers and partner with likeminded people. How much more fun can that be?
AG: Is there anything specific you would want to do to bring about a change in people's perspective towards women?
SM: I think as women we're more crafty. We know when to push and how to push. We can be determined, stubborn, agreeable, malleable, and get what we set out to get. If more people recognised that, they'll just find it easier to deal with us!
AG: What is your advice to the aspiring young women professionals wanting to make it big in the corporate world?
SM: Only one piece of advice, and it applies to both men and women. Just love what you do. And the rest will follow. | Aanchal Kohli [aanchal(at)adgully.com]