Written by Vineeta Wagh – Lead – Product Marketing (Mi Brand) at Xiaomi India for Shenzyn
5 Things that helped me embrace a starkly different field in Marketing
‘Women don’t really understand tech’, how often have we heard this? There are zillion stereotypes that surround us and this is one of them. To be honest, I too was intimidated with this thought. While I have always been fascinated with Marketing, the thought of shifting my career from fashion to tech marketing took a long time for me to decide. But we like breaking stereotypes and how!
One of the interview questions I was asked when I was making my move from Zivame to Xiaomi was, ‘Would you be able to make this shift from a category like lingerie which will come so naturally to a woman, to technology’.
For a moment, I also thought to myself ‘maybe, this is not for me’. But come to think of it, taking this leap of faith was worth it.
When it comes to marketing, the first thing that you need to understand is – the consumer. The product comes later. And as long as you know the art of understanding your consumer – whether it is lingerie, tech products or anything on this earth, you can very well sell it.
Today in just 2 years of being at Xiaomi, I have been part of more than 50 product launches and thoroughly enjoyed every bit of it. With products like Beard Trimmer, Men’s Shoes, Smart home products, laptops and of course phones, I have gained immense exposure to products that I would never otherwise think of.
It has been such a refreshing experience to learn new things, be among a bunch of men and give a woman’s perspective on such products. There is certain empowerment you feel in being in an industry where you do feel every day that you are breaking the stereotype of ‘Tech is not for women’
I will try to put it in 5 main points that led me to a leadership position in an industry I never thought I will be a part of and what I did differently:
Whether it is a career change or an industry change, we women need to be more experimental with what we do and not get intimidated by things that we have been conditioned to believe. When you understand the fundamentals of something (in my case it was marketing) you do have the potential to turn things around. So go ahead experiment, you will learn on your way as long as you are open to it.
KNOW MORE THAN OTHERS EXPECT
Tech was new to me, so I made sure before I joined the new company, I downloaded and subscribed to all the tech apps, YouTube channels, and magazines. I read as much as I could about tech that was relevant to me. Every circle of friends will have that one ‘Geeky Friend’ who will know everything inside out about gadgets. I have one too. So I started having Tech conversations with him, asked questions, tried to understand a geek’s perspective on things related to tech. More than that I started observing my behaviour towards the tech products I used in my day to day life, and I could see how I slowly started liking what I was doing.
FIND YOUR BEST SKILL AND CREATE OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOU TO PUT THAT SKILL AT WORK
Very important. You will always have that one skill, you are super confident about. For some it could be interpersonal skills, for some it could be finding insights from tons of data, for some, it could be perfection at what they do. When you find avenues to support your best skills, the chances of you thriving and being able to stand out from the rest is higher.
For me, once I got comfortable with understanding products, I realized that content marketing and making people understand products with a personal touch will make a lot of difference.
I volunteered for creating the explainer video series where I explain the products in a lay man’s language. And I could do it because I was confident of a skill that would set me apart from the rest. To my surprise, I was the first woman in the company to be a product spokesperson on the Youtube channel.
BE A PART OF DIFFICULT CONVERSATIONS/DISCUSSIONS
Sometimes when we are new to a field, we avoid being a part of discussion or conversations which we feel we don’t have anything to contribute to. That is fine. We don’t have to contribute or state an opinion on everything. Sometimes keeping the fear aside and just being a part of conversations will give you good exposure to understand how things work. There are going to be biases and some people are going to try to put you down knowing you are new but don’t let that hold you back. Don’t hesitate or beat yourself down or be scared of being part of such discussions at the workplace. Always remember you are hired because they saw you fit for it.
FIND A MENTOR BUT ALSO BE YOUR OWN MENTOR
I would always recommend finding a mentor for yourself at work or outside. Whether it’s your personal life or professional, someone who gives you constructive feedback and directions at an early stage of your career works wonders. It motivates you and most importantly it makes you work harder.
However, if you find one, don’t hesitate to be your own mentor. Watch yourself, learn, observe, and grow. Put yourself in difficult work scenarios and think of how you will tackle them. Set smaller goals for yourself, be a badass when you need to be. But make sure you guide yourself through. And sometimes there are going to be dull moments, at such times just look for motivation around or more so just look at your journey and be proud of where you are.
It’s amazing how we can surprise ourselves by being open to new opportunities and seeing it the way we want to see, not defined by preconceived notions. Career shifts are fun, as long as you are willing to explore a particular field and keep an open mind, nothing can stop you!
One thought that has really helped me immensely, is the idea of doing things that are setting examples and inspiration for others. At any given point in time, there are going to be peers who are learning from you knowingly or unknowingly. This works as personal motivation, whether you are a woman or a man.