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Meet India's 18 hottest student brand managers

Last updated on: July 28, 2011 19:22 IST

Meet India's 18 hottest student brand managers

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Divya Nair

Say hello to these young winners of the Nissan Student Brand Manager 2011 from across the country!

Eighteen management students from across 15 cities emerged winners of the Nissan Student Brand Manager Programme 2011.

The winners get an opportunity to be part of Nissan India's marketing division with a six-month internship during which they will receive a monthly stipend of Rs 30,000 each, along with Rs 20,000 as marketing budget to execute their exclusive branding initiatives to promote the Nissan Micra brand of cars in the country.

The NSBM programme is an annual initiative by the automobile company and offers a professional platform to students pursuing management studies to learn, experiment and implement their ideas towards promoting a given brand at national level.

In its second year of inception, the NSBM programme received close to 2,843 applications from first year management students from 450 colleges across the country.

The students were tested for their marketing and brand management skills through discussions, interactions and questioning by jury members based on the project submissions made by the finalists.

We caught up with the winners who share their experience of participating in the programme and tell us how they plan to promote Nissan Micra as an auto brand in India this year.

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Image: Winners of Nissan Student Brand Manager 2011

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'Watch ads, try to imagine and analyse board room discussions'

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Name: Akshay Anil Dixit

Tell us something about yourself.

I am currently pursuing my Management Studies in Marketing at NITIE Mumbai. I have completed mechanical engineering from BITS Pilani and also worked as a design engineer with HAL Bangalore for a year.

How has the Nissan Student Brand Management programme experience been for you?

It was an amazing experience, especially the hospitality they showed and the sheer scale of the event. The challenge was to present your solution in a short time of 10 minutes with conviction and confidence.

I was a bit nervous on the final day since I was the first one to present, but I told myself that I had a good case on hand, so let me go and raise the bar for the fellow contestants.

What management skills did you master from the programme?

I learnt a lot from this event, the approach used by other contestants, the tips given by the esteemed jury, the corporate training we had; but most of all to trust your own instincts.

What branding activities do you do plan to take up with the amount received?

I plan to use the money to create the maximum visibility for Nissan through activities like free ride day, ad making contest, danglers in strategic places like autos, taxis etc.

I also plan to create a comic book which would end in a cliffhanger and direct the reader to the Nissan website.

What are your career goals?

I intend to enter automobile or FMCG industry in marketing function, and later intend to pursue an executive MBA from a European University.

Do you have any suggestions for management aspirants?

You must read a lot of blogs on marketing and finance. Also watch a lot of ads and try to analyse board room discussions, as to what must have been the brainstorming for this ad, how the creative would have been designed.

Some of the books I would like to recommend are Brand Warfare by David Alessandro; Marketing by Philip Kotler; and to know more about Indian marketing culture and strategies, there is a book called 'This Is How We Are', which every one must read.

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Image: Akshay Anil Dixit

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'Think beyond classrooms, and engage yourselves in real-life situations'

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Name: Akshay Kanade

Tell us something about yourself.

I am currently pursuing my MBA from Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (NMIMS). I studied computer engineering from DJ Sanghvi, Mumbai (Computers).

I wrote a paper on 'Virtual Keyboard using Shadow Analysis', which I presented at an International Conference. I was the batch topper from my college.

How has the Nissan Student Brand Management programme experience been for you?

In one word: OUTOFTHISWORLD!!! I was slightly overwhelmed by the scale that I witnessed at the zonal rounds. My best moment was when Prahlad Kakkar looked at me and said: 'Very innovative'!

As if the zonals weren't enough to create a wow feeling, the final was at another level completely. The Trident, BKC where the event took place was awesome. The jury really grilled me on some of the logical statements I made.

However, I guess my 'Big' idea saved me (association with Sachin). I guess my passion and confidence is what got me through eventually.

What management skills did you master from the programme?

There is always someone who is better and more knowledgeable than you. Keep that in mind and give it your best shot, today and everyday.

What branding activities do you do plan to take up with the amount received?

Plans are rather elaborate, though not sure, if they are implementable. However, I am thinking of the following:

1. Responsible Driving Campaign: I plan to tie up with Mumbai Police to spread awareness about responsible driving and how driving under influence (DUI) can be extremely dangerous. I believe that colleges are the best areas to target as the age group of 20+ is most susceptible. The campaign will involve students signing a pledge that they will act as responsible drivers on the road.

2. Target F1 India GP: This is slightly broader in scope and may involve other brand managers from Mumbai region. The aim is to create awareness and interest in the first ever F1 GP to be held in India. If possible, screenings can be arranged at all colleges represented by the Brand Managers while events and competitions can be conducted on the sidelines.

3. Teaser campaigns within campus: Awareness needs to be created about the 'innovative' side of Nissan. So the plan is to have such 'many firsts' highlighted around the campus through posters and innovative insignia. This could be coupled with an online contest based solely around innovations at Nissan.

4. Race + Test drives: We can have a race between the different campuses using the Nissan Micra. The race is unique in the sense that not only speed is important but fuel economy and knowledge about bylanes/shortcuts are equally necessary.

5. Out of the world plan: To have a roadshow with Sachin driving his Nissan GT-R along Marine Drive. Money can be collected in the form of sponsorships from companies which can display adboards during the event. All money received will go as proceeds to an NGO supported by Sachin (possibly Apnalaya).

What are your career goals?

Right now, I don't have anything definite in mind; I am open for all challenges. My dream job would be to work for a Formula 1 team. Few years down the line, I would also love to start my own business.

Do you have any suggestions for management aspirants?

You need to believe in yourself. B-schools will never teach you how to do business. So, you need to think beyond classrooms, and engage yourselves in real-life situations; get exposed to the right surroundings, use your networking skills and abilities of your peer group appropriately.

Don't be afraid to take risks; try to think differently and out of the box, so that you can make a striking impression.

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Image: Akshay Kanade

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'My outlook at providing audacious but implementable solutions did the trick'

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Name: Amit Kaundinya

Tell us something about yourself.

I am currently doing my second year MBA in Marketing and Strategy at Xavier Institute Of Management, Bhubaneswar. I have previously participated and won at several other B School events but the NSBM experience was unlike any other.

How has the Nissan Student Brand Management programme experience been for you?

The Nissan Student Brand Manager provided me with a platform to hone my marketing and branding skills and to compete with the best in business.

The hospitality provided by Team Nissan and the 3-day 5 star experience at Trident, Mumbai was amazing.

Also meeting and networking with top minds from B Schools all over India and listening to so many wonderful innovative ideas was a rather humbling experience. Some of the participants were not from the so called "Top B Schools" but their ideas were so much closer towards reality than warped with complicated business models that made me realise that beauty lies in simplicity.

My biggest fear was presenting in front of such an esteemed jury of the likes of Prahlad Kakkar, Harish Bijoor, Renuka Kirpalani and many more. Especially for the zonal rounds, their presence (along with the lights and camera) made me really tense, as I did not want to be slaughtered by the judges in the Q&A round. But the fact that my ideas were appreciated by the judges gave me the confidence to give my best at the finals.

What management skills did you master from the programme?

I believe it was my strong grounding in Marketing, all thanks to the great faculty at XIM B and my outlook at providing audacious but implementable solutions that did the trick for me.

What branding activities do you do plan to take up with the amount received?

I am planning to host an auto quiz at inter-college level. The competition could be both online and offline to invite more participation from students.

I am also thinking of a safety awareness drive, for which a poster making competition will be held for kids and college students, as I firmly believe that it is kids of a family who influence the decision making process. If not influence, at least the message of Nissan being a safety-conscious brand will hit homes.

What are your career goals?

As of now I intend to work in a top consulting firm, I also have an inclination towards teaching and somewhere down the line may well end up in the education sector.

Do you have any suggestions for management aspirants?

Some of the books I would recommend reading for marketing management students would be 'Hidden Persuaders by Vance Packard'. It's a great book that will help you understand the sub conscious mind of consumers; it's unlike the direct, on-the-face marketing books we are used to reading.

Another interesting book is Art of Choosing by Sheila Iyengar. Besides, you need to participate in live projects and put your theories to practice.

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Image: Amit Kaundinya

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'Using the 'Shock and Awe' element worked in my favour'

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Name: Ankit Soni

Tell us something about yourself.

I am currently pursuing Master of International Business from University of Delhi. Having an immense interest in Marketing and Advertising, I want to make a career in the same, especially, Advertising.

How has the Nissan Student Brand Management programme experience been for you?

It was a once in a lifetime experience, where I got an opportunity to interact to people from various domains like Auto Industry, Media, Advertising, Consulting etc and also other fellow managers in the making.

The major challenge was the Grand Finale in which the case was of a new product which was unknown and we had to prepare an innovative campaign for it.

The thought process in my mind was to use the 'Shock and Awe ' element and to show basic things like the 'road side assistance' facility of Nissan of which people are not aware.

I think this worked in favour of me.

What management skills did you master from the programme?

In the training sessions we learned about basic Business Etiquette, media, the products of Nissan and advertising and brand position which was an enriching experience. Quick decision making; how media n brand proposition works.

What branding activities do you do plan to take up with the amount received?

I have thought of a few ideas like:
An Auto Quiz for UG and PG students sponsored by Nissan; an AD MAD competition for students by using various features of the three products; a Learner's Driving license camp sponsored by Nissan promoting safe driving in association with the RTO or Traffic Police, some outdoor activities at Malls etc.

What are your career goals?

I am very passionate about advertising and am also planning to join the industry after the completion of my MBA.

Do you have any suggestions for management aspirants?

One should read autobiographies. I would recommend the Autobiography of Jack Welch, besides Bill Gates, Lance Armstrong among others.

There is also this movie called Pirates of the Silicon Valley, which documents the rivalry between Apple and Microsoft and tells us how they became what they are today. Other interesting reads would be Freakonomics; 4Ps and afaqs.com; also, read about as many brands and business personalities as you can.

Get yourself involved in some creative activity so that your brain remains active all the time and you are never short of ideas in a given situation.


Image: Ankit Soni

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'Don't merely focus on academic excellence'

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Name: Aravind Haridas

Tell us something about yourself

Born in a well-educated, middle class Malayali family, to a father who is a Bank Manger and Mother, a loving homemaker, I am quite the ambitious person who loves to experiment and explore new things.

"I am prepared to try anything once." This quote by Sir Richard Branson pretty much sums up my philosophy of life. Travelling, long distance riding and driving photography and gadgetry figure high in my list. I am generally good with mastering software and applications, and can do a good job in creative designing using Adobe Photoshop.

I had delivered consistently good academic performance all throughout my life and I developed an interest towards hands-on execution and event management during my engineering days.

I was part of the core team of third year Mechanical Engineering students of Govt. Engineering College, Thrissur that conceived, gathered support and executed the event namely "Thrissur Motor Show- '05". It was a path breaking event in many ways, with its net revenue crossing six lakhs and the number of visitors touching 30,000 in a small town.

How has the Nissan Student Brand Management programme experience been for you?

NSBM 2011 has been a veritable learning experience for me. Right from the initial screening round to the national finals, the programme was organised in the most professional manner possible.

The rounds were conceived in a way to challenge the most creative minds in the country. The case given for the Grand finale was particularly difficult in that it was a very open-ended case and required a lot of customer research and intuitive reasoning, that too in a very short period.

Particularly difficult were decisions that had to be made on the basis of assumptions. I knew it would be a tough job justifying the same in front of a very keen and thorough jury. I consider it an honour to have had the present my ideas in front of accomplished judges like Hormazd Sorabjee, Renuka Kriplani and Prahlad Kakkar.

My best moment during the entire programme was when Ms Kriplani appreciated my presentation during the Mumbai zonal rounds of the programme.

We also had a lot of fun during the three day stay in Trident Mumbai. A visit to Ichibaan Nissan on the day before the presentations provided to a lot of participants some much needed ground facts and it also served as a good ice breaker for us.

Post event, all 18 designated NSBMs were provided a day's rigorous training, exposing us to the Nissan way of life and also on how various marketing functions of the company operates in a tough and competitive Indian car Market.

What management skills did you master from the programme?

The whole programme was meant to test our management skills. The second round of the competition wanted us to come up with new strategies.

We learnt how to evaluate a product with respect to its price, utility and target audience. My presentation skills improved greatly, as I had to be thorough with my fundamentals before addressing a highly competent jury.

What branding activities do you do plan to take up with the amount received?

Since I am currently in Pune and considering that there are so many colleges in the city, I am planning to organise a Photography competition which will require participants to highlight the importance of two brands.

Since college students are prospective customers, I think the activity will interest both Nissan and the participants.

What are your career goals for the future?

I had always been starry eyed about automobiles all throughout my life, and it had been my life's goal to work for an automobile major. Winning this competition hopefully would serve as the first step in the direction.

Do you have any suggestions for management aspirants?

Don't merely focus on academic excellence. You should participate in all kinds of extra curricular activities; you get to meet a lot of people during events and internships, there's a healthy exchange of thoughts and ideas which will widen your horizon.

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Image: Aravind Haridas

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'My creative and pragmatic thinking helped me'

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Name: Jaipal Charan

Tell us something about yourself

I am in the second year of my MBA programme at Indian Institute of Management, Indore. Prior to joining this programme I have worked as senior software developer for over three years.

I am a creative person with pragmatic approach and adore never give up attitude. I am an amateur photographer, with few national awards under my name. I love travelling and understanding various cultures.

How has the Nissan Student Brand Management programme experience been for you?

My experience with Nissan Student Brand Manager was an amazing and enriching one; all the rounds were very challenging and after clearing every round you feel happy for your accomplishment but at the same moment your start strategising for your next rounds as you know competition is only going to be fiercer.

In the zonal rounds, we were to chose only one segment and that itself was a challenge because ideas that were not limited to one segment and then I decided to choose the one which I found the most challenging and I chose luxury sedan segment.

The Q&A session at the zonal rounds was the best part of the programme; judges not only sought clarity of ideas from participants but also gave a very balanced and honest feedback about our work.

I think the key to zonal rounds was identifying the problems and then giving solutions to fix them. After making it to the finals, the biggest challenge was that without having any idea of the product to be launched, I was supposed to not only position it, but also design the two week marketing campaign.

I did a lot of market research and used a lot of what I was taught at IIM. Throughout this programme, we were supposed to give both out-of-the-box ideas and practical ones. I think my creative and pragmatic thinking helped me a lot. Presenting in front of such a big jury was never easy but I was confident that my hard work will pay and it did indeed.

Once I was in the top 18 who were selected as NSBM I had no doubts that it was one of the biggest achievements for me so far.

What management skills did you master from the programme?

Right from day one at the NSBM, our process of learning had started, we were groomed in image building, product training, media and marketing etc and I am excited about my association with Nissan for next six months as their students brand manager.

What branding activities do you do plan to take up with the amount received?

With the funds received I will not only plan activities focused on pushing sales up but also on activities which leaves a mark on people, which help Nissan build the brand, which will pay in long run.

I will design events which will be first of its kind and will use the amount to advertise the same in the right channels so that more and more people know about it and participate.

What are your career goals for the future?

I want to make my career in marketing and Nissan Student Brand Manager brought me a step closer.

NSBM programme will not only help me understand the roles and responsibilities of Brand Manager while continuing studies but also give me opportunities to implement my own marketing/branding idea.

Do you have any suggestions for management aspirants?

One needs to be very clear about which field one would like to make his career in, and once that is decided you need to stay focussed and put in efforts to increase understanding and knowledge of that sector, read as much as you can.

I would recommend magazines like The Economist, Forbes etc as reading a business magazine helps you develop perspectives. Taking part in various competition helps in gaining a lot of practical understanding of what one has to read in theory and is a must do activity.

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Image: Jaipal Charan

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'I have always believed in the power of ideas'

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Name: Jasjeet Singh

Tell us something about yourself.

I am currently pursuing PGPM Marketing at MDI Gurgaon.

How has the Nissan Student Brand Management programme experience been for you?

It was a unique opportunity to put the theoretical concepts learnt in class to real world problems and to get it all endorsed by an eminent jury.

The worst part was to keep up under pressure when the jury would blast you with questions.

What management skills did you master from the programme?

It was the great experience in thinking on your feet and keeping your cool under pressure.

What branding activities do you do plan to take up with the amount received?

I would like to achieve the two fold objective of increasing brand awareness about Nissan and increasing its market share in the Indian market.

To achieve my object, I would like to organise events that have a social cause so that it portrays Nissan as a socially responsible brand in the minds of the consumers. Other BTL activities will include product placements in events which have a high recall and are attended by a large number of people.

What are your career goals for the future?

I have always believed in the power of ideas. Coming from an engineering background I have always been fascinated by the application of ideas to the betterment of our lives.

In the long term, I see myself working in an environment where innovations are encouraged and pioneering ideas are free to find their way. My personal objective is to add value to the lives of people through innovative business improvements.

Do you have any suggestions for management aspirants?

Management aspirants who are interested in marketing should take part enthusiastically in competitions like Nissan student brand manger as it gives a holistic learning experience quite different from the class room teaching.

Competitions like these make us realise the importance of the management concepts and their implementation in the business. We get to know how to apply the models and the frameworks taught in class in the real world scenarios.

As students we should look forward to such opportunities that give us a platform to interact with icons like Prahlad Kakkar Sir, Harish Sir and Hormazad Sir and have our ideas tested by them. Their appreciation spurs us to work to the best of our potential.

Image: Jasjeet Singh

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'Stay tuned for latest trends, understand how companies are tapping them'

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Name: Moupiya Niyogi

Tell us something about yourself

I am currently pursuing my Masters in Business Administration from the Department of Management Studies, IIT Madras prior to which I worked as Assistant Systems Engineer at Tata Consultancy Services in the domain of IT Infrastructure Services.

I completed Electronics and Communication engineering from the College of Engineering and Management, Kolaghat under West Bengal University of Technology. I am also a Placement Representative at DoMS, IIT Madras.

My paper on 'Moving towards Convergence' was been adjudged as the Top 4 papers worldwide at Infocom 2010-2011 Conference, organised by Business World. I am also the Editor of MarkIIT's (Marketing Club of DoMS) blog juzmarkiiting.wordpress.com.

I have always been actively engaged with extra-curricular activities like compering, debates and cultural event management and her interests include blogging, writing poetry, listening to music and reading novels.

How has the Nissan Student Brand Management programme experience been for you?

Winning the title of Nissan Student Brand Manager has been a very proud moment for her and she plans to take this golden opportunity, which allows her to come in direct contact with the real-world consumer, very seriously.

Nissan gave us a platform to be imaginative; to project innovative marketing ideas without any barrier of constraints; to tackle mock industry problems while launching a hypothetical SUV during the course of the contest and now Nissan has bequeathed its legacy, its Brand name and image to its Students Brand Managers.

I admire the confidence that Nissan showed in amateurs like us and empowering us, more often than not, in ways more than one.

The course was not made a level-road but a rational creative off-road, if I may say so.

The zonal rounds were liberal in terms of the segments we choose but my toughest challenge here was suddenly jumping to the premium SUV segment of 20-25 lakh rupees when I was focused on the premium hatchback segment of 4-6 lakhs.

The customers at these levels are like two extremes and barely anything is similar in their tastes and preferences.

What management skills did you master from the programme?

They say, the journey is more important than the destination albeit, this journey has been as enriching as the destination.

I had to study in depth of the customer and seek answer to the question, "What would SUV customer paying 25 lakhs want?" I learnt that 'difficult is a tough word but surely it is not invincible'. A focused and streamlined hard-work can break barriers and even make you drive brands like a pro.

What branding activities do you do plan to take up with the amount received?

I plan to host a Photography contest at institute level in IIT Madras in the month of August. Thereafter, I want to integrate a Car-football Game with our business fest Samanway to make test rides fun.

The responsible citizen in me wants a Nissan traffic@ease Competition where B-school junta creates easy traffic tips on safety, fuel saving, noise reduction, etc in an interesting package of a one-minute ad which can be taken across the net, increasing awareness among the public.

What are your career goals for the future?

Marketing, as a domain appeals to me while Social Media Marketing was my chosen area of summer internship.

Do you have any suggestions for management aspirants?

Most of us often tend to stick to course books, formulae and bookish fundas but I believe this is a necessary but not sufficient exercise.

A holistic vision develops only when we can integrate the latest developments around us with age-old tried-and-tested techniques listed out in books.

I would ask all the MBA junta to observe their surroundings: see how promotions are being run at their nearest mall; what guerrilla marketing an FMCG brand is adopting across them; think what makes their favourite commercial so appealing and most importantly stay tuned to latest trends look into social media marketing, mobile marketing and how various companies are tapping these newbies.

I believe the marketing world is very dynamic and we, MBAs need to run faster each second to stay put at the same competitive edge.


Image: Moupiya Niyogi

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'Clarity of thought is important, besides persuasiveness in language'

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Name: Nikhil Ghare

Tell us something about yourself

I am pursuing MBA in Marketing from Welingkar Institute, Mumbai.

How has the Nissan Student Brand Management programme experience been for you?

The NSBM 2011 Programme was a great initiative by Nissan which has helped students from various B-schools across India to test their marketing acumen in the field of Brand Management.

Since the judges comprised esteem personalities from various walks of life, it was a challenge to present simple ideas to them. The most important part was that a proper reasoning was needed for every idea sufficiently backed up with facts.

All in all, it was an eventful and a learning experience.

What management skills did you master from the programme?

What I learnt is being a Brand Manager, is that you need to look to market your product using all those mediums to which the target group is exposed to everyday.

Clarity of thought is very important, besides being persuasive in your language.

For eg, while I was working on strategies to market the Nissan Micra brand of cars in India, which is priced a lakh above the regular cars in the same segment, I realised that as a marketer, I need to be technically aware of the product features before approaching the customer.

Being a mechanical engineering student really helped me relate to the technical features of the car. At the same time, you can't fool the consumer, so you have to be persuasive yet put across your points in a consistent and fluid manner.

What branding activities do you do plan to take up with the amount received?
The Nissan-Micra car is one of the only cars in the small car category that offers airbag, a push button start and roadside assistance, which means if you are out of fuel or the vehicle dysfunctions in the middle of the road, you can call up the toll free number and the engineers would assist/attend to your problem at the earliest.

One of my ideas would be to distribute balloons to school kids when they go home, their parents will see the balloons and want to know more about it. This way the message of safety even in a small car will reach the family.

What are your career goals?

I intend to be a marketing manager in future and would eventually like to become a brand manager for a reputed company.

Do you have any suggestions for management aspirants?

As a marketing student, like any other, I swore by Philip Kotler. However two months during my summer internship, I realised that marketing is beyond the realm of books.

In both marketing and management, we have to constantly modify existing strategies into new ones that are viable. I would have to wait outside a client's office for hours to fix an appointment or have an interaction. I realised that as a marketing student, one needs to have immense patience.   
I also follow the business stories on rediff.com.

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Image: Nikhil Ghare

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'I learnt that difficult things have a simple solution'

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Name: Prithviraj Rajendran

Tell us something about yourself.

I am pursuing a two year PGPM from Unitedworld School of Business, Hyderabad

How has the Nissan Student Brand Management programme experience been for you?

The competition was challenging to core. The parameters given to us were

Product: An SUV

Price: Rs. 20-25 Lakhs

Target Market: Above the age group of 40 years

Besides, the promotional plan had to be practical, executionable, have a long term effect and maximum reach.

To overcome these challenges, I stuck to the basics of marketing and worked on the following heads- Product Utility, Human Nature and Human Needs.

What management skills did you master from the programme?

I learnt that difficult things have a simple solution.

What branding activities do you do plan to take up with the amount received?

I intend to have online promotion activities on my college website along with similar endorsement activities in all the other campus of United World School of Business across India.

I am also planning to have product demonstration camps at various IT hubs in Hyderabad.

What are your career goals for the future?

I wish to create a successful career in the automobile industry, in the domain of Sales and Marketing.

Do you have any suggestions for management aspirants?

For optimal utilisation of the given opportunity and with the consideration of the scarce resources, it becomes imperative to know the functionality of the business world. And the secret is all about sticking to the basics, having humility towards our people and be future centric.

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Image: Prithviraj Rajendran

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'This time it was a competition with myself'

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Name: Priyanka Chordia

Tell us something about yourself.

I am currently pursuing MBA from Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies, Mumbai

How has the Nissan Student Brand Management programme experience been for you?

It's the fondest victory that'll go down deep in my memory, because this victory was unlike the normal competition victories, wherein I'm required to work on some idea/case study, etc and judged on par with other contestants.

This time it was a competition with myself, a test of my passion and determination which helped me strengthen my self confidence and self belief and it was a true exemplification of the saying that goes "jaa ko raakhe saaiyan, maar sake na koi" (If God wants to save somebody, then no one can bring any harm to that person)

The major challenge I faced was not to present good marketing ideas but to tackle the accident that I had to face immediately before entering the competition venue.

I was swung in the air (a la Matrix style) by a speeding car that rammed into me as soon as I alighted from the auto rickshaw outside the Trident Hotel. Along with a damaged right knee and left elbow, I had a huge cut on the left side of the skull that bled profusely and got me at the receiving end of 6 stitches on the head.

The accident, stitches, and heavy medications made the very dream of me being a part of the NSBM finale a distant dream. Irrespective of the finale results, I was very keen and determined to present my ideas to the judges in the final round. The efforts that I had put in to reach the finals helped me push myself and ensure I don't miss the finals.

And so I did. I reached the finals with a limp and heavy head, presented my ideas and yes, I finally did also make it to the only 18 Nissan Student Brand Managers.

What management skills did you master from the programme?

I take back a lot of learning from this event. Besides the self belief and determination, it was the co-operation and help of the entire Nissan co-ordinating team that helped me in my success. There came out the strength that a great team can provide.

I take back a lot of learnings from the experienced panelists and judges who with their immense experience patiently heard each of our ideas and also provided insights on how we can better the ideas. Our academic knowledge was given the much needed practical touch such that the ideas presented become executable.

What branding activities do you do plan to take up with the amount received?

I want to utilise this trust that the company has showered on me to work out activities and programmes that lead to the brand building of Nissan. This would mainly include the implementation of the ideas presented during the course of the competition but with the improvements as suggested by the eminent panelists.

What are your career goals for the future?

To become a part of the strategic decision making division of a reputed company.

Do you have any suggestions for management aspirants?

Be updated about current affairs. Read the Economic Times or any one business daily every day.

Keep yourself abreast with the basics of marketing and finance; participate in as many group discussions and presentations in college and outside. Also when you are with your group of friends, indulge in healthy debates to improve your confidence and broaden your outlook.


Image: Priyanka Chordia

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'Management is also about using one's intellect in a given situation'

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Name: Rathin Rawal

Tell us something about yourself

As a student of MBA (IB) at the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, New Delhi, academics and the pursuit of knowledge are activities that keep me glued to them all-day long. But the occasional competition and extra-curricular interests are what I devote my evenings to.

Additionally, MBA is all about learning that goes beyond the realm of textbook-based learning, and the plethora of live-projects aid us in getting a perspective on the challenges faced by practicing-managers.

In essence, an MBA is a platform for the overall development of one's personality, and I attempt to balance the academics with the non-academic value adding activities during the course of my study at IIFT.

How has the Nissan Student Brand Management programme experience been for you?

The experience provided by the organisers of the Nissan Student Brand Manager Contest 2011 has been a great learning opportunity, and I am grateful to them for having provided me a platform to interact with distinguished individuals, who comprised the eminent jury, as well as the brilliant individuals from my peer-group at other colleges across India.

The level of interaction with senior members of the Team Nissan was also another high-point of the programme, helping us to broaden our perspectives and not just look at the challenges from a purely theoretical viewpoint, but instead focus on the ground realities faced by firms in a challenging automotive market like India.

What branding activities do you do plan to take up with the amount received?

I am considering hosting a Learner's Licence Camp for students, wherein novice drivers will be tutored on safe driving tips and encourage a culture of safe driving among them.

In my view, activities like these shall promote Nissan as a brand that connects with its target audience and align the brand with the aspect of safety, an increasingly important parameter among today's youth.

What are your career goals for the future?

The future is an uncertain path, and one must take certain definitive steps in order to define the direction his/her career shall take.

The period of my study at IIFT has provided me with ample opportunities to pursue the path that shall lead to a career in a dynamic organisation, preferably one that shall fit with my passion for automobiles and technology.

Do you have any suggestions for management aspirants?

Management is as much about the theories propounded by various thinkers, as it is about the application of one's intellect in a given situation. Any management aspirant will have to bear the same in mind while in the pursuit of a career in the field.

As a management graduate, you will be exposed to a variety of circumstances, wherein the combination of a strong theoretical background and the ability to handle pressure shall test your mettle. People management skills/ relationships are what one develops over time and with practice.


Image: Rathin Rawal

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'Along with money, comes responsibility'

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Name: Ravindra Purohit

Tell us something about yourself

I am currently pursuing MBA in Communication Management from Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication, Bangalore.

How has the Nissan Student Brand Management programme experience been for you?

NSBM was a joy ride, enjoyed every bit of it .it had everything from excitement to tension from competition to glory. It was totally a fun learning experience, as I got the opportunity to meet such eminent people; interacting with them was a boon.

The visit to Nissan showroom and product training was very informative and helped a lot in understanding the products in detail. After the selection, the day long corporate training was an experience in itself and not to forget the bag filled with gifts, it was like the cherry on the cake.

Competition was at its best. The irony of the experience is that despite being competitors, every one had such a nice time together. We made so many new friends there. And the NSBM team handled everything so smoothly and efficiently, they made it very easy for us.

Yes, facing such a big and eminent jury and competing with such smart students was a challenge. But the whole environment was inspiring and healthy so we made our way till the end and achieved something that will be cherished for a lifetime. It was the time of my life, Thanks Nissan.

What branding activities do you do plan to take up with the amount received?

Along with the money, Nissan has also given us a responsibility. Right now, I have nothing concrete in mind, but I am working on several activities which will help Nissan grow as a brand in the Indian Market.

What are your career goals for the future?

In future, I want to work as a Brand Manager. I also have plans to open a creative agency to provide innovative solutions which will help in building new brands.

Do you have any suggestions for management aspirants?

I would recommend the book Integrated Marketing Communications by Mr Alan Dsouza, which covers all aspects of media, from advertising to public relations to news media. I also follow afaqs.com, exchange4media, brandquotient.com for online resources.

Besides, a marketing student should get involved in as many group assignments as possible; also read about brands, not just the good ones, also read about brands that were a failure and try to understand the factors that led to their failure. It's a great way to learn and will help you design your marketing and communications model better.

Image: Ravindra Purohit

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'Taking part in field events will help you use your skills well'

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Name: Reuben Philip Abraham

Tell us something about yourself.

I am currently pursuing my PGDM from IIM Kozhikode. Prior to joining IIM-K, I worked for two years with Deloitte Consulting as a Business Technology Analyst.

How has the Nissan Student Brand Management programme experience been for you?

The Nissan Student Brand Manager contest was by far, the most exhilarating as well as educative experience of this year. I had a fantastic run throughout and enjoyed every single minute of it.

The NSBM programme helped me reconnect with what I had studied in my first year of MBA in IIMK.

From branding to positioning to innovative marketing, the programme helped my realise how the concepts and theories that Kotler and my professors taught me, could be applied in real life situations. The final case given was fantastic and the limited availability of information on the product to be sold made the challenge very interesting.

In fact, I have already completed my first assignment. I conducted a Nissan brand awareness activity during a TEDx conference held at IIM-K which drew a footfall of over 1000 from across the nation.

The conference played host to a number of celebrities and eminent personalities from across sectors. A few of the speakers included Kiran Bedi, Dr. Palash Sen (Euphoria), Harsh Manglik (Co-Chairman Accenture India and Ex-Chairman NASSCOM), Dr. Satinath Sarangi (Social Activist and The Week's Man of the year Recipient), Gaurav Kapoor (Actor and VJ), Srini Rajam (CEO Ittiam Systems), Nitin Gupta (CEO - Entertainment Engineers) and others.

The Nissan Innovation wall drew comments from both the speakers as well as the audience.

What management skills did you master from the programmeme?

The programme essentially brushed our branding skills. We learnt more about how a product's brand positioning is important in a real life scenario.

Also, we got a hands-on experience about different marketing strategies for automobiles. Right from segmenting consumers based on their interests to finding the right group and communicating the message, we were acquainted to the real world marketing exposure.

What branding activities do you do plan to take up with the amount received?

As for the budget allocated for my project, I intend to spend them more on brand building activities as I feel that the Indian consumer needs to know the true value of the global brand Nissan.

What are your career goals for the future?

Post IIM-K, I intend to pursue a career in either consulting or marketing. I look forward to joining a firm which will both help me sharpen my skills as well as give me a chance to scale up the operations of the firm I work in.

Do you have any suggestions for management aspirants?

The Philip Kotler textbook is considered as the Bible of marketing, but unless you get on field and apply the concepts, you will not be able to gain the results of your knowledge professionally.

Also, taking part in field events will help you use your skills well. You must read a business newspaper; I recommend The Economic Times' Brand Equity paper, which informs you about how brand managers work.

Also when you are working on a project, read the company's website and do a thorough study about the market competition so that you can devise better marketing communication strategies.

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Image: Reuben Philip Abraham

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'I presented ideas that generated not just attention but also sales'

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Name: Ritesh Nagpal

Tell us something about yourself.

I am currently pursuing MBA in Marketing from Management Development Institute, Gurgaon.

How has the Nissan Student Brand Management programme experience been for you?

Nissan Student Brand Manager was a unique programme which gave me the opportunity to showcase my skills to the best in the business.

Along the way I faced many challenges such as the tight deadlines in each round besides trying to come up with innovative marketing ideas that had the ability to generate not just attention but also sales. The programme was organised with clockwork precision and the organisational skills of the Nissan Team warrants a special mention.

In order to present a deep and holistic analysis I used various sources for my research.

I employed various methods such as primary surveys, data gathering from published reports and viewpoints of industry experts to come out with my analysis of the luxury sedan and the SUV market in India.

What management skills did you master from the programme?

The programme gave me deeper insights about the market and the Indian consumers' perception about luxury sedans and SUVs.

The inputs provided by the jury at the regional and the national rounds enabled me to observe my analysis from different viewpoints. It has also helped me understand the importance of a strong brand in driving the sales and profitability of an organisation.

What branding activities do you do plan to take up with the amount received?

With the marketing budget received I plan to implement an online quiz competition to generate awareness and promote brand Nissan. I also plan to promote brand Nissan through various other campus based activities.

What are your career goals for the future?

In the future I endeavour to work in a position that entails managing a brand or a product category for an automotive major.

Do you have any suggestions for management aspirants?

Management being a precise business, it is imperative that business management aspirants should strive towards learning about the processes and management theories being used in industries than rely on books alone.

This will enable them to form a better connect with the business theories and enable aspirants to be better prepared for the corporate world.


Image: Ritesh Nagpal

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'I learnt how to give a clear and crisp presentation under an allotted time'

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Name: Ronnie Banerjee

Tell us something about yourself.

I am currently doing my MBA from Symbiosis Institute of Business Management Bangalore.

How has the Nissan Student Brand Management programme experience been for you?

Nissan Student Brand Manager 2011 was a dream event, which was conducted in one of the most exclusive locations in Mumbai the Trident at BKC.

The event was well planned and everything right from the accommodation for students and the way the main event was handled, was wonderful and an experience to remember for a long time. The jury members list read like a movie's star cast.

Presenting my ideas before such personalities, in a convincing manner was the most challenging task and also according to me the highlight of the event. What's more, The Nissan Group has given complete freedom to all the chosen brand managers to do whatever they feel is right, to power the brand, which has made the win even more special.

The orientation we had after the competition is where I learnt a lot regarding brand positioning, how and where market research is to be done and in what manner it is done by Nissan, the products and the message they carry.

What management skills did you master from the programme?

One of the key management skills that I learnt from the programme was time management. I learnt how to give a clear and crisp presentation under an allotted time.

The programme tested our analytical and comprehension skills along with our creativity and ability to justify our point of view. The programme was truly an enriching experience.

What branding activities do you do plan to take up with the amount received?

With the amount received, I am planning to conduct a wide range of events, both in my college and around the city, aimed at raising the brand awareness of Nissan.

The events would be innovative and will bring a fresh perspective in sync with the true essence of brand Nissan, which stands for innovation. It will make the Nissan brand more visible and thereby making people more aware about its products and services.

What are your career goals for the future?

In the future, I would like to work in corporate finance and strategic domain which would cover a wide array of responsibilities integral to the organisation.

My experience of being a Nissan Brand Manager would certainly help me a great deal in learning the corporate culture and getting a hands-on experience on how to handle and power a big international brand, just like Nissan

Do you have any suggestions for management aspirants?

The only suggestion I have is that students should definitely participate in this event the next year and also find out about similar events in their area of interest. It will be a good learning experience for them.


Image: Ronnie Banerjee

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'Start a club of your own; brush up your oratory skills'

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Name: Subir Pinto

Tell us something about yourself.

I am currently pursuing my second year MBA in Marketing from Sydenham Institute of Management Studies, Research and Entrepreneurship Education (SIMSREE). I am also a member of the Placement Committee at SIMSREE.

I like listening to music by U2 and Ludovico Einaudi. I love reading; my favourite authors are J.R.R Tolkein, Matthew Reilly, Robert Ludlum and Dr. Kalim Khan. I also like swimming.

How has the Nissan Student Brand Management programme experience been for you?

My experience during the entire NSBM 2011 competition has been a thoroughly enjoyable yet enriching one. To be one of the 18 selected candidates across India gives me a feeling of sheer joy.

The competition was gruelling and definitely did put me to the test. The judges were very spot on and precise with their comments. Their comments during the Mumbai Zonal Round made me push that extra bit even further while preparing for the Grand Finale.

What management skills did you master from the programme?

I would like to thank Nissan for providing me with this marvellous opportunity to make use of all my skills.

I have learnt how to be innovative and creative yet measured in my approach to solving a probable marketing problem.

What branding activities do you do plan to take up with the amount received?

I intend to make optimal use of the budget allocated to me while driving my marketing ideas. Also, given the fact that five of the eighteen Nissan Student Brand Managers are from Mumbai, we may look at working together on an initiative or two.

As of now, we are planning to conduct an Inter Collegiate Quiz competition followed by a treasure hunt along the lines of Amazing Race, a reality adventure show aired on AXN. This idea struck me because the Nissan car claims to trail through the congested roads in Mumbai with the motto of finding easier solutions to difficult problems; and I believe that the above activities will help establish the purpose.

I am also planning to host an event for the alumni of my college where I intend to promote the elite cars of Nissan. I need to check the feasibility of having an activation camp at my college too.

What are your career goals for the future?

I love to challenge myself given the chance and I see myself working in the field of Marketing. I would love to pursue a short stint in Sales followed by a role in Brand Management.

My potential sectors of interest are the Automotive sector, the FMCG sector and the IT products based sector.

Do you have any suggestions for management aspirants?

You must read a lot; especially books by Kalim Khan, Ziglar; Paco Underhill. Also read business newspapers, follow blogs like maketeers.in. You may also subscribe to Markathon, a publication by IIM-Shillong; besides reading as many Harvard business review case studies as you can.

Whenever possible, take part in group discussions; the best way is to start a club of your own and organise activities for its members. This will not only help you improve your presentation skills, but also boost your oratory skills, which is a must for every marketing student.


Image: Subir Pinto

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'I managed to make the judges smile with my unique ideas'

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Name: Viju Thoppil

Tell us something about yourself.

I am a student at Department Of Management Studies, Anna University, Chennai.

How has the Nissan Student Brand Management programme experience been for you?

I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Chennai zonals was fun and I managed to make judges smile with my unique ideas to promote Nissan Micra. I expected to qualify for finals and felt happy when results were announced.

I was visiting Mumbai for the first time. I had always admired Mumbai city for bouncing back every time some misfortune happens.

In fact, I was also happy to learn that I would be staying at Trident hotel because I thought it was the same Trident that was targeted in terrorist attacks. I always wanted to pay my tributes to the heroes. It was only later that I realised that this was a different Trident we were staying in.

Mumbai warmly welcomed me. It was the first time I was staying in such a big hotel and its grandeur intimidated me. The biggest challenge was to eat with knives, forks and spoons because I had never been to such a big event before.

The competition was intense and I was the last member to make a presentation. I was nervous but once I started presenting my ideas I regained my confidence. I had confidence that my ideas were unique and so I was confident I will be selected.

I am looking forward to an exciting career in marketing and believe that NSBM has given me a platform to showcase my skills.

I am grateful to Nissan for giving me this opportunity.

What management skills did you master from the programme?

I learned that thinking big, thinking creatively, and coming out with unique ideas is absolutely essential in a competition like NSBM.

In NSBM we were competing with the top talent from top B-schools like IIMs and IITs. So everyone was already smart, intelligent, and had good ideas. I was able to win because I could differentiate myself from the rest of the lot.

I guess this applies to brands as well. India being a crowded market of numerous superior goods, the brand that has a unique positioning will win eventually.

What branding activities do you do plan to take up with the amount received?

I am trying to come up with ideas that are unique and leave an imprint of the Nissan brand among youth. I am trying to organise a Robotic Race to coincide with F1's launch in India.

What are your career goals for the future?

I want to specialise in marketing and build a career in this field. Nissan has given me an opportunity to be a student brand manager. It will be great if they give me an opportunity to work with them after I complete my MBA.

Do you have any suggestions for management aspirants?

Corporate citizens in India are trying to engage the minds of B-School students. NSBM is a great initiative by Nissan.

Keep your eyes and ears open and make use of opportunities like these. More than winning, participating in NSBM has given me a huge learning experience, and an opportunity to meet with India's best students and fellow participants. I cherish those friendships I made and believe these experiences are more valuable than theory classes in management.


Image: Viju Thoppil

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