In the information age, 50% of what we learn is obsolete within 2.5 years says Shreesh Tongaonkar, Syndicate Group

Shreesh Tongaonkar, Marketing Communications Manager at  Syndicate Group, Goa and MDP Alumni of IIM Calcutta shares his take on the absolute need of upgrading your skills, Learning and unlearning and re-learning in an exclusive interview with XEDGlobal 

Tell us about your career so far...

I started my career as an SEO and rose the ranks in different aspects of digital marketing, specialising in content due to my flair for writing, and my love for reading and research. I have written, reviewed, edited, and published over 11,000+ pieces of content that include articles, blogs, case studies, product reviews, descriptions, user manuals, white papers, entire websites, technical documents, and learning materials, and have overseen their distribution over different digital media platforms.  

How important do you think is continuous learning?

We live in the information age, and 50% of what we learn is obsolete within 2.5 years, so continuous learning is an absolute must in today’s corporate environment. When I started off as an SEO around 11 years ago, we had to learn, unlearn, and re-learn SEO strategies in response to every update that Google used to make to its search algorithms. Today is no different. Consumer behaviour, organisational behaviour, B2B communications -- everything is changing at a rapid rate and continuous learning is imperative for every marketer, as well as for organisations, to remain relevant with the times.

What are some of the key challenges you face in your job in terms of managing people?

Managing people is not always about managing juniors or those reporting to you, it is also about cross-departmental collaboration, managing seniors, and those in management positions. The key for a manager is to act as a bridge between their teams and higher-ups and get work done from both, for driving organisational growth. The key challenges here arise due to two parties not being on the same page, and ineffectual communication between stakeholders. Convincing the team or the management for a particular course of action can get challenging if they don’t have the same exposure to you. The best course of action that I have found for overcoming this is to make a point and offer supporting data. Juniors or seniors, no one can refute a solid case based on data.

What made you pick an executive education programme on Advanced Marketing skills at IIM-C?

 I took up the APMP programme to get an overall broader idea of marketing as a full function as I felt that I was limited in a niche silo of digital marketing and platforms. As I looked forward to taking up broader and managerial positions in marketing communications, I felt that this course would be the right choice, and I am happy to say that it has turned out to be so.

Can you give a brief about the executive programme you attended?

The APMP (Advanced Programme for Marketing Professionals) is a one-year programme from IIM – Calcutta for experienced sales and marketing professionals. The programme requires you to pass a PAT (Programme Aptitude Test) and write an SOP (Statement of Purpose) as to why you wish to do this course. The programme kicks off with a campus visit at IIM-C, where we get to meet other fellow participants in person and get a feel for what it is to be a student at IIM-C for 3 days. The remaining classes are conducted live and online, for the next year over the weekends, in designated partner institute centres. We always had casework to prepare before coming to the class.

What were your key takeaways?

Massive learnings follow through the in-depth coursework on a variety of subjects.With the length and depth of the topics covered, from over 50 case studies prepared by Harvard, Oxford, Kellogg’s and other IIMs and more Ivy League institutions taught in the unique IIM way, we learnt a new data-driven approach towards problem-solving and decision making. Not all of this was covered in my MBA. Apart from the obvious subject matter learning, networking with almost 80 other sales and marketing professionals from different domains across the length and breadth of the country was a major takeaway.

Has the programme changed the way you approach your work? Has it helped you become better at your job?

Yes, it has definitely changed the way I approach different kind of work issues we come across on a typical office day. My strategising and decision making is better grounded in a data-driven approach. And on a lighter note, I have started using new jargon at work!

Do you feel that the programme gave you greater confidence?

Indeed, the amount of learning you get from more learning boosts your confidence for sure.

How would you describe your overall experience?

It has been a great experience overall. We got to learn all the subjects that are there in second year IIM-C’s original PGP programme, and then, some more.

What would you say to someone who is considering taking up this programme?

It will consume all your Sunday evenings, so be ready to sacrifice some Sunday programmes. Be prepared to read more on weekends, and better hone up your PPT skills.

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