#MARKETECHMondays: Prashant Kala, Country Manager, ShopBack Philippines

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Before joining rewards and discounts platform ShopBack in the Philippines, Prashant was with the Philippine arm of India-grown restaurant aggregator Zomato for five years. 

What made him do the big shift? In Prashant’s words, he said he wanted to do something “different than what he was used to working on.” Having always been on the B2B side of things, he was looking for a project that will make him work on both B2B and B2C and stumbling upon Shopback, the opportunity on the platform gave him the challenge of not just building its partners but growing its users as well. 

Now the country manager of ShopBack, we sat down with Prashant to know more about his humble beginnings and the journey he took before becoming the head of one of the leading shopping platforms in the region.

First foray into marketing

Fresh out of a master’s degree, Prashant didn’t veer away too far from roots, and in fact, had his very first job right in the university he graduated in, as an assistant manager for sales and marketing in the Institute for Integrated Learning in Management (IILM) – Institute for Higher Education in Delhi, India.

Working with students as a target segment, he shared that the type of marketing the role had him doing was not in the likes of big advertising projects, but rather, more personalized.

“I was handling marketing for the college across North India and a couple of international markets. The whole focus was to attract a huge student pool to apply for our courses and finally assisting them with their admissions and courses,” he said in the #MARKETECHMondays interview.

“It was more about talking to people, [more about] community building; It was a lot about knowing exactly what people are looking at, [and more] of career development.”

On Mentorship: “Everybody has taught me something.”

When asked about his role models, Prashant struggled to name one particular person and said that he’s the type who seeks inspiration from every person he meets.

“Professionally, I have had a chance to work with some amazing people over the years and I would say everyone that I meet has been able to make me learn something new. I don’t really have one mentor for all aspects of my professional development but I seek advice and guidance from multiple role models in my life.”

That is at least, professionally. But when it comes to his personal values, he didn’t have to think hard and said he owed his good ethics to his parents and uncles.

“In terms of personal growth, I think my parents and my uncles have always been the biggest source of inspiration in my life. I have learned the value of hard work and most importantly, I have learned the value of how to be true to people who expect your feedback and suggestions in life no matter how harsh the truth is from my father and my uncles.”

“I’m still waiting for the greatest career success.”

It would be naive to say that with Prashant’s experience, he still hasn’t claimed success, but for him, there is still a greatness ahead that’s yet to be tapped.

“I really hope I find it later in life and not very soon as I really want to keep getting that rush of trying to get smaller successes, and I want to keep dreaming of [greater success]. I think that thought drives me every morning so I wouldn’t want to achieve it that fast.”

Of course with successes also come the failures. And still within the context of “great,” he believes there is no such thing.

“I won’t call any failure a great failure [as] every failure comes in with disappointments, and I don’t think we can categorize something [as great].”

“Instead of failures, I would say I had many challenges where I was unable to find a solution quicker which would have been ideal.”

Making that more specific, he said that the most critical setbacks were when good people leave your team.

“I have lost a few teammates in the past and that always sets your plan a few feet back but I think every situation teaches you something new, but one takeaway that one such setback gave me was to have a plan B but not to rely on it and give plan A 100%.”

He added, “Also plan B cannot be a totally different plan from A and they both have to be interconnected, else you are going to start from scratch which will push you to take a lot of reverse steps.”

Prashant’s words to live by: “Be a best friend to yourself.”

For Prashant, the secret to success need not be too far away from oneself, and the key is to be your own best friend, an honest and frank one at that.

“Keep it real, no matter how difficult it is, and be your best friend so you can talk real with yourself.”

“Best friends don’t shy away from telling you harsh truths. As a team lead, I try to be as real as possible with my teammates, clients and even [the] people around me. I don’t shy away in giving or taking feedback and I try to keep it timely, as well as even [to] myself.”

How about for those who are eyeing to enter the world of marketing?

Prashant said, “Read a lot, follow great brands and their campaigns, [and] take risks but always calculate what you want to achieve out of it. Always have the eye on the goal and do backward mapping, or back designing to achieve it.”

Watch the full video of this interview on our YouTube channel, going live today at 5:30 pm PST.

If you’re a marketing leader and you want to share your career experience to inspire the marketing industry, please reach out, we want to hear your story.

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