The first thing that strikes one about Rohit Kumar, Vice President at Kantar TNS, is his humility. As an ice-breaker you start with his steep rise up the corporate ladder. Rohit hastily sidesteps. You step on the gas. You speak of his phoenix-like rise from Research Executive at Kantar's IMRB to being VP at Kantar TNS, and he insists, "There's a lot more to achieve."
Rohit is from the Class of 2003 at Goa Institute of Management. In a freewheeling conversation, we covered significant ground on what it takes to stand out in an ever-growing environment of talent, techniques, and technologies. From brand loyalty to being a value addition to an organization and not getting typecast in a role, there is a lot to learn from the insights of this result-driven professional with a prolific career so far.
Early hiccups are part of the game
If you think strong professional careers skyrocket from day one, think again. Rohit admits to having taken the hasty decision of saying "Yes" to the first company that picked him on day zero of placements during PGDM. He realized his mistake in two months and started looking out. It was then that Kantar IMRB - the same company visiting GIM the year Rohit was graduating, but he had not appeared for the placement process - happened to him. He recounts, "When I took all the tests and cleared all the rounds with IMRB, they offered me a 6 months' freelance position for having missed the campus placement opportunity. I took it!"
In your early professional years things do not always fall into place. Rohit elaborates, "We talk a lot about earmarking our strengths. But it is an ongoing process throughout your career. You never get your strengths in legacy. They have to be discovered and the key is to always play to them." This is from the man who has so far spent 12 years with the company that had once hired him as freelancer.
Making the right career moves
Rohit has progressed up the success ladder with Kantar Group, but he has also worked with top names like Max Life and Bharti Airtel. He admits while brand loyalty matters, today organizations are keener on value addition by employees. As long as you gain momentum and motivation and the company gets ROI, things are good. He claims his PGDM training has been helpful in this regard and something he relies on till date: "At GIM, I was constantly put in thinking and problem-solving mode, which I need every day even now. Another important learning was the value of human interactions and hard work, which are at the heart of professional life."
GIM edge to his career
If things are left to themselves, they only get worse. Planning is not a fancy term, but is as important as execution. Rohit has incorporated these lessons, learned at GIM, into his professional life. As a responsible alumnus of GIM, Rohit advocates a two-way relationship to bring more value to the B-School and its students. His advice to students: "This is the time to soak up the basics but also ask curious questions. Learn to observe and observe to learn. GIM offers multiple papers - do what interests you. Take command of MS Tools, because the corporate world thrives on them. You are in the best place to get a head start in your career."