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Rising Star: Shresht Poddar, Sr Project Manager, Gozoop

A computer engineer by education, Poddar’s interest in digital media stems from his love for talking to people and getting to know their stories. He realised the ability of social media to reach out to people when the concept was still very nascent in the country. Poddar entered advertising by taking a chance and it has paid off

Shresht Poddar

A computer engineer by education, Shresht Poddar realised engineering might not be for him in the last year of his course. After graduating in 2012, he started freelancing as a correspondent for the music magazine Score.

“Alongside writing for them, I also started handling their social media accounts part time. This was also when brands had just started using media platforms as a medium for their communication.”

Poddar actually wanted to try his hands at being an assistant director but that plan, for some reason, did not work out. This was when he stumbled upon an opportunity at Gozoop.

“I looked them up and started reading up about their culture. The founders and their journey is what captivated me more than anything else.”

Poddar joined Gozoop in 2013 and has been with the organisation ever since. He has worked under various profiles in the organisation and considers Gozoop his experimentation arena.

“I started off in the social media marketing team, then I jumped to the digital loyalty products team and finally now I am in the tech team. The company and the founders have created this entire infrastructure where, if you realise that a particular space might not be your calling, you can experiment and you can branch laterally internally. Gozoop has also given me the opportunity to leverage my engineering base. For me, it has been exactly the space that I wanted to be in.”

Poddar’s interest in social media stems from his love for talking to people.

“I love getting to know people and their stories. At that point in time, I realised that through social media you are effectively crafting stories and crafting a particular positioning for a brand. Depending on the followers that each brand has, you can reach out to millions of people through the platform. It is really about the thrill of knowing that the effort you put in is affecting someone, somewhere, somehow.”

Speaking about the most challenging as well as the most fun project so far, Poddar said, “Phoenix Group wanted to build a new website for High Street Phoenix and they approached us. The question that really came to my mind when working on the project was ‘When was the last time anyone had visited the website of a mall?’ and that was the challenge we faced with this project.”

After much deliberation, Poddar and his team zeroed in on the insight that when people walk into a mall they do not necessarily know where exactly the shop they want to go is located or where the washrooms or other facilities are.

“People usually go to the central kiosk, which is sporadically located in the mall, or approach the watchman of some outlet to navigate their way around the mall. So to overcome this problem we decided that the mobile website and the desktop website for the mall should be different. The desktop website is very B2B-oriented and the interface we created for the mobile website was very much like a mobile application. People are already familiar with how to use a mobile app and so we took that comfort and used that in the website.”

The idea was such a hit that it was approved the moment it was presented to client.

According to Poddar, the fact that he hasn’t been confined to just one aspect of digital marketing is his biggest strength.

“I have dabbled in quite a few verticals of digital marketing, which gives me a more holistic purview as an individual. It enables me to see a lot of problem statements from multiple perspectives.”

Poddar is not a fan of the word weakness and believes people should be aware of their shortcomings and work towards improving them. The shortcoming that he himself has worked on and conquered was micro management.

“I used to be a massive micro manager. I was very hands-on. But since the team is expanding and I have a lot of people reporting to me, it has changed my perspective a lot. I have stopped being that hands-on. I have started to trust more and let people thrive in their own space. A leader’s responsibility is to create more leaders, this is something that Rohan Bhansali, our Director, keeps saying and it is something that I am trying to emulate.”

Being in the technology-creativity space, the one thing Poddar really likes about his profession is that there is something new to look forward to every day.

“Technology is ever evolving. iPod was the ‘in’ thing about eight years ago but today they are as good as redundant. Today, we have Internet of Things (IoT), so technology is advancing by the day and one needs to keep up with it because there are new surprises coming your way, every day. For me that is a great thrill.”

Poddar likes to compose music and bake during his free time. He is also trying to be a budding filmmaker.

Ask him where would have he ended up if not advertising and he says, “I think I would have wanted to explore filmmaking more. It is something that, at some point in my life, I intend to take out more time for anyway.”

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