Hailing from Guwahati, Assam, Shahnab Ahmad, since his schooling years, had serious interest in mathematics and technology and participated in lot of mathematics Olympiad and science competitions. But his real journey took off when the sharp mind heard his calling towards data and analytics.
Having spent most of his formative years in Guwahati, Ahmad completed his schooling from his home city. For his higher studies he joined National Institute of Technology, Silchar, and enrolled in Mechanical Engineering. “It was obvious to choose my career path in engineering, as I always wanted to be competitive and challenge the status quo through technology integration,” Ahmad said.
From his engineering days, it was Ahmad’s hobby to learn and develop various technological and automated solutions to solve real-time problems. He found his true calling in data science, where he got to follow his hobby of learning and developing machine learning and AI solutions to innovate the process to build brands and create differentiated media strategies.
His exposure to data happened during his tenure in Mahindra and Mahindra where he learnt to handle data from the technical and marketing perspective.
“I got into the corporate work culture through my campus placement in Mahindra and Mahindra as an engineer. My fascination with data and technology grew during my tenure in this work place,” he said.
After two years in M and M, he went for MBA in Marketing and Operations. After that, he joined Percept-Hakuhodo as a media strategist in mainline media planning. “I successfully handled reputed brands such as MSIL, Canon, FedEx, Panasonic, etc., for a span of two years,” he said.
“Later I moved to Posterscope Group-DAN as Assistant Manager, Data Science. I knew this organisation would be a game changer for me as I craved to work in a fast-paced environment, where technology and data are utilised to grow business,” he pointed out.
In Posterscope, Ahmad not only created newer analytical frameworks and methodology but learnt sophisticated machine learning tools, to bring data in a previously data dark media industry in OOH space. “With the guidance and mentorship of Haresh Nayak, Posterscope Group MD, I was able to learn and create which has been an amazing experience and a great learning curve in Posterscope. Within two years of my stint, I was asked to lead as Head of Data Science and Media Strategy for the entire Posterscope Group,” he said.
Ahmad is an avid reader and has a special knack of reading non-fiction genre. Sometimes to catch a breath and be away from the daily routine, he goes trekking in the mountains on long weekends.
The likes of Martin Luther King Jr., Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, APJ Abdul Kalam and Dhirubhai Ambani have inspired Ahmad at various stages of his life. “The two pillars for my strength are my parents. No matter what the circumstances are, they are the ones who give me the strength and inspiration to face and battle all obstacles in life,” he happily said.
According to him, every phase of his professional journey was a phase of learning. While his previous organisation taught him to strive for excellence, be accountable and responsible for all tasks assigned, Posterscope gave him the platform to apply multi-disciplinary field knowledge and create solutions and solve age-old problems in the space of location marketing.
Ahmad’s biggest achievement so far has been to successfully bring in data, logic and scientific planning into an industry that was considered data dark. Some of the data-led out-of-home ecosystem and platforms such as OOHZone, programmatic ad-exchange R-OOH etc., have received immense accolades even at global scale. “We are now working hard to roll out some of our in-house built proprietary tools in APAC markets too,” he said.
His greatest work inspiration comes from Ashish Bhasin, CEO, DAN, APAC, and his mentor and reporting manager, Haresh Nayak, Group MD, Posterscope, South Asia. The passion and drive they bring to work every day inspires him and he tries to imbibe the same in his life every day.
He takes his biggest strength as his ability to apply various multi-discipline learnings and skills towards solving core brand and business problems in the media and marketing sphere. He also considers himself to be curious and hungry for more knowledge.
However, his inability to say ‘no’ to any new project is his biggest weakness, he said. “Because of this trait, sometimes I take more than what I can deliver within the specified deadlines. Not able to deliver on time scares me a lot and I end up working late nights to deliver within the timelines.”
Ahmad feels the best part about data science and strategy is that working for it is not monotonous. One is not restricted to one industry or domain and can expand his/her learnings and understanding to various categories and brand.
Speaking about making of a good data-centric strategy, Ahmad said, “A good data-centric strategy demands a data-led ecosystem that would enable media agencies to connect effectively and holistically with the target audiences, bringing in more and more enriching brand experiences. I believe that data, creative and media offerings not only need to work together but need to be underpinned by an ecosystem that everyone involved can use the insights to create great outcomes.”
“Most of the agencies work in silos when it comes to various media planning such as TV, print, digital, OOH, radio. At Posterscope-DAN, we are working hard towards developing one-of-a-kind ecosystem,” he further adds.
Speaking on giving advice to data and strategy professionals, Ahmad said, “‘Do it with passion or don't do it at all.’ One should never get bogged down with the struggles in life and work hard to acquire the right skill sets and learnings. There are many things that seem impossible, only that long till one does not attempt them.’’