Vishwas Anand handles Content Marketing and Communications at Infosys Knowledge Institute, the research and thought leadership arm of Infosys. He is responsible for digital content publishing, personalized user experience and SEO best practices across Infosys, insights along with external communications to prospects and clients.
Vishwas Anand did his full-time MBA from IIM-Kozhikode in 2014, and has been in the B2B marketing field since then: first with Aspire Systems and now at Infosys. Before his MBA, he worked for a couple of years with Aditi Technologies as a software engineer.
His passion in the content marketing space has helped him in wining many awards and recognitions: being listed as one of the top 25 Innovators across the Asia Pacific in the Holmes Report Class of 2019 alongside luminaries like New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern.
Some of his other recognitions include: JAPAC’s Top 13 Content Moguls by CMS Asia 2019, “The Greatest Marketing Influencers” by The World Federation of Marketing Professionals, “Most Influential Content Marketing Professionals” by the World Marketing Congress, Brand Leadership recipient by CMO Asia, and an awardee of LinkedIn Content 50, Oracle FAST 100, Adobe Content 100 among others.
Vishwas has spoken at conferences like the World Marketing Congress, Oracle CMO Roundtable, invited for guest sessions at IIMs, interviewed by leading brands and written for reputed publications.
- Was choosing this career what you intended as a student? If not, what was your interest in the days of your studenthood? Also, what changed your mind/direction?
No, choosing this profession was certainly not on my mind when I was a student. I was confused between being a pilot and an astronaut. Ironically, in my sixth grade when I had such aspirations, I wasn’t even good at flying a paper rocket. As I grew older, I realized that my interest lay in math, english and science. My family had great diversity in professional experience. We had lawyers, doctors, civil servants and social workers among us. In a country like India where almost every family had at least one engineer, my family had none. Just to clarify, this wasn’t even a reason why I chose engineering. I went by what my strengths were: math and science. I knew english would have a calling during a different phase of life, my MBA. I composed poetry during my MBA and wrote for the digital section of the Washington Times.
As a software engineer at Aditi Technologies, I knew what I didn’t want to do: coding. I also discovered what I wanted to do: it was at the intersection of writing, analysis and branding. I had the writing flair from my early childhood of writing articles and poems, an analytical bent of mind to make sense of authentic information, and an ability to brand the topic or story with credibility. This is what shaped my future aspirations and it took one meeting to change the course of my career.
- Tell us about your journey to become the current you in details. How did you reach the position that you’re currently at?
Initially I was very shy and timid about a lot of things in life including the choices I made and didn’t fuss too much about anything at all. I knew what I liked but was okay even if I didn’t get what I wanted, often resigning those choices to destiny. I was like that until engineering. During my engineering days at NIE, Mysore, people would exploit me to do their assignments. I was fine with helping fellow students but also learnt that it was not enough to be articulate, it was more important to be vocal and stay grounded when it came to setting boundaries or even defending my ideals in certain cases.
During my MBA, I slowly became passionate about setting those boundaries so that I could do justice to my abilities. MBA was a grilling course at IIM-K that taught me a whole lot more about pushing my own boundaries further and yet knowing where my weaknesses lay. I was probably the only one on campus who managed to keep a morning routine at that time and have never skipped a breakfast. I believe good routines are hard to displace and when you keep at it, they become habits for life! Be it corporate or academic life, I try my best to stick to a routine of waking up by 5 AM. This made me the person I am today.
When you operate with passionate dedication and integrity towards your life and work, it becomes a formula for success to bring exciting opportunities in your career too. I always viewed and treated my work as something I loved doing. It was not without its challenges but for the most part I believe if you keep a good head on your shoulders nothing can shift your focus away from your goals. A lot of moments will present themselves for you to take charge of and own. One such defining moment was when we had a meeting with my previous company, Aspire Systems’ CEO Gowri Subramanian along with my ex-boss, Raghunath Vijayaraghavan who was the marketing director, sometime in 2015. This was before Edelman and LinkedIn started measuring the impact of thought leadership on B2B brands. I mentioned to our CEO that content was planned in an ad hoc fashion and we needed to have a documented, consistent approach to thought leadership content creation. He was kind enough to let me set up a thought leadership marketing team from the ground up.
- How important is early career counselling and career planning in the life of a student? What are the main things that one can achieve if he takes professional unbiased career advice early on in life?
A student goes through so many moments at different stages of their learning and interactions. A lot of times those moments can lead to frustration and confusion. Without timely and meaningful interventions, students won’t be able to make an informed decision based on their true passions, strengths and weaknesses. Early career counselling helps students assess – and periodically reassess – their preferences, strengths and weaknesses. The best career advice will always be a mirror to the student’s future reflecting through the rearview of the past to guide the present in an unbiased manner. The student will emerge stronger with the right guidance and build on their prospective career with confidence and trust in their abilities.
- Do you think it is important to understand your personality and abilities before selecting a program to study? It will mainly be your studies that will determine your future career. So, how important is it to make the right choice at this juncture?
Personality is sometimes overrated when it comes to selecting a program of study. I believe when you’re passionate about something, you would naturally want to use your personality to your advantage. One of the most common myths is that certain stereotypical personality types are not meant for certain professions. For example, introverts are not meant for sales. On the contrary, some introverts could have the best expertise on sales to influence decisions around a purchase. Personalities can be adjusted or tweaked to make that passion meet purpose consistently. So it is more important to understand your abilities in a particular field of interest and accordingly tailor your personality to suit that role. Gaining knowledge and expertise should be foundational to selecting that path that would define the future.
- How important is it to have exceptional marks in your board exams to craft a successful career in the future?
Exceptional marks in board exams give students more choices when it comes to selecting Tier-1 colleges. However, this doesn’t naturally translate into a successful career unless, of course, it’s an academic professional choice that requires a solid academic background. I’ve seen students with average marks excel at the workplace because they have other skills like the ability to practise compassion in a high-strung workplace or just being an authority on the subject with the right attitude to bring in positive change. Team work is not often practised due to a high focus on individual marks in board exams.
- What should a student focus on more; gaining new skills or performing well in academics?
A student should focus on gaining new skills so that they have enriching experiences to look forward to armed with the wisdom gained. As I explained in the previous question, academic performance can give one the necessary negotiating power in choosing a college but at the workplace this won’t translate into good performance unless you develop suitable skills that become a habit once you reach a dynamically changing workplace. Academics won’t be able to fulfil all the dreams and aspirations of students because they won’t apply 98% or more of what they studied unless they pursue a field that requires such knowledge. But even such knowledge needs to be constantly updated. Effectively, it’s what do you with the knowledge to make it a valuable asset to your learning together with necessary inter-personal skills for fruitful collaborations that will stand you in good stead.
- How important are internships for students, and how much time and effort should students put in finding and working on relevant internships?
Internships give a glimpse into a corporate but such experiences should be viewed as short-term, fast-paced learnings. While internships can give students a good foundational knowledge and working relationship, they shouldn’t be disillusioned into believing that such experiences would define their future corporate journey. Short bursts of relevant internship opportunities are necessary as they provide a launchpad for students and an evaluation point for employers for a win-win equation. It’s very well if the student gets a full-time job from an internship that works out but if it doesn’t that’s also a win. It is a win in discovering where the student can improve on the skill-set mismatch. External factors can also come in especially during hard times if employers don’t have the resources to fund a full-time opportunity but the student can take back valuable lessons from that internship. The best internships will be designed to bring in good dividends for all stakeholders.
- Should students think beyond a conventional degree and enrol in different online and in-person skill building courses? If yes, why? If not, why?
I believe conventional degrees are still necessary as full-time courses are designed to handle multiple dimensions of interaction. However, learning should happen beyond the classrooms for a student to gain access to a whole new world of learning that isn’t defined by a set of boundaries. This will shape and reshape the students perspective through a global view, and they can see the problem being solved through the lens of so many more experts in so many new and different ways. Learning beyond the traditional classroom can also help develop other skills that wouldn’t be taught otherwise.
- Beyond the conventional career such as doctors and engineers, what are the top 10 careers that a student should think about in your opinion?
Apart from doctors and engineers, a student should think of the following career options: artist, dancer, teacher, scientist, researcher, social worker, pilot, astronaut, air hostess and architect to name a few career choices. When we pursue our passions, it doesn’t matter whether they’re unconventional or not. You just need to own your professional choice and justify it to yourself, not to any other individual.
- Is it wise to have a list of careers or occupations to choose from in your mind while starting out, or should a student have one goal and focus on it?
I believe students just need to understand their interests and passions first and then take guidance on what occupation suits them best. The focus should be on gaining knowledge and expertise on subjects they’re passionate about in addition to new skill development. A lot of times, you can make that career shift to take your career down a certain path. However, it’s always important to know what you’re not good at as much as it is necessary to know where you can harness your best potential.
- Most students in India are under constant pressure from parents, society and peers to achieve specific things in life. But many times they are not able to achieve what they desire. This results in low self esteem and sometimes in depression. What is your advice to such students who fail to achieve what they had expected to?
Yes, this is very common in India when external factors and circumstances tend to dictate a career choice or an achievement benchmark. In my own case, I didn’t take a traditional route after my MBA when I took up B2B marketing and then created a niche expertise in the thought leadership marketing space. Early days were hard when I was building the team from the ground up and didn’t have many live examples of how to go about it because none existed. I would desperately want to turn to firms that were successful but didn’t know where to look. This was a blessing in disguise as it helped me learn the ropes on my own. I still find it hard to describe what I do to the people I meet but I’m proud of the expertise I’ve built in my own area of interest. Similarly students would face difficult situations when people on the outside are judgmental about their failures. Students must realize that being judgemental is often easy and such people have only benchmarked success by conventional standards, not a yardstick that defines every unique individual’s capability or strenghts. Failure is an integral part of the journey to achieve your end goal provided you’re passionate about what you’re doing.
- Indian parents have a tendency to push their children to achieve the dreams that they themselves could not. This might sometimes result in negative stress in the child. What is your advice to such parents?
It’s good to have dreams for your children but ultimately it’s your children who need to live their own dreams. A few famous lines by Khalil Gibran come to mind:
“Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself… You may give them your love but not your thoughts, for they have their own thoughts. You may house their bodies but not their souls, for their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow…”
So the only advice comes from the great man himself, let your children’s souls dwell in the house of tomorrow.
- What is your advice to Indian students who are on their journeys to make their dream careers become a reality? What are the habits they should form and what are the things that they should stay away from?
A number of obstacles might come your way while making your dream career a reality. For me, it was doing an MBA as my first company didn’t have a marketing opportunity. The best habits to develop is integrity and a passion for a disciplined routine so that you get better and better at your game, and of course great resilience to bounce back from failures. This will teach you a number of lessons along the way.
Stay away from negative and toxic people who keep saying you’re not good enough to achieve something. Constructive criticism is fine but toxicity bogs you down as it is demeaning to the individual’s state of being. Bad habits like excessive drinking or smoking is best avoided as a student.
- What is your opinion of the work we are doing at iDreamCareer?
I always believe the right guidance offered by platforms is a blessing for students in a dynamic world of changing career priorities. iDreamCareer is one such platform that has excelled in guiding students choose a path best suited to them with interventions into how best to channel their energies to reach their destination, while enjoying the journey.
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