As organizations continue to scale across geographies and verticals there is a critical need to ensure that the chain of communication is consistent and transparent across employees, customers and other stakeholders of the business.

Annapoorna Ramanath, our next pathbreaker, Communications Consultant, creates communication material, develops communication strategies and employee engagement activities for an investment banking firm, supporting them through marketing and branding.

Annapoorna talks to Shyam Krishnamurthy from The Interview Portal about beginning her career as a journalist and leveraging those skills in a corporate environment to put together robust marketing material for corporate firms as well as reaching out to children and engaging them through books, stories etc. 

For students, communication is a transferrable skill that focuses on the right and relevant messaging based on the context. Go for it if you love interacting with people through creative initiatives ! 

Annapoorna, tell us about Your background?

I was fascinated by the administrative services in high school. But as I grew older, I wasn’t sure if that’s what I wanted to do. I enjoyed literature, especially writing and journalism. But after my 12th I took up engineering; very strangely…because I still wasn’t sure of what I wanted to do. My interest towards communication and writing sharpened during four years of my engineering as I became closely involved in the development of the college magazine and other cultural activities. 

What did you do for graduation/post graduation?

I completed my engineering in Instrumentation and Electronics in 1999. 

What made you choose such an offbeat, unconventional and unusual career?

My career  is broadly focused on communications. In the past twenty years, I have traversed across the spectrum of communications. I was a journalist for a few years and then moved into corporate communications and marketing. I am now a communications consultant in a leading financial services firm. I enjoy ideating, developing communication strategies and creating communication plans for products/services and building overall communication strategy for a business unit.  Once I became a mother, I started to buy books for children. I would read to them and narrate stories. I was so fascinated by the world of children’s literature. This pushed me to starting Word Elephant – a creative communications program for children. I run a book club and conduct workshops for children on book exploration, reading, storytelling, writing etc. 

Tell us about your career path

My inroad into journalism was simply because I wanted to write for the newspapers! And when a sub editor liked what I wrote, a part time gig turned into a full-time job. 

I was thoroughly enjoying writing for magazines: meeting people, finding good stories, expressing myself creatively – it was a great high.

Although I would never like to encourage youngsters to put money over passion, my shift into corporate communications was to explore communications in a corporate structure and to make more money! 

It put me in a different orbit altogether. In my previous firms, I have worked on newsletters bringing in my journalism expertise to create some good employee engagement material. 

I have leveraged my interviewing and research skills to put together robust marketing material for the corporate firms I have worked for. 

Then my foray into children’s communications was simply a deep interest in children’s literature combined with my communication experience. I learn something new in every workshop that I do! 

How did you get your first break? 

In my final year of engineering I didn’t get through any campus interviews. Those days there were not many. Today, I believe it is a great opportunity for youngsters to get into the corporate job through a campus placement. 

I graduated and started looking for jobs. I explored Technical Writer roles initially and attended several job interviews but understanding the job description, I realised that this is not what I was looking for.  Then I saw an opening on one of the leading job portals that asked for a content writer who could write technology articles, CD reviews, game reviews and more. I applied and I got into Web Scribes. And I realised that content was a big opportunity during the Dotcom boom. Two months into the job, I realised I was enjoying the role!

What were the challenges you faced? How did you address them?

The first job is always a huge challenge, I see many graduates struggling to get a foothold while a same number seem to get in easily. 

My challenge was very internal, it was more about what I wanted to do. Where do I need to move from here etc.

My first job was very small – but the learning was tremendous. I think looking back, the key is being patient, learning as much as you can and constantly looking out for opportunities to both learn and grow. 

Where do you work now? Tell us what you do?

I am a communications consultant with a leading financial services firm. My job involves writing, creating communication material, developing communication strategies and employee engagement activities. 

A typical day involves editing communication, developing presentations, and interacting with people in my team 

I love working on employee engagement activities and interacting with people. 

How does your work benefit society? 

This is a very macro level question. I think of it this way: Do your job to the best of your abilities and if it is helping your team/organization meet their goals, you are getting there. 

With my communications program for children, I am really looking at ways to help children who may not have access to books/ communication exposure by reaching out to them. This is work in progress. 

Tell us an example of a specific memorable work you did that is very close to you!

Here are a few:

  • Interviewed a convict in judicial custody and wrote an article covering all aspects of the case during my journalism days. I also met celebrities/ important people in society, which gave me an opportunity to really understand them and their lives. 
  • Started an internal magazine in a leading software firm that covered stories of employees, their families, interviews etc. and it was really appreciated. 
  • Started a book club for children across the world during COVID times. It is on Zoom and I am so happy that I am able to reach out to children and engage them through books, stories etc. 

Your advice to students based on your experience?

Identify your interest areas, follow your dreams. Keep upskilling yourselves. I recommend two careers: if there is a way you can do a job and follow a passion, however small, in your free time – it is a great way to feel engaged and energized.