Things I didn't know about an FMCG Marketing Career when I graduated from B-School

Updated: May 31, 2020

I graduated in the year 2013 from IIM-Indore. I had joined the program with an intent to specialize in finance. I topped my first term course in finance and also realized that I wanted to be in marketing instead. Seven years down the line, I understand there were still quite a few things about a career in FMCG marketing or marketing in general that I hadn’t thought about at the time. I do hope today's graduating class is better equipped than I was, but in case it helps here is a list of things I didn’t know about a career in FMCG marketing when i graduated from IIM-I.

1) More often than not you don’t know what your everyday job is going to look like.

Most FMCGs recruit candidates without prior work-ex and while the JD might sound interesting it seldom gives the clear picture. A JD for a role is more like a resume from a candidate. It tells you the key highlights but it doesn’t tell you what you need to do day-in day-out.

For example: A common misconception among aspirants is that, they assume the role of a creative agency to be that of a brand manager. To be clear there are ad agencies, PR agencies, Media planning agencies, activation agencies etc.to conceptualize and execute the ideas for your brand. Your job primarily is brand strategy which basically comes down to decision making. Don’t get me wrong I find that a lot more exciting but I was lucky to discover something I liked.


2) There is a lot more to marketing than ad campaigns

I remember the first time my boss asked me if targeting 50@4+ on a 20 sec ACD creative makes sense for our brand, I just wrote it down on a piece of paper and said I’ll get back to you. I did that because I didn’t understand a word of what he asked.

3) A salary gap of a few lacs doesn’t matter

Post tax deductions, the difference of a few lacs in CTC would essentially come down to the money being spent on a weekend outing at a monthly level. Most of your life’s earning are going to be made in the latter half of your career. One really shouldn’t be making career choices or beating oneself up about the joining CTC.

Click on this link to learn more about the difference in your earning today and in the latter half. https://www.livemint.com/companies/people/godrej-consumer-s-ceo-vivek-gambhir-highest-paid-fmcg-honcho-in-fy19-1565585269731.html


4) Fancy designation and Fancy Organizations don’t matter

My friends in banking joined as AVPs, I joined as a Trainee. How much we enjoyed our work depended a lot more on our colleagues, the projects we were working on and our boss. Some people joined unknown organizations and are today way ahead of their batch mates who got placed on Day 0. The charm of a designation dies when everyone around you is the same. The organization doesn’t matter ones you get there. One needs to focus on being happy at work instead of being happy to land a job

5) Marketing is not a promotion from sales

As an RSM I lead a team of 40 people, hired by me, in my 2nd year of sales. The opportunity taught me leadership, empathy and a basic business sense. It’s been 5 years since then forget 40 , I haven’t ever managed at team of 4.

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