How against all odds this graduate found his passion in Digital Marketing even before it was a thing

  • I am Kunal Shah, a Digital Marketer who holds a Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) degree and a Diploma in Software. 
  • Born and bred in Mumbai, India; financial circumstances were such that at the age of 17, I took up my first full-time job. 
  • I have always aspired to do an MBA, but as the saying goes once one tastes money, he or she is done. Also, I had to keep earning.
  • Did I allow this to stop me from having a successful career? Definitely not! I continued my studies while working full time and over the years, I found a career in Digital Marketing.
  • Practical knowledge and passion helped and today I am an Associate Vice President of Digital Marketing at a leading Insurance Company.  

Working full time at the age of 17 

As contradictory as this may sound, I had everything even though I may have been seen to have none.

I was born to a middle-class household where financial difficulties were part of our daily life, but the love my parents had for my sister and I was everything we ever needed. 

My financial background instilled in me that if I have to learn, I have to earn. As such, I jumped to work as soon as I finished my 10th Grade.

My interest in Mathematics and fascination for Computers made me realize that I have to do something connected to the digital world.

I could not afford a course in the field of Engineering. I was then left with Commerce; but I wondered, “What exactly in Commerce?”

I used to hear my friends speak about MBA, Bachelor of Mass Media (BMM), Chartered Accountancy (CA), Company/Chartered Secretary (CS) and so forth. I struggled to find my fit and mostly because I did not have money to cover tuition.

In my first year of B.Com (at age 17), I found a job and as it is often said in Gujarati: “Paisa Chakhi lidha pachi pati gayu,” meaning once one tastes money, he or she is done. That was it, my focus started shifting as I had gotten a taste of money.

What next?

Jumping jobs

In my second year of BCom (2004), my cousin recommended that I should join a jewellery company in order to learn their processes, and I did.

My role was Computer-Aided Manufacturing, which involved drawing images in Coral Draw for designers. I was later promoted to the production department.

After working there for almost 3 years, I started losing interest when things got monotonous and I joined an international Call Centre as a Customer Support Executive.

I worked night shifts there and simultaneously enrolled for a one-year Diploma in Software during the day. Thanks to my brother-in-law who encouraged me for the course. 

By the time I graduated (2006), I already had over 3 years’ worth of work experience.

What next?

Turning point: Discovering Digital marketing

Fast forward to Sept'08, thanks to my friends, I got an opportunity to work as a Portfolio or Keyword Analyst at Directi.

Here I learnt about various digital marketing channels and it was a time when digital marketing was just getting recognized in India, but it was not celebrated as it is today. 

I knew I had found my passion in Digital Marketing.

From SEO trainee to Associate Director

After 2 years at Directi, I started hunting for jobs in the digital industry.

My breakthrough came when I was successful in an interview at Resultrix, a leading performance-led digital marketing agency.

Finally! After 6 years of jumping jobs, I got the perfect fit – something I was enjoying. This is when my core digital journey took off.

I started my career as an SEO trainee in 2010 and by the time I left Performics. Resultrix in 2018 I was an Associate Director of Earned Media. 

In 2018, I joined a leading insurance company in India - SBI Life Insurance Co. Ltd as Associate Vice President of Digital Marketing. Here my role comprises - managing, strategizing and analyzing the performance of Digital Marketing activities, in addition to business targets, process improvements, project management, etc.

Both my mentors (one who taught me and one who trusted me) deserve a share in my success story as they motivated me to see that I was more than capable. 

Wrapping up...

I had the privilege to witness the digital marketing industry transform.

To name, but a few; today we see the likes of ‘Head of Marketing’, ‘Lead of Company Digital Marketing’, ‘Head of Digital Transformation’, ‘Lead of Digital Analysis’, and ‘Digital Strategists’.

Digital Marketing is a very dynamic industry and I keep up by continuously updating my knowledge with the given enhancement of Digital Channels and changing consumer behaviour.

Any education degree will help you clear your base but having only bookish knowledge will never help, especially in marketing where practicality is key.

If this is really your passion then explore what channel or role you like. It is really a huge industry with multiple role options in it. Hence, it is really important to pick a channel which you are best in.

My mantra says: “Your passion is your path and if you monetize it, you climb the success ladder!”

Now It's Your Turn...

With so much growth and transformation, would you consider a career in the digital industry? Have any questions for Kunal, comment below in the box and he will get back. 

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