“In the next 10 years everything is going to be multi-disciplinary, connected and talking to each other — be it energy, power grids, cities, homes, manufacturing plants, vehicles, computers and mobile devices. This (what we call Internet of Things) will bring tremendous opportunities, and along with it risks and challenges. So the future is going to be a time for great innovation, great possibilities and great responsibility,” says Azra Fathima
Azra is the Head, Marketing and Communication, at Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) which is a professional society for the engineering and technology community dedicated to elevate the role of engineering, science and technology among the engineering community.
With energy, information, communications and transport as the focus sector in India, the IET has been steadily working to streamline the pipeline of engineering talent by ensuring regular information exchange through prestigious lectures, competitions, scholarships, and awards etc.
Azra’s work involves core marketing – taking IET’s products and offerings to the market. This involves not just learning about what her organisation has to offer, but a deep understanding of the market, the consumer, the players and all that comes with the eco-system. The future according to her will be all about Internet of Things and it will bring in great challenges and innovation. “I love conveying an idea, and marketing at its core is about conveying an idea. I love writing and am passionate about communication,” says Azra.
She studied Journalism during undergrad and did her Masters in Mass Communications from Bangalore University. She wanted to be a journalist but since those days options were limited she followed her friends into advertising. After six years in advertising she moved to EPSON and was responsible for India marketing. From there, she has had successful stints in technology or technology-related organisations, leading strategic and global marketing.
Working at IET
Azra leads a team of passionate and committed members and feels accountable for their learning and growth. “Between us, we roll out compelling campaigns, create events with equally passionate volunteers, make inspiring videos, showcase our organisation and member activities to the media, invite people to join the conversation, spread the word and cascade the effect about our institution whose vision is working to engineer a better world,” she says.
Critical aspects of marketing
Since IET is a non-profit, the critical aspects of marketing for a not-for-profit doesn’t change much from profit entities and these include knowing the customers (members) needs, listening hard, adding value, being honest and relevant.
The one aspect that stands out for not-for-profit organisations is – compliance. “We have to be very careful as we cannot adopt traditional marketing methods like offering sops and rewards,” she adds.
A gender-neutral workplace
According to her, one should leave ones gender outside the walls of their organisation. “We all work using brains, mind, intellect and experience. Gender has no bearing on any of this. It is my firm belief that talent and performance will always be recognised, irrespective of gender. Believe in this and do not take shelter under gender-bias for failures,” she states.
This proud mother recounts how one of the big milestones in her life was giving birth to her daughter. “As soon as she was out, tears were rolling down my eyes. It was a big, life-changing, emotional moment,” share Azra.
To this list she adds her break with EPSON and her role as Group Marketing Director at Planet One.
“Challenges are meant to be handled with courage, focus and balance. Driving a car provides a classic analogy of how we need to balance life when faced with challenges. On an up-hill road, it is the fine toggling between the clutch and the accelerator that will help us to stay still, take stock and then move forward, without hurtling back. It requires finesse, skill, patience and focus.” Azra sure does love cars and driving!
Both her parents and in-laws have been role models and inspiration for her. She lost her dad when she was 18 and her mom rose from the position of a school teacher to reach Director level status in the State Education Department. “Her faith in life is tremendous and she remains my strongest source of inspiration,” she says.
To this list she also adds all her bosses – “tall leaders in their own right from whom I have learnt much.”
She adds that she was recently privileged to meet and interact with Wg Cdr Andy Green, jet fighter and world land speed record holder, and she was very inspired by his discipline and passion.
She is an avid reader and hopes to finish writing her book in the near future.