As we move on in our journey of collaborating with industry experts from different domains to help job aspirants find the right career for themselves, this time we had the chance to interview Mr. Aman Dhall – Head of Communications, PolicyBazaar. His valuable insights will guide you to start a career in corporate communication.
Aman has 15+ years of experience in Business Communications, and he is widely known for his role in building the InsurTech brand, Policybazaar.com. The brand became a unicorn in 2018 and has been one of India’s most successful financial start-ups to emerge since 2008.
Last year in 2019, Aman was recognized among India’s most influential gamechanger in the corporate communications and PR field by Exchange4Media. Further, he is also acknowledged among India’s best young talent from the field of marketing, advertising, public relations, and media, in various 40 under 40 lists by media houses.
Expert’s guide on how to start a career in corporate communication:
Read on to find out more about how to start a career in corporate communication and how does a day in the life of a Business Communication Head looks!
Interview Log – Mr. Aman Dhall
Shiksha Online – Please share a brief introduction about your role as a Head of Corporate Communications at Policybazaar.com.
Aman – I play the role of chief story creator and brand custodian for Policybazaar.com. The role has evolved from partnering with media to build consumer awareness around the death, disease & disability products in the insurance landscape, to managing the overall content leadership for the brand – be it through product, corporate, employer or policy communication.
Shiksha Online – What does a day in your work life look like?
Aman – No day is the same in my work life. Since content has a deeper and meaningful impact over the long term, I look at work-life goals for our function from a perspective of at least three-six months, to arrive at any decision making. However, few things remain constant on a daily basis, which includes:
- Beginning with monitoring the relevant content results from the previous day, and what new opportunities can emerge from it.
- Then monitoring team goal setting & updates for the week
- A regular day includes creating opportunities, planning, and managing key content influencer engagements for the brand
- As well, managing the effective content distribution on the organic channels, and wisely telling stories on the paid channel.
Shiksha Online – Please shed some light on your career path and how did you start a career in corporate communication?
Aman – I started my career as a sportsperson (up till 16), and I identify it as a career, even though I didn’t make money, but it taught me social, emotional, and most importantly decision-making life skills.
I moved on from sports, even though my father, my friends, the people in my hometown ‘Moradabad’, were all keen that I progress as an athlete, I just couldn’t see a secure future for the family as a sportsperson at that given time.
I started focusing on my academics in class 11, and I was just keen to move to a bigger city to a good university then, to improve my language proficiency in English and become a more well-rounded person. I scored in the mid-80s in Class 12, and in those days, that percentage was good enough for you to dream of studying at the north campus at Delhi University.
I got admission at SGTB Khalsa College, Delhi University, and from there my interest got developed in Journalism. Under the guidance of Professor Novy Kapadia and Smita Mishra, I picked up my ‘story creating’ and ‘editing’ skills, as I contributed to the college magazine, and then launched the first edition of our commerce magazine as the editorial lead.
A master or a PG was a norm back then, and I pursued a post-graduate diploma in journalism, from Pioneer Media School to further polish my story writing skills. Around this time, I also started writing for a youth newspaper, The Campus Paper, started by Ajay Jain. That experience gave me an initial grounding in grassroots journalism and built confidence that I had skills to shine in this industry.
The experience really helped, as I got the first placement from the college when media houses came to our campus. I was hired by Karnataka-focused English daily, The Vijay Times (Now re-branded as Bangalore Mirror) in their Delhi Bureau. I was very fortunate to work under Sri Krishna there, who taught me the fine nuances of writing stories on any beat. Vijay Times was a great experience, as I went on to cover politics, parliament, and did business/corporate reporting in my two-year stint there.
I got an opportunity to move to The Economic Times after that stint within The Times of India Group. Again, I was very lucky that I worked with the Sunday edition of the paper. The best thing about working for the Sunday paper is that the editorial team has to everything from writing a copy to editing to making pages, or working with the designer to create graphics for the special reports and features.
During my stint at ET, I developed an expertise in financial services reporting, and also managed personal finance pages. The learning was immense, both under Shubham Mukherjee (now with ICICI Prudential Life Insurance), and Partha Ghosh (now with Samsung), who played the role of Editor-in-chief, during my time there. They taught me to write big picture stories and the importance of editorial packaging – from design to editing.
Thereafter I moved on for higher studies to the UK and pursued a master’s in sport management in 2010-11. On my return, I started my own venture, after working as a consultant on a couple of projects. The entrepreneurial experience of running a sports development venture in the tribal parts of the country prepared me for all kinds of jobs and gave me an outlook of a businessman.
I haven’t had any formal stint in PR or corporate communications when I joined in the existing role with PolicyBazaar. However, I had knowledge of
- Running a business
- Strong story-making skills
- Very deep understanding of the media universe.
So, when I joined in the current role, I was fairly confident of the asks of it, and got great support from both Naveen Kukreja and Yashish Dahiya, in turning things around.
Shiksha Online – What are the most important skills you need to break into a career in corporate communications?
Aman – You need to be a master of content, you should have a nose for what makes news, what makes people read a story, what are the ingredients important for a brand’s story to be told more effectively to its target audience.
Above all, you should be good at multi-tasking, people management, as a communicator, you work with all functions of the company as well external stakeholders, your ability to simplify their stories, curate it for the large screen and then tell them to the larger world, is what a minimum expectation from your role.
A deep understanding of the media landscape, newsrooms is a must, though you will have an agency partner to guide you in many cases, you should be an efficient distributor of content. A skill one adepts and learns over a period of time, with experience.
Shiksha Online – What expert advice will you give to mid-level managers to move on to leadership roles?
Aman – You are a team binder. You have the biggest responsibility of managing day-to-day tasks for larger goals achievement, at the same time, help junior managers progress in their career, and provide a bird-eye view to the function leader, on the undercurrents of the content and media landscape.
Every mid-level manager has to go through the hustle of managing people, up, down, and parallel, the people management skills become very critical, and how you perform all these tasks efficiently, with patience, making everyone shine, decides how quickly you move into a leadership role.
Shiksha Online – In a world of technology-mediated communication, how do you plan important communication for Policy Bazaar?
Aman – You need to know the distribution levers very deeply when managing communication. Technology does play a part, but it’s a very human-driven industry. We plan our communication based on its relevance on the channels that we are targeting, and the reach/outcome we are expecting from it.
Shiksha Online – Rapid Fire Questions
1. What do you think is the bedrock for a strong, long-lasting, and enjoyable career in corporate communication?
Aman – Your story making ability & genuine long-lasting relationships with the people you work internally and externally.
2. How important is negotiation as a skill?
Aman – Very important, critical to your growth as a professional. It’s an art, one becomes better over the years.
3. How do you manage trolls?
Aman – Ignore them. Don’t take them seriously. They are ‘trolls’ after all.
4. What do you like the most about this industry?
Aman – This industry can make or break brands with its prowess. It’s that powerful, that too without the moolah being involved.
Shiksha Online – Which corporate communication courses, skill development paths, books, or channels do you recommend for upskilling?
Aman – I believe in upskilling through observing a work that impresses me, and then practicing it to become perfect in it. If there is something that intrigues me, I would learn that skill from the person who is executing on the ground.
I like reading a lot – Harvard Business Review, The Morning Context, Wall Street Journal are my preferred channels for news consumption.
Shiksha Online – Do you have any expert advice for our readers?
Aman – A career is an adventure. Seek thrills, enjoy rides, overcome fears, and achieve whatever you want to.
All the best! We hope Aman’s valuable insights will help you smoothly start a career in corporate communication and grow swiftly.
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