‘Change starts with you, but it doesn't start until you do!’- Tom Ziglar
There are very few instances in one’s life that matters and leaves a great impact. The ‘AFAA Fast track’ workshop was one of those instances for me. My greatest learning from the workshop was that I am solely responsible for my present and future. Though this did not make a lot of sense on the first day, it resonated well as the sessions progressed.
Before I even landed in Malaysia, I was asked to write on ‘what I expected from this training, how it would be successful, and where do I want to implement the learnings in my life’. When the first day started, I realised it was more of a holistic training where I would be able to know myself better, reflect on goals to be achieved in life, and share my experiences with 29 other participants across Asia. No, it was not easy, nor was it a typical conference or a workshop that we attend in our mundane lives. It was like a never ending roller-coaster ride with unimaginable troughs and crests. The day’s session made me concentrate on the ‘human’ behind the face, focus on my self-empowerment, and strengthen leadership skills.
For good order sake let me tell you that we were asked not to reveal the actual way we achieved this so that anyone who attends the workshop can come with an open mind and benefit the maximum out of the program. And hence the brevity of my text here.
After surviving the first day of the training and feeling a little more confident about myself, we were asked to gear up for the next day’s ride. The next day started with both anxiety and excitement as we were divided in various groups of different ethnicities. It was a joyous and wonderful experience to be around people from Srilanka, Indonesia, and Malaysia. I got to learn so much about their food, culture, values, and work.
On the second day, each group was assigned a mentor who in themselves were moguls in advertising. We got to learn from the horses' mouth why the mentors chose advertising as their career, and some of them who did not start in advertising shared their journeys on how they switched to this profession. Mr. Bharat Avalani (Chief Knowledge Officer, AFAA) further briefed us on the day’s proceedings wherein we were asked to use advertising for good; think of a brand which could deliver the goal and design a campaign around it. The entire process of selecting a goal, associating it to a global brand, making the idea scalable, and sharing our thoughts with our mentor was both challenging and satisfying at the same time.
As a group, we chose zero hunger as the goal which all of us could relate to. We associated a food delivery brand which is already operational across Asia. We got a window of 12 hours from our brief till the final presentation. Being chosen as the group captain, I ensured that the team gels well and come together to deliver a quality presentation in the limited time we had. Our mentor, Nina Mohammed-Nor (Creative Director, J Walter Thompson and a Freelancer Writer) was very supportive and the entire team of judges/mentors gave us quality feedbacks. Yes, it sounds very stressful but let me assure you that it was rewarding at the end of it all. I am sure all of us could reflect on these experiences when we work on similar briefs in our everyday work.
As our training was coming to an end, I realized one important thing – It is not only the idea which makes a difference in advertising, but the intent to deliver it that makes all the difference.
It was through Medulla Communications, that I got a chance of being in healthcare advertising and working as a medical specialist. Being from a technical background and having a niche profile as a medical content writer, I always had my doubts on how I could leverage my skills to survive and grow in advertising. However, post this workshop I have realized that anyone and everyone can contribute to advertising as ‘communication is for the people and not just for brands’.
(Ipshita Chakravarty is a senior medical specialist at Medulla Communications)