Lead(H)er Profile - Anu Bhave, Product Marketing Director at BCG Omnia
Where did you grow up? What did your parents do for work?
I grew up in New Delhi, India. I think as a child, I was very academically focused (like most middle-class folks in India used to be). And I was an avid reader - I would read whatever books or magazines I could get my hands on - from kids comic books to my mom’s women issues related magazines to my Dad’s thriller novels.
What did you study in college and what was your first job out of school?
I did my Masters in computer science and my first job was as a developer in Tata Unisys Ltd. After 5 years of working, I also did my MBA from MIT Sloan School of Management.
Can you share the details on your career path and what were the critical moments that got you to where you are today?
I did my undergrad in Electronics where one of the courses I took was programming and I fell in love with that course. I ended up doing my Masters in Computer Science. Even though I started working as a developer, I ended up working closely with the commercial team who was writing proposals and marketing our services. I loved that world and ended up doing an MBA with a major in Entrepreneurship and Marketing. Since then I have held positions in product management, product marketing, business development, and have started and sold one small company too. At each of these points, my education/career took a turn when I found myself loving some aspect of a job. I was lucky enough at each point to pivot to a new role/education.
What is your current role and responsibilities?
I have been leading the software product management group for the last 3 years within BCG. and now I have pivoted again to lead the Product Marketing group within BCG Omnia. I am responsible for marketing our software products and increasing their adoption across cases.
Looking back, is this where you thought you’d be professionally? Was it always your goal to be in this position?
Ever since I did my MBA, I knew I wanted to be in a product management/marketing role since I enjoy the responsibilities that come with this role. I enjoy thinking strategically about products, their use cases, enhancements, and increasing sales/adoption. I never had a particular company in mind, but I knew I would always be in a software company. So, it’s not a surprise that even within BCG, I am working in their software group - BCG Omnia.
For people who are looking to be in a similar position, what advice would you give to others in terms of helping them achieve their career goals?
My suggestion would be to speak-up and ask for what you would like to do - this is assuming that you have passion in this area. It took me a few years to understand it is better to speak up, raise hands, ask for help or a specific role than to assume that people will notice and figure out what I need! Over the years, I learned to speak up more and raise hands to take on more challenges openly. And never say no to opportunities if you have a chance to learn something new.
What are the most important skills that you need to do your job well?
Clarity of thinking - I need this to be able to convey the right message to my audience
Networking - Given the number of products I am involved in, it’s important to keep a finger on everything that is happening within products, within markets, and respective topic areas.
What do you find most interesting/rewarding about your work? What’s most challenging?
When I see an increase in adoption of a product or more engagement with our products, I feel my contribution was successful and most importantly, meaningful.
Even with so much advancement in marketing, there are many points of ambiguity in marketing efforts and that sometimes frustrates me. For instance, you run an email campaign and you can always measure the open/click rate, but it is not easy to measure direct impact on awareness and adoption of that campaign. Many times, I feel that I am experimenting and playing to figure out what sticks ;)
What is your proudest professional accomplishment?
In my previous company, we were spending significant $$ on marketing and like most companies, we had a decent idea of what was working based on leads we were getting. But it used to take us almost a month to close the books and see the actual impact on our revenue. When our CEO decided to focus on analytics to understand things better, I raised my hand to lead that group. It took us one year to get to a point where we could close the marketing books in one day and inform our CEO on a daily basis how we did that day and how did it compare to that day the previous year or the year before. This intense effort involved creating a central data mart, combining sources of information from various agencies and integrating internal systems, but the journey and the output was amazing! And the impact we had in bringing transparency within the firm, on decisions of allocating $$, on reorganizing sales force and call center, etc was significant and very satisfying. It was definitely a lot of long days and late nights, but having a direct impact on running and tracking the business was my proudest professional accomplishment.
Are you involved with any professional organizations outside of the company? Volunteer work?
I am not directly involved in any organization, but I donate to charities for cancer and girls education.
What’s next for you and your career?
I love BCG and its commitment to its people, so, for now, I am planning to stick around here ;) In the last 4 years, I have moved between product management and now product marketing, so I am definitely open to handling any other opportunities that come my way here.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Watching TV - I keep up with Hindi movies and pretty much watch one every week. I also love reading and find myself ordering books every couple of months. It doesn’t mean I finish reading every book - in fact, I have many half-read books at home...
How do you manage stress?
I believe that you need to get out of the stress-related/stress-inducing situation to manage it. So, for me, that is movies and books. The days when I am more stressed, that’s the day when I watch or read more and move out of my real world to that dream world. Playing and talking to my daughters is another stress reliever for me (assuming they behave on that day ;))
How many cups of coffee do you have in a day?
I am a hard-core tea drinker at home and coffee drinker when traveling. And as far as tea is concerned, I am a pure Indian at heart. Which means I make masala tea from scratch 2-3 times a day.
Any book or podcast recommendations? (professional or fun)
I just finished reading Range by David Epstein and Midnight in Chernobyl by Adam Higginbotham. And I really enjoyed reading both of these books.
What advice do you have for recent college graduates?
Exploring new things has been a constant theme in my personal and professional life – and that has been an adventure ride. My advice to folks is to explore - don’t be rigid about your career. Don’t let your degree define what career path you take. Have a sense of direction and then go deep or expand based on what opportunities present themselves to you.
I did my first swimming/snorkeling in the Pacific Ocean without ever setting my foot in the water before and finally learned to swim when I turned 40. In my professional life, I have raised my hands multiple times to take on roles that I hadn’t done before or wasn’t comfortable doing. E.g., integration of two companies we bought in my previous firm, leading an analytics team without knowing much about analytics, running and then selling my firm in the education field, leading a sales ops and marketing team in a firm that had never had to do marketing before – are some of the professional adventures I participated in and enjoyed each one of them. Given my tendency to get bored if I do the same role every year, I believe these different explorations helped me grow, but at the same time enjoy the journey.