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Rama Bijapurkar is India’s most respected thought leader on market strategy and India’s consumer economy. She has an independent consulting practice and works across sectors and organization types, describing her mission as “bringing market and customer focus to business strategy”. In addition to her consulting practice, she is on Boards of several blue-chip companies. She is a regular visiting faculty at the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad, her alma mater, and is a member of its Board of Governors.

Rama has published several books - “We are like that only”, “Understanding the logic of Consumer India”, “Winning in the Indian Market”, "A Never Before world: Tracking the evolution of Consumer India” and “Customer in the Boardroom: Crafting Customer based Business Strategy."

In our conversation, Rama talks candidly about how she has navigated the world of opportunity as a solo-advisor with a specific emphasis on how she has chosen a playground that uniquely leverages her strengths and passion. She also talks about the Executive to NED transition, shares her views on women leadership and her take on how people should think about careers given an explosion in the number of divergent paths that are ahead of people.

This conversation was published in September 2017. We value your feedback on the podcast. If you have 3 minutes, please visit http://bit.ly/p2pfdback.

Pie chart of time today

Rama has been a solo-advisor for several years now. She talks about how she has thought about her portfolio of work (she likens it to broadcasting multiple TV channels) and how that has evolved over time.

Early formative years

Rama talks about the parenting context in which she grew up and talks about how that has played a big role in shaping her journey till date.

Career in Market Research

Rama talks about how she ended up joining Market Research by accident after joining the Advertising world. She talks about the notion of "sliding doors" where small events along the way can have a significant impact on the overall trajectory and outcomes.

Becoming a solo-advisor

Rama talks about her attempts to work at the intersection of consumer and business understanding and discusses how she ended up going solo after a long stint in the corporate world. She also talks about how her role models (CK Prahalad, P. Chidambaram and Bhimsen Joshi) influenced her choice to go solo.

Careers - Paradox of choice

In a world exploding with choice, Barry Schwartz argues that consumers are often worse off due to the complexity in decision making and Fear of Missing Out. Rama talks about how one should navigate the world under such circumstances.

Shaping your playground

Rama talks about the notion of identifying and playing a game that only "you" know how to play, as espoused by Prof. Indira Parikh. She talks about how she has taken consumer insights and applied it to different contexts.

Becoming a trusted advisor

Rama talks about the various elements that go into the personal brand beyond the pure technical capability that one brings to the table. She describes the notion of "balance tilters" which has an implication on how the bundled proposition is perceived by the customer.

Women and Leadership

Rama talks about some practical tactics she uses perform effectively in forums (such as Boards) that are often filled with men. 

Transitioning from Executive to NED

Rama talks about how people who have led companies end up getting empathetic with the management (by default) of the companies where they sit on Boards. She talks about the need for people to have clarity on who they are accountable to.

What they don’t teach at IIMA

Given how hard it is to get into places like IIMA, Rama talks about the mindset of the typical person that is getting in and how that is at odds with the climate at the workplace of today. She talks about how one could bridge the gap.

In summary - Playing to Potential

Rama talks about importance of navigational principles in a world where we are all headed in a direction where the destination is unclear. She relates this approach to how Google builds its products. She also underscores the importance of a core skill which wires us in a certain way, which gives us the ability to process the world around us with a certain frame.

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