Hi! I am Shruti, an older millennial, raised in India. I moved to Belfast last year with my husband, and I am pleasantly surprised every day by new experiences – be it people, weather, or food.
The quickest way to start a conversation with me is to talk about food! Every day I jump out of bed motivated by wanting to try a new recipe, and moving here from across the globe has awakened different sensors in my taste buds. It was only 6 months ago I discovered Thyme and it now has a permanent place in my pantry. My life goal is simple – to do something new every year, it could be easy or tough, that’s relative. This year my goals include getting a driver’s license in NI, learning many new recipes, and reading at least 10 new books. Who am I kidding? Five books probably would be a goal completion too!
Can you tell us more about your professional background? This is my favourite question because I made a very unusual switch about three years ago. A gold medallist (sorry not sorry about being boastful) from India’s top-ranked fashion college, I worked for six years as a menswear designer with some of the most sought-after corporate fashion brands in India. In this time I realised my favourite time of the year was the tradeshows and the marketing meetings leading up to them. I found it difficult to follow this newfound passion without any formal education backing me. After much debate between studying an MBA vs Master of Design I chose the former.
I quit my job, studied for six straight months, gave the GMAT, and got myself admitted to one of Asia’s top five business schools, the Indian School of Business. From designing men’s clothing, I was now doing business development, market research, client pitches, and creative strategy. I use these skills today at B-Secur as a Commercial Manager conducting market research, pipeline management, and business development.
How has your relationship with existing customers changed during the pandemic? At the onset of the pandemic, with no travels and even fewer visits to the office, the B-Secur Commercial team were challenged with nurturing relationships with customers in a new way. With no in-person meetings, keeping the momentum going on on-going projects and crafting new relationships is tough.
Like every other activity, we managed this transition too, and today after nearly 2 years of working from home, we have not lost even one of our customers, but managed to recruit nearly as many new customers compared to those we had before March 2020. We scheduled more frequent catch ups, managed calls across time zones, converted a few discussions into PowerPoints to make them stick with our customers.
Your role relies on an amount of cross-pollination, how do you ensure all relevant departments work together? During the pandemic, I was very conscious about not replacing conversations with emails. The best part of the B-Secur team is, everyone is approachable and never turns down a conversation. Individual conversations are followed by shared documents and slack channel notes and that’s how everyone remains in sync. Communication is key after all! I have never seen such a healthy relationship across various functions in a company – Technology, Operations, and Commercial. We do things differently at B-Secur, the open culture that comes from top-down helps us all support each other and seamlessly work together.
We have a weekly TechComm meeting, where a bunch of us get together and update the group on project timelines, foreseeable roadblocks if any, and discuss how to deliver the best of B-Secur to our customers. I’d also like to point out a special mention to the Product Team led by Braj. They are a major cog in this web of many teams we have. They streamline the information transfer and communicate with utmost clarity. What I am trying to say is, they translate really high-level engineering jargon to layman terms so all communication is absolutely clear, and all teams understand each other!
How do you stay aware of the latest trends and developments in the industry? You ask anyone in B-Secur this question and I bet ‘Daily Briefing’ would be their answer. This is an internal newsletter of daily news highlights relevant to the world of Heart Health. As well as this, we have also invested in custom reports and worked with analysts at length to understand the market size, growth drivers, key players, new entrants and different market segments.
Using the ‘Daily Briefing’ newsletter and the analysts’ findings as a basis, I conduct some secondary research and churn out an internal report. This is a live document which helps the Management team understand the evolving market of cardiac monitoring, prioritise projects, and prepare for market demands.
With limited access to industry events, how do you represent B-Secur to the market? Every quarter we make a list of upcoming relevant events and take a call whether we’d want to represent ourselves or not. Last year alone we attended several events globally, some virtually as speakers, some as participants. We also travelled to the US to meet customers and partners. Alongside events, our partnerships with our semico partners – Texas Instruments, STMicroelectronics, and Maxim Integrated give us a handsome representation and increase our visibility.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your role?
Fortunately for me, there isn’t just one rewarding aspect, but many rewarding aspects.
Learning: I am fortunate to have the best manager, Alex Gibson. He throws at me a plethora of tasks, with the trust that I will be able to do it even though I might be doubtful. Certainly, a win-win, as the task is accomplished and I learn! Remember what I said about learning being a life goal for me.
Initiative: Once again fortunate to have Alex willingly saying yes at every idea I have. A few initiatives don’t take off, but then again it ends up being a learning and some initiatives have ended up streamlining processes and giving birth to new practices.
Conversations: Being a part of this big team is a reward. Conversations with people on what they are working on keep me inspired, motivated and fuel me with energy to take B-Secur to the world!
What three skills would you say anyone wanting to become a commercial manager should have? I don’t know if these are skills or guidelines, but they surely help me sail in my role as a commercial manager.
Customer’s POV: Think from your customer’s POV. What are their pain points? What problem they are trying to solve? What are their priorities? Do your research in depth from both primary and secondary sources
Value Proposition with Clarity: Your offering should be additive to your customer’s existing/ new product. Convert this Value Proposition with utmost clarity in all collaterals you send out.
Stay Optimistic: If you believe this is a win-win, don’t stop chasing the prospect, but don’t nag too. Find creative ways to nurture your leads and keep the engagement going with your customers/ partners.