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Corporate Volunteering in India – My Project Overview

In Marketing Wallah on January 27, 2012 at 4:19 pm

Before I left the UK, Dean’s COO asked me to set up a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Programme based in the Indian office. I remember being very excited; it sounded ideal; it was paid, part-time work, within the sphere of community contribution, with a marketing slant.

The project was and continues to be championed by the CEO and Dean: I consider myself fortunate in being associated with a company who, despite having an expat staff of one and no clearly defined policy on the issue, have always managed to have some understanding of my needs, including my need to work. I am reliably informed that many larger companies don’t.

I was employed on a consultancy basis so part of my brief was to help define the project. It was a corporate volunteering programme. My role included project set-up; recruiting the volunteers, letting them choose a local NGO and getting the NGO to manage them. I was also responsible for meeting a set of objectives, defined in terms of adding value to the organisation and the brand.

Easier said than done? … Definitely, yes!

My biggest challenge was defining the work of the volunteers. The NGO didn’t have the capacity to do this so I filled the gap: I planned the launch of an on-line shop, I wrote English lessons and I prepared a three day career development course.  This was far from ideal as I had to commit much more time to the project than originally anticipated. It also meant that marketing activity fell by the wayside. It has only recently gathered momentum.

After about 6 months, I managed to end up with one very successful model of corporate volunteering: For three weekends out of every four, staff volunteers visit a school in a deprived part of Gurgaon to teach English to a bunch of lovely children. It seems very likely that the difficult project set-up will be worth it in terms of the quality of marketing output, particularly, the involvement of the staff and the positive impact it has on them, and the excellent publicity and clear fundraising focus that comes from working with such a worthy cause.

The role has contributed greatly to my marketing experience. I’ve gained additional insight into consultancy. I’ve been reminded of the challenges of project management and partnership working. I’ve written a quantitative survey and collated the results. I’ve carried out a cost / benefit analysis of the programme. I’ve written internal and external communications. Overarching all these individual achievements is a real shift in the way I think, from project management to value creation; I have become a marketer.


Marketing Wallah – An Introduction

In Marketing Wallah on December 8, 2011 at 5:12 pm

After 18 months in India I have realised that there is a great big career-sized hole in my life. I don’t have a job and I don’t contribute financially to my household. I don’t equate that state with the person I think I am.

I have never actually looked for a job in India for the following reasons:

  • I don’t have an employment visa
  • I’d have to get a job to get one (* see below for detail)
  • Life in India is difficult enough without looking for a job as well
  • I’ve already got a job – part-time CSR consultancy for my husband’s company
  • I’ve been studying part-time

I am also pretty much in the middle of a career change; in 2005 I decided that my long-cherished career in social housing just wasn’t meeting my need for creativity so, after some toing and froing, I got my first job in marketing in June 2009: The plan was to work in this junior position for about a year and then look for another job; I left the job in April 2010 bound for India, so I was just about on plan. However the plan didn’t take into consideration the points above, particularly the visa issue – I had no idea.

My career history would make a job search in the UK challenging enough. It certainly doesn’t motivate me to look for work in India, where there is no shortage of marketers with commercially relevant, Indian work experience.

So my career is in flux, I haven’t got a job and I want to do something about it. The accepted expat wisdom on this issue is a portable career; a career that you can take with you anywhere around the globe. The on-line community is crowded with examples of exceptional women who have achieved just that. As inspiring as they are, I think there is something missing, i.e. how do you get from wanting to jump on that plane and go home to having a genuinely portable career that is both financially and personally rewarding? Well Marketing Wallah is my story; I can’t promise a happy ending but here’s hoping!

* Accompanying spouses get no automatic right to work in India. I would have to apply for an employment visa in my own right. For this I would have to find a job at a high enough salary (about £20,000), ask my employer to wait while I return to the UK (presumably at my own expense), apply for a visa and if successful return to India to work.

CIM Professional Certificate – I’ve Finished!

In Marketing Wallah on November 29, 2011 at 11:24 am

For the last year I have been working on my Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) Professional Certificate. There have been moments of sublime delight in my subject but generally it has been a bit of a slog.

In a nutshell; studying and doing anything else is hard work (I don’t know how the other people on my course did it – they had jobs!); studying on-line is a true commitment to self motivation and not to be taken lightly; lastly, I think the course is much harder than it needs to be for what it is trying to achieve.

Anyway, it’s done now so let’s just hope I’ve passed!