So there I was, the king of calling cards. I had no desire to abandon it. And why would I? My boss & even his boss accepted my views. I could literally make or break the case for a product. But had I stayed on in that profile, I would have stagnated later on for sure. The product was all but discontinued & it’s management tossed from team to team periodically, depending on who was willing to carry the monkey on their shoulders. So I have to thank my mentors Abhinav Jha & Indranil Sen for making me realize that there was a world beyond calling cards.
About the time when Hutch transitioned to Vodafone, I got a message from Indranil thru Abhinav. It basically said “what are you still doing in calling cards, time to get out and see the world…”. At first, I resisted. The position offered was in mobile vas, specifically, in mobile data. I knew nothing about vas or data. And besides, why should I give up a position where I was already well established. Note that I was too inexperienced in my career to think too much about the future. But my mentors knew that calling cards was a sinking ship. And they tried hard to convince me to abandon ship. Thankfully, I agreed!
Me agreeing was ok, but the hierarchy above me agreeing was a totally different ball game altogether. It took a little bit of time & effort & fortunately, my HoD eventually decided to spin off the entire division to corporate marketing. His was a wholesale business & he didn’t want to have anything to do with retail. “How opportune for me”, I thought. The opportunity was there for the taking, but procedural formalities still marred my switching of teams. Initially, I worked for both teams i.e. mobile vas and calling cards. But within a few months, I started to focus completely on my new work.
My first stint with mobile vas was really interesting. I handled a variety of different things, including mobile games, before settling on subscription based products (for which a subscriber paid a certain amount every month). These products included rich alerts and a few mobile apps. Then the opportunity of a lifetime came. I got to get involved in the launch of the first Vodafone India app store. I still wonder at how we launched it on time, but somehow we did! It was a highlight of my career which I must have told interviewers over & over again. Apart from this amazing thing that I did, I also got to work on other cool things like opera mini & third party rich alerts.
A major highlight of this stint of mine was that I met my wife while I went about doing the rich alerts. She used to make them & I used to sell them. Thanks to my boss Kanwal, we started travelling together & eventually ended up marrying each other!
Anyways, coming back to the career bit, as I was merrily going about doing the subscription products thing, the company needed to make a few structural changes & so I was given another profile. I had to move into voice vas. What on earth was voice vas! I didn’t want to move! Whatever it was, surely it wasn’t as interesting as what I was doing right now! But I gave it a thought and came to the conclusion that it would be a good experience. So I said why not!
My entry into voice vas was a very tumultuous one. My colleague Anand Chatterjee left soon after I joined the team. And I was left thinking, here I am new to this business, now all alone and my boss keeps talking about revenue even though I’m not sure what this is all about. But as in calling cards, I quickly figured out the business. I figured that since I was all along, there was no point in me trying to manage all the services. So instead, I put the partners to work. I did the key things myself & offloaded everything else to the Onmobiles & Spice digitals of the world. It was smooth sailing after that.
By this time, I had learned to think about my career & realized that voice vas may be a good thing, but data was the thing of the future. So I needed to get back to data. Fortunately, my old team was still doing data. And so I rejoined the team looking after 3G. I did a variety of things for about a year. During this time, Indranil moved out & then Abhinav moved out. And I thought to myself that I needed to do something different too. While this thought process was in progress, I completed 5 years at Vodafone. And I thought that I definitely needed to move out now. And so I did! I moved on to Tata communications.
Just before I moved out to Tata, my wife Khushbu had quit Vodafone to start her own venture. So when I quit, the plan was that I would work with Tata for about a year & then join Khushbu in her venture. Thankfully, while I was at Tata I realized that there was no point in waiting for a year. The best time to do it was now! And so the moment this realization dawned upon me, I wasted no time in putting my papers in at the old, bureaucratic Parsi company. And that is how Digitree Digital was formed!
Hopefully I will have many more stories to tell you as time moves on. But this one ends here. Hope you enjoyed it. Do let me know through your comments.