Meera Sharath Chandra - A 'Tigress' indeed!
Meera Sharath Chandra is the Founder, CEO and CCO (Chief Creative Officer) of Tigress Tigress, the digital centric integrated communication agency. She has over 30 years of experience across all facets of integrated communication, specializing in digital. Let's hear from her about her life, ideas and opinions!
1. How would you describe yourself in three words?
I’M A TIGRESS.
(The company was named Tigress Tigress for a reason: it reflects two aspects of my personality. Being ‘predatory’ when it comes to prowling for challenging opportunities and global accolades and being ‘fiercely protective’ of the quality of the creative product and the team that creates it. )
2. You had such a long career in the advertising and communication industry. What motivated you to start Tigress Tigress at such a late stage in your career?
Tigress Tigress was intentionally timed to coincide with my completion of three decades in the business. It is my early plan for late retirement! I have worked across India, the US, Hong Kong and most recently the UK and have won awards at – and been on the juries of – leading global award fests. It was the right time to use that international recognition and exposure to advantage. I had also developed my own unique trademarked way of approaching client requirements with truly creative business solutions and category-level breakthroughs and I felt it would be best showcased in my own entrepreneurial venture.
3. How is Tigress Tigress different than other digital marketing agencies?
In the competitive agency environment, Tigress Tigress aims to engage in higher order conversations and delivery on overall brand strategy and consumer engagement across all communication touch-points – with digital at the heart of the experience. A truly media neutral approach to communication and a distinct global edge in digital and social media, positions Tigress Tigress away from other agencies. Tigress Tigress specialises in totally joined-up communication, with digital at the heart of the experience. The thinking is new-age: the communication goes where the consumer goes. And therefore the online world is the start point and not the after-thought. By virtue of its focus on digital – and on the blurring of digital and physical worlds – Tigress Tigress produces extremely differentiated experiences by creating one-of-a-kind consumer engagement models.
4. What are some of the challenges you encountered when you started this young venture?
To be honest, I have only encountered opportunities. The market and the timing seem to have been just right for the entry of such a venture and things have been going at such a fast clip that I have nothing to complain about at all. Yes, there’s a lot of cross-geography travel and that can be hectic, but it is all really worth it because the work is totally fulfilling and the opportunities are truly exciting.
5. What are some important milestones you want to achieve in the next 2 to 3 years?
The next couple of years are years of building up and consolidating. Tigress Tigress works on a differentiated business model. With over 75 alliance partners across geographies, the company pulls together just the right team and right talent for each and every brief in order to provide the most cutting edge solutions for clients. So the next few years will see the deepening of these alliances and an increase in best-of-breed alliance partners. This model has led to some very unique ideas and solutions for clients and I want that quality benchmark maintained at all costs.
6. Based on your experience how is a corporate career different than being an entrepreneur?
There are powerful arguments you can make for both, and I enjoy both ways of working. What I did was a well-timed graduation from one to the other. A corporate career is a wonderful training ground – it gives you the experience and the opportunities to learn the ropes and establish yourself in the field. After a certain point, when you outgrow the environment and see that your own brand has gained recognition and equity, then you are in a state of total readiness to embark on your own entrepreneurial venture. It is important to know how both environments function and to know how to rise to the top in both. But an entrepreneurial venture can give you an adrenalin rush like no other. It is your own - to shape, to scale up, to succeed in. It carries your DNA and that’s the best ever reason to go to work!
7. Many working women find it hard to balance between work and family and opt to slow down on the career front. How has been your experience managing work and family?
I have always lived by a simple mantra. If you don’t have a life outside advertising, there will be no life in your advertising. The field is such that you need to be in touch with trends, target consumers, touch points and technological advancements at all times. Which means you do need to find time to live and breathe those experiences. And that immediately sets the balance straight. Sitting in a corner room isn't the best way to get to know your consumer.
That said, I have been a career person since the day I graduated and I will continue to be one. Work-life balances are all about how you, as an individual, calibrate them – I make sure that my role in the family and in the company always working synergistically. One needs to have a well-rounded life. If you get the equation right, there’s no reason at all to slow down. After all, multi-tasking comes naturally to us.
8. Is there any mantra of success that you would like to share with budding women entrepreneurs?
GRAB. Never pass up a challenging assignment. Never pass up an experience. Never pass up chances to explore more facets of yourself. Never pass up ways to upskill, learn, unlearn, relearn. There’s a reason these opportunities came your way. Grab them with both hands.
9. What is your take on Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In movement?
I believe the power of an idea is proved by its ability to cascade into a movement and include more people as part of its powerful community. I also see this idea as something that the digital world has helped explode exponentially. As an entrepreneur in the digital ideas space, this resonates with me on both the personal and professional level.
10.Are you glad to be a woman? Why?
Sometimes, I feel I am one of the boys. I have played cricket for Tamil Nadu state, I have worked longest on cars and trucks in the automotive sector. I have often been the sole woman on several all-male management teams. And yet I am glad that I am a woman - and I always will be. Especially in my line of business and in the creative space, the intuitive understanding, innate sensitivity and aesthetic finesse women can bring to the table are powerful assets. I am extremely happy that in my field, we see a healthy proportion of women at all levels in the industry.