Q) Thanks very much for joining us for Truescope Talks, Aseem. Your career spans over 20 years in research and analytics across business and media. Can you share with us how it all started and why you decided to enter the industry?
Thanks for inviting me. I started my career as a public relations professional. As a client servicing person at a PR firm, I used to analyse the campaigns I had worked on, myself, and present the analysis to my clients. The idea of getting into measurement and research came to me when one of my clients asked me if there were any independent, third-party firms who could evaluate the impact, rather than me evaluating the campaigns myself. I could not find any such firm in India at that time and I did not have the money or experience to start my own firm, so I joined the research team at management consulting firm McKinsey & Co. where I learned more about research skills and practices. After working at McKinsey & Co. for a few years I met a couple of investors who shared my beliefs and ideas regarding independent evaluation, and we ventured into the business of research and measurement.
Q) Congratulations on your recent appointment to Chair of AMEC. How are you settling into the role and what is it that you are most looking forward to?
The last few months have been crazy but I am loving it. The goodwill and respect that I get from members is amazing. At the same time, I am also being challenged to find the right balance between my volunteer work as AMEC chair and my business role as CEO of Impact Research & Measurement. I am still working on this puzzle.
I feel grateful to have some exceptional professionals on the AMEC International Board. What I look forward to most is discussing ideas and working on projects with this wonderful group of professionals. We interact at our board meetings and have a virtual platform (Basecamp) where we manage different teams and run all our projects. One of the AMEC project streams that I am most excited about is “Education”. We are developing online courses, organising events –annual summits, measurement month, webinars etc. - and collaborating with various industry bodies to help educate our partners and clients on the latest frameworks and concepts.
Q) AMEC provides an exceptional opportunity for learning to those in the global comms industry. As a contributor to some of the available resources, is there one in particular that is a ‘must read’ for communication professionals today?
The latest AMEC Planning Guide is a highly recommended read for any communicator who wants to showcase the impact of their campaigns to the leadership/ board. Often, measurement is an afterthought, seen only as a report card for the work already done. The Planning Guide helps you realise the importance of measurement in the planning stage of your campaign. It encourages you to start your campaign with measurement and research and forces you to articulate your objectives smartly. And it guides you at every step of the way by incorporating the AMEC Integrated Evaluation Framework. Given the popularity and success of IEF, we are now investing in a paid online course on the same.
Q) Truescope is thrilled to have recently become an official partner of AMEC. Why do you think it’s important for the communications industry to band together in innovating, collaborating and pushing the industry forward?
My friend and past AMEC Chair, Richard Bagnall, has been saying for many years “A rising tide lifts all ships” and we have seen this with success of Barcelona Principles, Valid Metrics Framework, IEF, Measurement Maturity Mapper(M3 Too). What’s interesting about these tools and framework is that they were a result of collaboration; competitors coming together to create new knowledge and products which are guiding the industry.
Q) What is the best piece of advice you have ever received and whom was it from?
I would like to share two here. 1. In 2007, one of the investors in Impact Research & Measurement introduced me to Nitin Mantri (currently CEO of Avian WE and outgoing president of ICCO). When I told Nitin about my work, he suggested that I travel to the UK and meet this group of people who are working on solving similar challenges. This group he referred to was AMEC. This is how I reached out to AMEC and learnt about it and it has changed my life ;-).
2. “Learn to say No”. I had heard this advice in podcasts by the founders of a company called Basecamp (Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson). They talked about how it helped them steer their product and company in the right direction. But I started following this advice when Sanjeev Roy (CEO coach)helped me realise that this was something I also needed to learn.
Q) Finally, what’s your favourite gadget, app and podcast?
These days my favourite gadget in the After Shokz Opencomm UC – a headphone with microphone that uses bone conduction technology to deliver sound which means the headphones do not have to be put on top of, or inside, your ears, and also a microphone that ensures no background noise is transferred in your virtual calls. Its battery lasts for two days and I manage all my calls(phone or computer) using it. I wear it for the entire workday without feeling any pressure on, or inside, my ears and I highly recommend it to all professionals.
My favourite podcast is “Indicator” by NPR. They pick a number or metric every week and explain the importance of it in the current context. Kinda similar to measurement and evaluation.
My favourite app is YouTube – helps me learn, enjoy music and watch good content.