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Wall Street To Media

Thursday, August 28, 2014

There are several women who switch careers when they find out what their true calling is. However, not many are like Tanaaz Bhatia, who discovered her true calling only after a successful Wall Street career. Dev Goswami talks to the owner of Bottom Line Media about her switch, working with big names from the film industry and much more

F‘Y ou cannot fail if you are resolutely determined that you will not.’ Tanaaz Bhatia tells us that this saying, by Abraham Lincoln, has guided her through life. The determination is apparent if you take a look at the career of this entrepreneur, who has worked for companies such as Merril Lynch, Citibank, Naspers and Mid-day. Her nine-year stint at Wall Street saw her jump from an analyst to associate and then to vice president, after which she decided to move back to India. Here, she ventured into the world of media by helping to raise funds and finalise marketing plans for her friends’ projects. She worked on marketing Bollywood films such as Ra-One, Don 2, Agent Vinod, Cocktail and Vicky Donor, and then founded her company, Bottom Line Media Pvt. Ltd., which was the consultant for Hollywood film, The Zero Theorem. She talks to us about switching careers, gives us an insight into the world of Wall Street and shares her experience of working in the field of marketing.

From being an MBA, to working as an investment banker and then starting your own company, you’ve had quite an eventful journey. Tell us about it.
From Wall Street to Film City, it has been an interesting journey for me. When I lived in the US, I used to work with film studios and spent a lot of time working with Universal Studios and Time Warner, which spurred my interest in the field of media. The more I understood the business, the more I got interested in it. But, it was a move that I definitely did not anticipate. My company was born from a small idea and my initial office was at a Gloria Jeans outlet, where the ambience, energy and vibrancy of the coffee shop helped me go that extra mile to start Bottomline Media Pvt. Ltd.

What pushed you to switch from being an investment banker, to marketing Bollywood (and even Hollywood) films?
Working at Wall Street was a dream come true. I started with the media sector and all my deals were with US media giants. My move to Mumbai was not planned and in fact, it was a family emergency that brought me back to the city. Here, the opportunities were limitless. For me, every day poses a question: “Why don’t I do something more?”

Give us an insight into the world of Wall Street — books and films often depict it to be a fast-paced, high-flying life. Do these fictional accounts come close to real life?
Wall Street is definitely similar to glimpses of what you have heard about, read and seen in films. It is the only place that teaches you discipline, helps you learn how to pay attention to detail and how to dot your i’s and cross your t’s. From early morning breakfasts and power dressing, to crazy 20-hour days, life at Wall Street was an amazing roller coaster ride. The absolute closest to my experience is the narrative of the book Monkey Business, which pulls off Wall Street’s suspenders and gives the you the inside skinny on life as an investment banker, where the promised land is always another 20-hour work day and lap dance away.

Changing careers is no mean feat and you switched your profession after working as an investment banker. Did it take a lot of courage?
Changing careers was actually a long process. It took me almost eight months to muster the courage to quit my investment banking job at Wall Street and to structure the details of what my company was going to look like. It was serendipity when things just started falling into place. It was initially a culture shock for me to adapt to new timings, cultures, styles of marketing and the film industry. Even today, it takes a lot of courage. Luckily for me, I’ve had a lot of well-wishers, who have guided me through my ups and downs and even now, give me advice from time-to-time.

What tips would you like to give women who want to switch careers and/ or start something of their own (just like you did), but are hesitant because of the risks involved?
If you dream of it and have a clear vision, you must go after it. I believe that anything is achievable as long as your intent is honest and you are dedicated. For women who want to switch professions, or start a venture on their own, it’s not as glamorous as it sounds. There are going to be ups and downs, but as long as you have the belief and conviction in what you are doing, success will be yours. Everything involves risks, even a corporate job has the risks of downsizing, so just go with your gut and success will come your way.

You’ve been associated with Time Warner, Universal Studio, Red Chillies Entertainment and Dharma Productions. What is it like to working with so many big names from the film industry?
It was a pleasure to work with these people. For me, it was challenging to come up with something new every time and that continues to be the most exciting part.

What is the one project that you’ve really liked working on?
Working on Ra.One, Chennai Express and now, Happy New Year, has been the most fun, as I got to work with Shahrukh (Khan). He encourages you to experiment with new avenues of marketing, and because he is such a marketing genius, you learn a lot from him. My biggest achievements in the field of marketing were with his film, where he let me create the first ever Bollywood film themed happy meal with McDonald’s and a video game for Sony Play Station.

Marketing as a profession often invokes a negative response. What is the biggest misconception that you think most people have about the profession?
People think marketing is easy, glamorous and does not involve much work. But, marketing requires a lot of research, reading and creative input that helps create an entire campaign. You wouldn’t even be reading this newspaper today, if several people had not marketed it correctly for you to purchase it.

What does the future hold for you?
The future holds a lot of new, interesting spaces and ventures. Producing, private equity and something that will surprise everyone here… all I can say is wait
and watch!

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