Jyotshna Kalita: the leading lady, creating an unmatched standard through creative solutions
"Jyotshna Kalita is an innovator, always looking for fresh approaches to marketing and communication and finding her feet as influencer and trailblazer."
In this modern age, Indian women are making their presence felt in different industry verticals. They are fighting odds, braving gender bias and creating a space for themselves in the world, including the marketing and media industry. A national award-winning poet, Jyotshna Kalita is one such woman of substance, carving a niche as an entrepreneur for herself in a traditionally male-dominated advertising and communication industry. She has been the brain behind a series of smart and successful content and communication projects. Establishing her business venture, Halcyon Media in 2014, Jyotshna has presented one-stop destination for all branding needs of companies —be it market-entry, launch or content creation and dissemination. Besides, Jyotshna is in the process of setting up another venture – that works in book adaptation space.
The mind behind Halcyon, Jyotshna holds a Masters degree in English Literature from the University of Delhi. She belongs from a conventional lower-middle-class background, where it is believed that only people, who have money, can get into the business. She was expected to be a professor of English Literature and lead a conventional life in small metro Guwahati. All this changed when she decided to pursue her career in mainstream entertainment industry, and eventually landed in broadcast corporate and found herself creating content and communication solutions for brands and media.
"I always had an enterprising attitude. I started doing independent productions pretty early in my career. Before moving to Mumbai, I had already done a few films on my own, commissioned by NGOs. Over the last one and a half-decade, I have garnered diverse experience spanning across, journalism, independent filmmaking, mainstream entertainment in TV, setting up of channels and radio stations and finally, brand solutions", Jyotshna explains.
Recently, the leading lady was on the hot seat of The CEO Magazine, where she discusses her company, digital marketing and more.
Here are edited excerpts.
TCM: Provide a brief overview of your company and its services.
Jyotshna: Halcyon Media has evolved over the last 4 years from being a conventional creative agency to position itself as a brand growth partner crafting solutions across a varied range of media platforms and genres. With Halcyon, we offer superior quality integrated content and communication solutions to small and mid-size brands at a time when digital convergence was progressing at great speed. We offer services in different segments in order to meet the brand's marketing requirements. When you are positioned as a growth partner, you cannot ignore any of the brands requirements. It becomes your own mission to ensure your partner is covered well. Halcyon provides services starting from holstic branding and communication, to digital strategy and management, traditional and new media buying, content strategy and creation, broadcast and OTT partnership and intellectual property marketing.
TCM: Where does your interest in entrepreneurship come from – how did you start?
Jyotshna: Halcyon was the result of instinct, combined with my vast industry experience. I had the privilege of working both in content and communication. And, it was a time when content solutions were fast replacing conventional creative communications. The need gap was too obvious to ignore. Though I started with conventional creative servicing – my long term vision was to create value for brands as a growth partner. I also wanted to carve a niche for Halcyon in the space of intellectual properties. It did not happen immediately – but now – suddenly we have multiple IP clients, and we are enjoying building that IPs tremendously.
TCM: What digital marketing trends do you see dominating the landscape soon?
Jyotshna: Data-driven audience targeting is the buzz of the day. AI, virtual reality, voice search, the scenario is evolving so fast and in such a high-tech way that you need to stay updated. However, I believe, at the heart of all technology-based mechanisms of delivery and creation – EQ driven brand solutions will remain the king as content.
TCM: How do you ensure a smooth infusion of technology with your business?
Jyotshna: As stated above – I try and read up as much as possible. The available technology and integrating them into our solutions and campaigns is not very tough. We count on content and the delivery mechanism. Our IT support system is very strong. As a conglomerate, we have multiple companies that are into multiple aspects of new-age content marketing.
TCM: Shed light on your clientele.
Jyotshna: Our clientele span from reputed FMCG brands like Badshah Masala, Granules and Beans to international technology giants like Taiwan Excellence. We also work with some startups – whose vision and mission is aligned towards a purposeful life.
TCM: Shed light on your team. What ethos is maintained for the employees in your company?
Jyotshna: TEAM – is everything! If you want your business to grow – nurture the team. Halcyon has a set of differentiators. Present-day, it is the team of 20+ (Much more if you count the group companies) expert professionals who leave no stone unturned to exceed the expectations of clients. We treat each employee as a part of the family and follow great ethos.
Whenever we add a new member to the team – we ask him or her simple question – What is it you want to do? For everyone, it is extremely important to do things that they like. We try and give that much space to our employees.
We also do not believe in watertight segmentation of job responsibilities. Since the company is positioned as a growth partner we encourage our employees to get involved with various activities happening around them.
The third thing is the identification with the agency's reputation and brand. We encourage them to be proud of the standard of quality that the agency has been able to achieve so far.
TCM: How do you feel has the industry transformed over the years?
Jyotshna: This is a transitional phase for advertising. The whole idea of brand promotion has gone through a metamorphosis. As an insider – I marvel at how things can change so fast. Yesterday's heavyweight creative agencies are today struggling to retain their teams. It's like survival of the fittest. If you cannot adapt – you are bound to perish.
I have witnessed the downfall of several mid-sizes but very reputed creative agencies right before my eyes. There are enough people in the market who are willing to deliver quality services at a competitive cost – and they are doing a great job at it.
Everything is measurable. You can't sugarcoat your performance. The tools and platforms are available to all; they are more or less the same in terms of cost for everyone. So how do you make a difference? And then it boils down to the quality of the content and the smartness of the solution.
On the other hand – the first generation digital agencies that operated from an opaque space also have to buckle up. Buying in digital is not like it was before. It's now so transparent that if you are not paying attention – you are going to go down the drain. Small entrepreneurs can set up a shop if they have talent. It is being appreciated by clients. At least that's what my experience has been.
TCM: How does a day in your life look like as an entrepreneur?
Jyotshna: My day starts at 7.30. I answer messages and emails for an hour. It is followed by the gym. Then, I finish half my day's work before I go to the office. In the office, every morning I meet the entire team for some time, frivolous chit chats and then some updates. I love the part where I sit with the teams and strategize for our clients. I get back home late these days.
TCM: Describe yourself in one word.
TCM: How do you achieve a balance between your personal and professional life?
Jyotshna: My family is in Guwahati. So I don't have much of family life. In terms of personal life – I have been a very social person. My friends are my lifeline. For physical and mental health, I do breathing exercises, meditations, and I go and sit at the beach to achieve calmness of the mind; it makes me feel refuelled for the next couple of days.
TCM: After all this success and failure, what do you struggle with now?
Jyotshna: My only valid struggle is to deal with my obsession with controlling the quality of the outcome delivered to the client. Because I am a creative person with vast experience – I expect my people to deliver the quality I could have. Now being a CEO – you got other stuff to do than conceptualizing visuals and writing articles and directing films, right?
I have never had an issue with getting business. In fact, I have not been taking clients for a while. But this is a crucial year. I have decided to take the leap of faith and expand. There will be a struggle for a while – to do it evenly, without burning myself out.
TCM: If you could change anything in the Indian market, what it would be?
Jyotshna: To be honest – I would have liked to see less of male dominance in the advertising industry. Client servicing is still so unmistakably male-dominated you have no idea. If I am sitting in a meeting with one or two of my junior colleagues – I find the speaker making more eye contact and addressing my junior male colleague than the CEO of the company… It is deeply rooted and god knows when true gender equality will be achieved in terms of mindset.
TCM: What are your future plans?
Jyotshna: Soon, we will venture into creating some IPs of our own. We are preparing for it. We want to include a bit of product business along with servicing business. Moreover, I am planning to grow my second venture – Vistar and take it on higher latitude.
"There is a secret mantra to survive the whirlpool of entrepreneurship. You just stick to your boat. Come what may, eventually – it works out. It's the fear of failure that distracts most of us." – Jyotshna Kalita