CMO Diaries: In conversation with Gaurav Suri from UTI Mutual Fund


In continuation with our CMO diaries, Gaurav Suri, Sr. EVP and Head Marketing, UTI Mutual Fund, gives us a sneak peek as to how his typical day pans out.

1. What’s a typical day for you @ office?
The day starts pretty early . A little bit of exercise and reading help calm the senses. This part of the day is little relaxed before one is thrown into the everyday chaos. Try to beat the traffic and come in by 8.30 am to the office. The first hour is spent in ruminating about the day ahead, closing any un-finished business from previous day.

Given the diversity of responsibilities every day tends to be a new day . However in terms of structure one half would be spent in pre scheduled meetings, projects reviews, mentoring of team guys and moving work ahead. Some time is spent on reading about new trends, mapping competition and exploring new ideas. That is only possible by meeting up with people, travelling to catch up with partners, customers.

Most of the days try and leave office by 6.30 or 7 pm so that one can get some time at home as well and come back refreshed to start another day

2. One campaign other than your brand that you truly thought was brilliant 
Thank you Mom by P & G during the Olympics was one which touched a chord. Was used during the winter Olympics as well. Really tugged one emotionally.
Overall like the work by Vodafone in India and recently they did a campaign in Egypt or Indonesia around micro recharge cards – Vodafone Fakka

3. Three marketing rules you live by
Keep customers at the centre of everything – being deliberate and strategic about customers is very important now.

–  Follow a do- learn-do cycle – waiting for perfection can kill many ideas. 

–  Executional excellence / results driven – Every action we do needs to move the needle for business and if we allow the details to be lost than our ability to create compelling and convincing stories/ experiences  is lost.

4. Marketing an already established brand like yours, how easy or difficult is it?
Marketing is an ever evolving space in the financial services. The decoding of core of an established brand to keep it contemporary, relevant with the changing demographics is not a very easy job. The idea is to establish consistency of experience at various touch points so that the perception of brand is unique and continuous. It requires constant challenging for established brands not to get complacent on their past glory and continue to do things which demonstrate thought leadership. Ours is a story of pioneership in the category and marketing has been a fundamental lever in delivering this story of pioneer ship and creating the opportunities for many firsts.

5. What happens when a campaign fails? It’s impact on your brand and you?
Well  thought through campaigns backed by research etc might not deliver to the expectations sometimes because of variety of reasons ( internal as well as external). When the delivery is below expectations you try and course correct. It often slows you down a bit to get back on the path but as long as the objectives are in place, a effective monitoring system and ways to continuously be consistent and credible, brands will get build in our space.

Specifically for me as an individual these times are markers to take stock, learn from them quickly and move on iterating in a manner which helps you build from such experiences.

6. Importance of a strong Social Media presence
As technology takes rapid strides to allow people to be virtually connected , have quick conversations, get feedback from peer set, influencers it is imperative that brands also find relevance in being part of these conversations. So Social media presence in a manner which is not intrusive , which makes it easier for people to interact , engage with you is a given thing today. Our ability to tap into conversations, get insights and engage with the consumers can only be enhanced if we have social media presence.  Our primary aim as  marketers is to connect with the customers, find a way to occupy their heart. And if customer behaviour reflects change in consumption of media, or conversations happening in the social media then can brands be behind?

7. A marketing book worth reading
There are many books worth reading,

Epic content marketing

The psychology influence of persuasion

Crossing the chasm


Purple cow

Blue ocean strategy

Positioning- etc etc

..challenging your ownself and exploring your own boundaries is the primary task.  Really the task is to keep your curiosity alive .Being a good listener and having networks from different walks of life sometimes helps me see patterns of psycho-socio-economic behaviours before they become apparent… of course I need to validate these hypotheses with my friends and colleagues in various forums ranging from industry meetings to family get-togethers. That I am a voracious reader of fiction helps me push the boundaries of everyday realities….Also, it is helpful that I am not ashamed to learn from anyone – whether it is my manager, an industry stalwart, team member, my driver or my 9-year old daughter!


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“Thinking Aloud” reflects the emerging trends and varied outlook of the rapidly evolving internet and communication sector. An IAMAI publication, this is a part of the market education initiative of the association.

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