Staff Speak with Meghna Rakshit
As the Director – Marketing & Brand Communications at Teach For India, Meghna Rakshit is usually found juggling meetings with multiple stakeholders while planning for her teams’ projects and priorities at the same time. It has been almost four years since she quit Mindshare India to lead the function – “I came in at a time when the organization had just started to realize the power of marketing and communications” – and today, her team is central to overall strategy. From equipping the organization to be the voice for Teach For India’s mission through design, photography, videography and events to engaging with the wider external community through traditional & digital media – Meghna’s vision is to enable more people to join the movement for equity in education. My team and I essentially focus on using innovative marketing strategy to enable outstanding applicants to join the Fellowship, keep our Alumni engaged with systemic change & collaborate with the larger audience to fuel conversation around an excellent education” she says.
A Cathedral & John Connon School Alumna from Mumbai, Meghna majored in psychology and communications from Hamilton College, New York and went on to work for ‘Interview’ magazine in fashion ad sales before moving to Mindshare – one of the largest global media planning agencies. “With clients like Unilever & the White House, I gathered interesting marketing trends and ideologies but after 5 years in NY, I wanted to come back. So I applied and got accepted to ISB Hyderabad and it has been the best decision I ever made – the perspective was mind blowing!” she recalls. She spent the next 1 year at Anand Bazaar Patrika, leading business strategy for The Telegraph newspaper – “The idea was to turn around the 80 year publication and position it to appeal to the modern reader” – but was soon asked to independently lead ‘Speaker Bureau’ at 9.9 Media. “It was my first experience with a startup environment – I learnt to set up company business plans from scratch. But the role was based in Delhi – I didn’t want to move at the time and so took the decision of re-joining Mindshare, Mumbai as a part of their impact strategy cell for clients like Unilever, Kellogg’s & Idea Cellular. In 2012, 10 years into my career, I suddenly reached a point where I was still mad about marketing & communications but needed a stronger purpose than just a standard corporate career.”
It was at this time that Meghna began to look for opportunities in the social and development sector. “Teach For India was the only organization that I found to have a strong professional set-up and a purposeful vision. I met Shaheen for a 2 hour long meeting and my decision was made. The org values were incredibly strong and the model absolutely clear but what really convinced me was the organization’s open-mindedness to try new things. I wasn’t asked to fit in but rather create my own ecosystem.”
With a strong belief in the power of communications and its potential to effect change, she came in with the approach of wanting to solve a problem using her strengths instead of just fulfilling a job role. “Lack of knowledge was no disadvantage – in fact, it served as good perspective.”
Over the last couple of years, Meghna and her team have been highly recognized externally as well as by the larger Teach For All network for excellence in branding & design, harnessing the power of social media and leveraging media & PR. “The organization is consistently focused on Staff development – being a part of the Senior Leadership Team & attending the annual global TFAll conferences has been very valuable as it has helped me gather big picture perspective and focus on big vision strategy.” Recently facilitated for exceptional performance in her role, Meghna mentions organizational flexibility, the inspiring calibre of her colleagues & witnessing the impact that her work has on the children that Teach For India works with to be her biggest reasons to stay. “The notion of moving to non-profits as a ‘break’ is absolutely misleading. I’ve never worked harder and the work environment has never been more intellectually challenging. The people I work with are very different from any corporate set-up I’ve been a part of; they’re warm, caring and passionate and their level of commitment and bar of excellence is mind boggling – it makes you give your best!”
As Teach For India embarks on Phase 3 and aims to positively impact a million children by 2022, the Communications team has a lot to look forward to. “It’ll be a whole new ball game from hereon – I foresee the expansion & collaboration plans to open up a new set of possibilities and in turn a higher level of excellence for us as Comms to enable the same!”