The Pune area of India is home to Communications Specialist Reena Mathew.
Her lifelong ambition to make a living from her love of language has taken her from local newspapers in her suburban hometown to the marketing team of Vodafone Shared Services, the captive unit of the telecoms giant operating in technology, networks, finance, enterprise, HR and business intelligence.
Here she shares her key career lessons with the My Working Life series.
In the beginning
I grew up in Bhopal. It was once a small town (city dwellers still refer to it as ‘in the mossfils’ meaning ‘the sticks’) but is now a bustling city known for being one of the greenest in India and famous for its propensity of natural and artificial lakes. The importance of education was drummed into me from an early age by my mother, who was a teacher. My father worked at a government-run power plant equipment manufacturer and it was while watching the news with him that I realised, around ninth grade, that I wanted to be a journalist. To this day there is no greater thrill for me than the one I get from seeing my name in print. Perseverance is critical in journalism: I applied for a course with a newspaper group but was unsuccessful; but I was able to source commissions from the local edition of the paper because they liked my submission article. My first forays into publishing as a freelancer for Bhopal’s edition of The Times Of India – where I wrote about new openings in the city, theatre reviews and interviews with prominent local figures - gave me the bug and it never left.
My career path
My love of words has manifested itself in several diverse roles to date. As well as publishing articles in local newspapers, I’ve written documents for hiring managers during my yearlong tenure as a recruitment assistant, and produced content for technology and healthcare organisations. At their hearts, all of those roles required strong communication. But the digital revolution has meant I can’t just rely on my language abilities to effectively connect with my audience; I’ve had to get my head around graphic design, video production and search engine optimisation, all of which are to do with how my words will be presented and reach the widest possible audiences.
My average day
My hour-long commute normally sees me in bumper-to-bumper traffic as drivers all around compete to gain an inch on one another. When I get to my desk the first thing I do is look at what needs to be communicated across the teams that day, either to the internal technology teams or externally, via social media. The stories I write or produce in video form focus on how Vodafone brings value to our customers. Finding and telling stories requires me to be alert to everything going on around me. I try to behave like a sponge with colleagues, leaders, stakeholders and even detractors. There is a fine balance between what you contribute in meetings and what you hear of others. The better I understand my colleagues; the better I can communicate with them.
Since most of my work with Vodafone is distributed through internal channels, it’s important to me that I find others vehicles for channelling my voice externally to a wider audience. I turn my observations about everyday life into LinkedIn blog posts – on topics ranging from the why we need to channel our inner child when it comes to setting life ambitions, my cynicism about yoga’s ability to keep us calm in this hectic world, and what football fans’ frenzy for the game can teach us about marketing communications. One of my most popular posts asked the question “Why don’t people write anymore?” and warned of the dangers of writing to attract the attention of search engines over real, human readers.
My biggest lesson
I have learned that all experiences make life richer, even if some of the experiences appear not so pleasant at the time. Every job, every relationship and every moment teaches you something and makes you who you are or what you can become.
In the future
Through many more varied experiences with words and language, I hope to continue developing as a writer to the extent that I can help enable that expertise in others.