“Keep it simple and surround yourself with hardworking people with good intentions.” It’s how Kinnect’s national design head and SVP Priyanka Mestry Soni keeps her creative aura bright and strong. “I think I’m lucky to be surrounded by people who are always excited to explore something new, challenging and not settle for mediocrity and that really pushes me to do better and think creatively,” says Priyanka.
There was never any doubt as to how Priyanka would be applying her talents. She grew up in a family of painters, photographers and commercial artists on her maternal side, and her innate instinct for design was stoked by a love for storytelling. Thanks to her mum who recognised her talent and urged her to go into advertising, Priyanka’s passion has only grown the more time she spends on it.
From her starting point as a visualiser to her destined career pathway at Kinnect, Priyanka has not forgotten the people who have helped her and guided her with the wisdom that she needed.
“A close friend and mentor once told me – No matter how successful you are, if you forget how you started and do not remind yourself to use the same formula that got you here, and if your attitude is not in the right place, then this journey will feel like a struggle.
“I try to stay grounded, and I’ve learnt that nothing comes in a platter; hard work is the only way to enjoy success and this journey,” says Priyanka.
LBB> What were the lessons and takeaways in your career that were key turning points for you and why?
Priyanka> Back in 2011, after quitting my first job of two years I was in two minds, either taking up the role of an art director in one of the renowned agencies that had an exciting offer ready for me, and the second option to join a friend’s startup. Fortunately, I chose the second. That was the turning point in my career.
Then, when I completed six years with Kinnect at that time, it wasn’t easy handling the stress that came along with all the responsibilities. But, when I looked back to what I started and the many opportunities that came my way, I felt that I was being ungrateful to what life gave me, and this is just a phase. If I can do this, imagine how much I can achieve just by setting my mind to it. So, I stayed.
And three years ago, when I got back to work after my six months of childcare leave, I was so lost. It was an emotional struggle for me as a woman to face some unexpected outcomes of not being around for that long. It was extremely challenging to get back into it with the same energy but in an unfamiliar environment, because a lot of changes happened in those six months. I was so close to giving up. But I reminded myself again, this is just a phase. I have built this, I know this, and I have good people around, so let’s get back and run it.
LBB> What social/community/environmental causes/agendas are you passionate about and why?
Priyanka> As they say, “an act of kindness creates a ripple with no logical end which eventually comes back to the person itself” and I've always been interested about spending time with underprivileged kids to teach them, so I’ve volunteered at the Teach India Campaign and Save The Children and even participated for the activities hosted by Kinnect under the ‘Kinnectors Give Back’ initiative.
Also, I’ve always wanted to help with any kind of city cleaning programmes, so I’m working towards contributing to the environment and waste management in this city under the Adar Poonawalla Clean City Initiative
LBB> What was it about Kinnect that” sold you” and how does it align with your work principles and vision?
Priyanka> It was Rohan and Chandni’s unclouded vision and their passion to help brands do impactful work that I got sold on. I was also excited and completely aligned when I saw their enthusiasm for bringing the best minds from the industry together and the clarity in their planning.
I’ve always wanted to work with like-minded people and work on exciting brands that invest in good work, and as we grew Kinnect, this belief just got stronger that this is the right place for me to grow in.
LBB> As someone who learnt from the traditional foundations of visual arts, what is significant in terms of new applications in the world of digital marketing?
Priyanka> It’s quite exciting how we can combine the two and create exciting, personalised content while collaborating with people across the globe today. And I think the use of collaboration as a tool across applications to make ideas happen is life changing as agility today is of utmost importance to navigate between fast-changing and high- uncertainty conditions of this industry.
LBB> What advice would you give to someone making the transition from visual arts to digital design?
Priyanka>At the crux of it all, excellent visual craftsmanship is what we all are working towards for both visual arts and digital design. So, if you are transitioning, you need to identify how well do you understand the other, and most of all, your passion for your interests. Also, how well will you be able to use creative design to improve the quality of the full brand experience across all the digital platforms.
LBB> In terms of talent development, is it harder to acquire the skillset to fit evolving needs? How have you grown your team to meet client needs?
Priyanka> I don’t think it’s hard for anyone to learn and develop skillsets to fit the evolving needs of this industry if you have the right guidance and resources. It gets difficult for an organisation to acquire one, when it's investing time in the wrong talent who is not aligned with a similar vision. So, rearranging resources and putting the right people in the right room to run on the same path that the company is evolving towards, becomes crucial.
And as the client's needs kept changing by the hour, I knew that fostering a culture of respect for great creativity, collaboration and adaptability was important. So, for all of that, I’ve always invested time and effort in people and helped them see the bigger picture and cultivate a culture of trust and autonomy.
And the most challenging part of growing this team has been that of putting the right people in the team to work together cause eventually it's their chemistry that matters to get good work done.
LBB> What are the trends you have noticed in client briefs and in expectations for campaigns? How have they evolved over the years?
Priyanka> So, a lot of briefs this year focused on asking for personalisation and a mobile-first design approach. Brands are expecting individualised experiences for the audience and high-quality engaging content backed by data and insights.
Digital briefs have evolved significantly over the years. They now include more detailed information about the target audience and how the campaign goals should be achieved. Additionally, digital briefs now often require a comprehensive strategic plan along with key performance indicators to measure the success of the campaign.
Finally, digital briefs now often require data analysis, such as user journey mapping, to ensure the campaign is successful.
LBB> Looking forward, what’s your design vision and what do you hope to be working on?
Priyanka> I’m working towards creating innovative campaigns that are visually stunning but also strategically well-conceived. I am also looking forward to being able to collaborate and explore more tools and applications and utilise data and technology to create personalised experiences that drive engagement on digital.
I also have some good young talent from the industry joining Kinnect very soon to work with me so very excited for that.