Senior Brand Manager at Flamingo Digital and Shark Tank India 2019 winner, Parina Jain, tells us about her experience of entering the Shark Tank and moving from India to the UK for her MBA.

My name is Parina Jain, I am from India and I am currently studying full-time on the Essex MBA.

Tell us about yourself and how you decided you wanted to do an MBA

Before starting my MBA in October 2019 I was working as a Senior Brand Manager at Flamingo Digital in India and I have worked in the digital industry for the past 5 years.

I was working with global brands like Lamborghini India, New Balance India, Asics Tiger India, Onitsuka Tiger India and pan nation or boutique brands such as: Kama Ayurveda, Khanna Jewellers and Kapoor Watch.

I love my job and I love the marketing industry. It’s an interesting story how I got into it though. I studied English Literature for my bachelors and then pursued a PG Diploma in Advertising and Marketing.

I always wanted to do something with writing so I started off as a copy-writing intern and that’s where my whole path paved on. I went from copy-writing to social media executive and then I was hired as a social media manager, then marketing manager, then brand manager and finally senior brand manager. Somehow copy-writing took me from being an intern to where I am today.

I chose to do an MBA because after working for five years I got very comfortable with my job, my work and the same old routine and that’s when I realised I need to go out of this 9 to 5 to grow. I wanted a holistic view of running a business. Right now, I was just working in one of the segments of the company I wanted to understand the bigger picture, all other rudiments involved in managing a company. 

That’s when all the research started and the UK came in to the picture as a destination to study.

Tell us about your Shark Tank experience

To discuss my options I connected with an agent back home and the India representative for the University of Essex, Sandeep Sharma, introduced me to the idea of Shark Tank – a competition that Essex Business School were running in Bangalore, India to find the best talent for their MBA.

Sandeep asked me about my background and checked my CV and profile and decided that I matched the profile for Shark Tank so they took me through the whole process of applying and how to prepare for it. 

It was a really nice experience. The whole concept of Shark Tank was very innovative and I really liked the approach. I am from Delhi, so I flew from Delhi to Bangalore especially for the Shark Tank.

I gave my presentation and my business plan and that was the first time I met the Director of the MBA, Nicolas Forsans. After the 15 minute session my world was bouncing and I think that it was worth it! I got a Dean’s Award Scholarship of 50% off my fee.

My business plan was for a platform, Shiksha, where all the Tier 2 and Tier 3 students could be connected with a mentor in school or in their residential area so that they can find out what career opportunities are available to them.

In India, kids or students in urban areas tend to be well informed, but younger kids who are in 9 or 10 standard, their parents make decisions for them. Shishka is a counselling platform for both parents and kids where they find out what options are available to them after their basic education. I want them to be able to find out where to get funding and what government policies are and how they should do it. Like a match-making platform.

Tell us about your MBA experience

This year, MBA 2019-2020, we have students from 18 different nationalities so this is one of the most diverse groups.

There is real a mix of experience and it’s so interesting to learn about other countries and their cultures and their unique journeys because they come from different sectors, different industries and different age groups.

You find people of all age groups on an MBA, from people in their 20s to their 50s. Some are married, some are not and it’s so interesting to meet so many people who are so diverse. My classmates are focused and really supportive and competitive – exactly how an MBA class should be.

I am living in the university accommodation in The Meadows and one of my flatmates is on the MBA too. It’s good to have really nice people around you when you are away from home.

My peer group are really amazing and the professors are very approachable and they understand our needs as we come from different personal and professional backgrounds and they moderate their teaching patterns according to us. The sessions are really engaging.

At the start it was a little difficult to cope, coming from a professional life to the habit of being a student but I think I am doing well now.

I really enjoyed my last module by Professor Elisabeth Kelan on People and Organisations and Impact of Leadership and also the module by Marco Nowinski on Sustainable Organisations. Both were amazing and interesting and new things to me.

I think every module so far has been almost completely new to me. Previously I was working solely on one particular sector so every module is a new concept. I might not get 100% of the module but every concept that I come across it’s a new concept for me and trust me, I am really enjoying this journey and I think that this is the best decision I have taken to come back and study after five years of working.

What about the future

I feel like an MBA is a growth journey, it is not just meant for people who want to go into management. It’s meant for everyone I feel.

It’s a journey that helps you to understand the whole system of managing a company. It teaches you to look at the bigger picture from birds eye view while working on the minuscule details. You get to balance and juggle between different activities and teams. I am studying things that I never even thought I would come across which are essential.

The concept of dream jobs keeps changing for me. Once you achieve something you find a new job or milestone that fascinates you. My new fascination is, because I have previously worked in an agency, my new dream job is that I want to work with brands. I want to go into cosmetics – like MAC or Estee Lauder or the footwear industry and managing marketing or the digital space for them.

I want to stick to my sector, my industry comes first but I am really open minded about where in the world I’ll be based.