Today, in a world where there is no shortage of messaging, it’s important to carve a niche for yourself. This niche should be impressionable, trustworthy, and engaging to ensure we capture our audience’s attention consistently.Delna Prakashan
Next in our Unique Story Series is Delna Prakashan, our Communications Advisor. Her story is full of amazing experiences that have influenced where she is today! Read along to hear about Delna’s journey, her vision and hope for edtech, and how her experiences shape her professional work
Delna’s Family History
Q: Hi Delna! Where are you from originally?
A: My origins are from India, but I was born and raised in Dubai, UAE.
Q: Tell us a bit more about your upbringing – An Indian family in Dubai!
My father is from Kerala, and my mother is from Mumbai. Being raised in Dubai makes me a quintessential 3rd culture kid. This means I’m half-baked when it comes to embracing the culture of both India and UAE fully. Therefore, I have adopted a hybrid culture in a sense! I’m grateful because my heritage and upbringing have helped me understand global cultures. I often find common denominators between people from all walks of life.
Every year my parents made sure they took my brother and me back to India during our summer holidays. I remember early on that I dreaded those India visits. However, I am so thankful my parents brought us back to India because we’ve kept in touch with our roots. As I grew up and had to visit India for business, the country was familiar to me. Thanks to my parents, they made sure they never took the ‘India’ out of our upbringing. India has always influenced our lives through food, cultural norms, Bollywood movies, and even learning Hindi as a second language in school.
Most of my extended family has now immigrated to different parts of the world. However, I still have many family members living in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Pune, and Kerala.
Q: Wow, sounds like your childhood was very exciting. Tell us more about your immediate family in Dubai.
Since my mom and dad came from two different parts of India, I tasted unity in diversity right at home. At the dinner table, we often had foods from two different states! My parents worked for HSBC Bank for over 40 years. They came to Dubai in the ’70s. My dad arrived in Dubai on a ship! I have an older brother, and I owe him much for teaching me qualities of self-motivation, resilience, taking care of oneself, and never giving up!
Hobbies & Professional Background
Q: Can’t believe your dad arrived in Dubai by ship! What do you like to do in your free time? Do your hobbies influence your work? How?
I’m a hermit by nature. Jokes apart, I enjoy spending time by myself as I’ve always been a little bit of a loner as a child. I enjoy reading, researching different topics, cooking, and writing. Dreaming and writing are my gateways to expressing myself and my thoughts.
As I consider this question, my hobbies have influenced my work. I always say I’m most comfortable when things are ambiguous. It gives me the perfect realm to imagine possibilities, and I can often see the steps required to get the team mobilized towards a common goal. My creative pursuits as a child today have helped me find joy in creative communication, branding, and marketing.
Q: It’s great to hear how closely your hobbies have influenced your professional life. Where did you go to university (undergrad/postgrad)? What did you study? What led you to that field?
I did my undergrad in Hospitality Management in Dubai (The Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management) and Lausanne, Switzerland (Ecole Hoteliere de Lausanne). Post uni, I took up a summer job at the Aluminium Company of Canada (ALCAN), which later turned out to be the first five years of my career. As a market analyst, I traveled the world as part of various projects. I enjoyed the steep learning curve early on in my career.
In 2010, I pursued my MBA at the IE Business School in Madrid, Spain. I was on a 10-member student team with Wharton Business School in the USA during this time. We formed a student consulting team to work on a real-life project with a live client. While business school was intense, it was also one of the most rewarding years. Post university, I realised I enjoyed working in communications, which also allowed me to leverage my strength in writing. From working in startup environments in the first year, I took up a full-time role at a Dubai-based communication and design agency, where I learned the art and science of communication. However, I’m now working with Dubai’s national telecom company in communications while consulting for startups in content and digital marketing.
Q: You have such vast experience in the communications field. In your experience, what have been the biggest takeaways from your work experiences?
Every job has been significant to me, and I’ve learned many lessons for life from them, such as:
- Hiring is beyond just reviewing a candidate’s resume. Take time to talk to the person, learn about their interests and engage in a conversation. Sometimes you can miss hiring the right fit by looking at the resume.
- Understanding the culture of the person you’re working alongside. Sometimes, you can move mountains by bridging simple cultural gaps. Be sensitive to others’ working styles and ethics.
- Never wait for someone else to do a job that you think you have a fair idea of how to achieve, even if it means going the extra mile. Teams are always looking for a leader, so stepping in as one can go a long way in your career. Be a leader and team player, even if it’s not your formal role.
Her Personal, Professional Goals, & Edtech Vision
Q: Such great advice, Delna! What are some of your personal goals that have motivated you?
I’ve always felt the drive to be part of a social cause, especially in education in India. During my several trips to India, it became more evident to me that there was a potent need for quality education for the underprivileged segment in India. Today, I’m thankful to be part of Bloom India through my support in their marketing communications whenever possible. I’ve also always wanted to publish a book, and that goal came true in 2010 when I published my first book titled ‘Whip It! A Guide to Being Sassy & Skilled in the Kitchen.’
Q: Exciting to hear about your personal goals! We’d love to hear what led you to ConnectEd, and what do you do on the team?
Pure serendipity! I met Dennis, the founder of ConnectEd, at a church conference. Here, I heard him mention two keywords that tugged at my soul: ‘education’ and ‘India.’ The rest is history. We connected, and after that I began supporting Bloom India. When ConnectEd started, we saw a natural transition to consult on the marketing initiatives.
At Connected, I’m an advisor to the Content and Communication Marketing. My role involves overseeing the development and execution of social media, the website, blog, and other communication mediums. These mediums include email, digital, and physical flyers. Apart from this role, I also support digital marketing campaigns by working with our digital media agencies and our creative agencies.
Q: You sound passionate about your work. What vision do you have for your specific role in line with the company’s overall vision moving forward?
My vision may be too far and wide, but I believe that’s the opportunity here at ConnectEd! I would love to see ConnectEd hone a marketing team that has the attractiveness of Apple, the trust of Google, and the fun element of Zomato. Today, in a world where there is no shortage of messaging, it’s important to carve a niche for yourself. This niche should be impressionable, trustworthy, and engaging to ensure we capture our audience’s attention consistently.
Q: Your vision is exciting for the future! What are some things you’d like to see this year as you continue to interact in the edtech industry?
I would love to see edtech companies addressing the crux of the matter: providing quality education as a complementary arm to mainstream education. I say this because I feel far too many edtech companies get lost in hyper-marketing. Along the way, they lose the original purpose. The power of reaching into the homes of every student means many opportunities. We shouldn’t undermine core subjects and concepts but add to them. Edtech companies must add additional courses such as presentation skills, how to choose universities, or preparing for university. These companies can come alongside schools and parents to provide holistic education and a unique development platform for students to grow into all-rounded individuals.
At ConnectEd, we benefit greatly from Delna’s professional contributions. She has vast experience and the heart to see great influence in the field of education in India. We’re thankful to have her!