Passion and persistence pays off for Mokshada
In only six years Mokshada Batra Tandon has gone from graduate study to work unpaid to an experienced professional taking her pick from a choice of well-paid jobs in respected companies.
Her career in media and communications started with the decision to study something she thought she would enjoy by enrolling in a Bachelor of Arts (Media and Communications) at the University of Melbourne.
“I’m very grateful for my university studies which provided me with skills I would need, such as writing, speaking to all types of people, working on group projects, social skills, and information gathering,” she says.
All of these skills, plus some you can’t learn at university, such as passion, persistence and self-belief, would be needed when she left university and threw herself into the complex job market in Mumbai.
“I was in Mumbai meeting as many people as possible and applying everywhere. In India it’s not easy to get a job just on your credentials. You need to network,” she says.
“I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but I knew I wanted to be in media or marketing. I wanted to be on the camera. I long had a passion for theatre and performance. I even considered acting.”
Fortunately she met somebody who gave her the contact details of a network executive at television station NDTV.
“The executive told me there were no vacancies, but I knew how to contact him, so I pursued him. I kept asking him to take me on. I told him he didn’t need to pay me. Just take me as an intern and get me to carry bags or whatever needed to be done – just let me start,” she says.
Eventually he became convinced and hired her as an intern. She then decided her next task was to make it impossible for them not to take her on as a permanent staff member.
The first three weeks were challenging as the fast-paced nature of the media meant nobody had time to train her or explain how things worked. However, as she wanted to become permanent, she found the time to research and write a story.
“There was a rule that interns are not allowed to do pieces to camera, but I pitched the idea to the executive, who had become my mentor, and he advised me to go ahead and do the piece,” she says.
Her story about restaurant advertising impressed him and he decided it was good enough to run on the air.
“Some people did question whether an intern’s story should be played on air, but by the time it was discussed, it was too late to find another story.”
The story impressed the right people and she was given the opportunity to present more stories. This helped her prove she would be a valuable member of the team and soon the decision was made to make her a paid member of staff.
During her subsequent on-camera career at NDTV’s business channel she was able to work with some of the country’s most influential business people, especially during a series called Boss’s Day Out where she followed and interviewed company CEOs while they worked a typical day.
One highlight was when she interviewed Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan in a half-hour special for the television show All About Ads.
All this experience was vital when she decided to return to Bangladore to be closer to her family and was able to secure a multi-faceted role at the city’s NDTV office.
After almost four years working for NDTV, her next career move came unexpectedly. Her father became ill and was temporarily unable to help manage his travel agency. Putting family first, she took up his position as a director and very quickly learned to work in a new environment with people with different skill sets.
“As a journalist you feel you have power because people are always contacting you trying to convince you to run their story. Managing staff was very humbling. From my staff I learned skills I didn’t have and about the importance of good customer service. I had to take a course in how to use the company’s airline ticket purchasing software,” she says.
After almost two years and with her father’s health recovering, she was able to hit the job market again to take her next step in life. This time with wide-ranging education and experience and an established network, she didn’t need to prove she was indispensable.
She was offered a number of positions but decided to become the internal communications manager for ANZ India’s global shared services. In this position she writes newsletters, links staff with colleagues in Australia, assists with brand management, and drafts communications on behalf of senior staff.
“I still love the media and considered returning to the industry, but I chose to take the position at ANZ India because it is a chance to try something new,” she says.