Introduction: Tell us about yourself, your background and what you do currently
I hail from a conventional business jain family based out of Indore (M.P, India). In this society, it is very challenging to make our own identity. The belief is that father provides Your identity during childhood. After marriage, it all depends on the husband and his family. This belief made it very challenging for me to grow at the initial stages. After completing my schooling, I graduated in commerce again from an all girls’ college. I wanted to do BBA but I was not allowed as it is co-ed. After my graduation, I did an MBA in marketing. I was asked to do CA.
I refused because I have always liked marketing and advertising. I wanted to work or do business. Instead, I was just asked to teach as this job was considered to be respectful and family’s image and identity would not be at stake. My interest in marketing and advertising motivated me to do PhD in advertising even while I started teaching. Here, the best thing about my family was that they allowed me to study and teach. Both soon became my core strengths. I loved teaching. I studied marketing and advertising as I am an adventurous person. Thus, exploring new concepts, areas with students came naturally to me. After completing my PhD in advertising, I received many opportunities at different institutes to teach.
MICA was my main choice here as I wanted to be the very best in advertising and marketing teaching and research. When I received this offer, I married in June 2008 and joined MICA in July 2008. The family thought I would never be able to survive as I had never lived alone till then. However, dramatic growth at the national and international platforms in terms of scholarship and publications proved that my foundations and passions were strong. Since, a decade several awards such as outstanding woman management researcher award, young researcher award and outstanding management researcher award have added to my resolve. Very importantly, I received offers from globally renowned professors from leading universities such as North-western, USA and Emory, USA to work with them. They saw my potential and passion and requested me to visit their universities. This entire journey had many obstacles but I overcome them easily with my passion, dedication and eagerness to grow and learn as a scholar.
Currently, this passion helped me in 100 publications at the age of 37 years. I think under 40 years of age; I am the only one professor who has 100 publications in India.
Tell us about any current projects or initiatives you wish to promote
I am currently working on marketing research projects that integrate consumer behaviour, advertising and branding. My focus is on digital natives, digital media, digital usage as these consumers and platforms have changed all the marketing paradigms. I would like to develop novel theories in the digital areas that can be benefit all the countries. I would be proud to do so as the world would study the theories developed by the scholar from India who comes from a brand that has dedicated itself to marketing and advertising.
I am writing books on digital natives from India and eventually China and other countries in the subsequent years. I am also developing novel concepts for digital self, digital advertising and un-stereotyping of women in advertising, heritage city branding via digital media, women premium lingerie and identity with storytelling, luxury branding, political branding, yoga and so on. I work with a 360-degree framework which means that I work with my students, colleagues and senior professors. This framework has facilitated continuous learning and dissemination of knowledge which are the keys to success.
What has been your biggest challenge in achieving your success?
The biggest challenge has been the societal and peer pressure. I think as woman I always wanted to explore by skills and knowledge and strengthen my strength. However, societal pressure was the major obstacles. I managed this challenge by thinking about my dreams and passion and bigger picture. After getting married and having a son, it became all the more difficult. This difficulty increased further as my family lives in the different city. I meet them only over the week ends included my family which includes husband and son who have become my greatest sources of inspiration now. I explained them about my work and the bigger picture.
Thus, this family education helped me a lot. I have now developed the balance between professional and personal life by meeting them over the weekends. I spend two nights in a week in the train (even when I conceived my son) to meet my family and since 10 years I am traveling to meet them besides my other domestic and international travels which I have to do for work. If there is a will, challenges can be easily converted to opportunities. I use my time and energy on work over the week days which help me acquiring wonderful result. Most importantly, I would like to thank MICA as none of this would have been possible without their support. MICA also understands women oriented issues and focuses on women empowerment. MICA helps women to further in their life which is really wonderful.
What has been your greatest achievement personally?
My greatest achievement is that I have developed an identity which is “wow” for my family and society. I have accomplished beyond their expectations and desires. I have lived in the US and worked on the research projects which changed my thinking and orientation towards the life as well.
If you weren’t doing what you do now, what would you be doing?
I am tempted towards choreography and dancing. If I were not a scholar or a professor, I would be a choreographer. The common traits are adventures and novel thinking. I use this creativity and skill set in my current job which makes it distinctive and cutting edge research work.
Who has been your biggest inspiration?
My biggest inspiration comes from Profs. Jag Sheth and Don Schultz. They are my real inspirations as whenever I feel down, I think about their achievements and accomplishments. They are the legends of the marketing scholarships. I learnt marketing from their books and theories and it is an honour to work with them. They always inspire me to change the marketing paradigm. They are the one who made this national scholar into an international professor.
They have always asked me to look at the bigger picture instead of cribbing about the micro level environmental factors. They consistently motivated and inspired me to move ahead and developed a road map of my life in terms of the professional’s milestones. These milestones were not only set up by them but were also facilitated by these globally renowned scholars. Hence, the real inspiration comes from being focused and do trade-offs which will help achieving the milestones. These trade-offs are primarily related to my personal life as the professional world needs more time and energy.
What does the future hold for you?
I would like to become a globally renowned international marketing scholar. People of different countries would read my books and papers. I really want to serve students, academics and industry professional to learn new knowledge in terms of digital and marketing and give back to the society.
About the author
Dr. Varsha Jain is an Associate Professor in Integrated Marketing Communications and the Chair, Dissertation, Co-chair, Research at the MICA (India). Dr. Varsha has authored 100 publications in international, national and trade journals, book chapters and case study collections, including the Journal of Product and Brand Management, the Journal of Marketing Communication, Healthy Marketing Quarterly, the International Journal of Mobile Marketing, the Journal of Consumer Marketing, Young Consumers, the Asia-Pacific Journal of Business Administration, Middle East Media Educator, Marketing Insights and Marketing News, marketing management text book 15/e (Philip Kotler, Father of marketing and this text book is bible for marketing management, case contributor, by invitation) Ivey case collections and the Emerald Emerging Markets Case Studies Collection.
She has also won gold medals in the categories of not only, “Outstanding Management Researcher Award – 2016”, “Young Outstanding Management Researcher – 2013”, but also “Outstanding Woman Management Researcher–2012”, awarded by AIMS (The Association of Indian Management Scholars) International. In her research and teaching career, she was visiting guest at Emory Business School, Atlanta, USA in April 2017 (invited by Distinguished marketing professor, Jagdish Sheth) and visiting scholar and guest at The Medill School, Northwestern University, USA in May 2013 and April 2015 (invited by renowned marketing professor, Don Schultz, and visiting professor at the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Indore in July 2013 and IIM, Trichy in December 2014. Her research specialties lie in digital marketing, luxury branding, and digital natives. Dr. Varsha’s current work entails writing a books on Consumer Behaviour in an Interactive Market Place and Customer Relationship Management with Prof. Don Schultz (Northwestern University, USA), Prof. Jagdish Sheth (Emory University, USA) and Prof. G. Shainesh (IIM, Bangalore, India) respectively.