Sarmad Zargar is a young management student from Srinagar. He founded a global consulting firm-‘White PageInternational’ in 2013 with a diverse portfolio that includes brand consulting, print advertising, AV production, creative advertorial promotions, PR and research. In an Interview with Kashmir Convener, Sarmad Zarger shares his experience with the correspondent. Excerpt:
KC: Tell us something about yourself
Sarmad Zargar: I was born and brought up in Kashmir at Amjeed Bagh Sanat Nagar Srinagar and shifted to Delhi in 2006 for studies. I graduated in marketing and finance and then completed my MBA in Marketing &Finance. I also got an opportunity to pursue investment banking from National University of Singapore. I later spent some time working in Delhi & Bangalore with various firms like Fever 104, IQPC before moving to Singapore for a while to work with FutureGov Asia and finally started my own company-White Page International in 2013
KC: Tell us something about your company
Sarmad Zargar: White Page International is a global consulting firm with a diverse portfolio that includes brand consulting, print advertising, AV production, creative advertorial promotions, PR and research. The goal is to create a substantial and lasting improvement in the performance of our clients and strengthening their brand value. We serve to accomplish the goals of the brand for their products and services in the form business journalism and PR. With more and more brands turning to marketing content, we leverage paid-channels like advertorials and social media coverage for optimum coverage. White Page aims to be the world’s leading consulting firm, this is what drives our focus and efforts to be the ideal partner for its clients.
The White Page team is an exuberant group of individuals from different backgrounds sharing the common passion of creating an impact by the work they do.
White Page Consulting was born out of the need to create a platform for brands to communicate with their audiences in a manner that is easily understood. To create a bridge that creates lasting relationships. In today’s market where brands are getting tangled in ineffective and big budget communication and eventually get plunged into the abyss of anonymity, we provide solutions that are based on market reality
We don’t let brands take unbridled courses and get lost in the competition. We first understand the brand and where it wants to be, and accordingly create a strategy that best suits it. Sometimes that might mean a little change, while at other times the situation might call for locking horns with the big boys.
KC: How did your journey begin?
Sarmad Zargar: The journey began with a unique idea of creating a brand research product in the market that serves as a benchmark of rating various brands in Asia. For this we got various industry experts on board from London, Dubai, Singapore and India and associated with big four consulting firms like Ernst & Young and Pricewaterhouse Coopers and now “most admired brands” serves as a benchmark of rating various brands in Asia.
We now also execute brand shows with CNN News 18 and India Today Group. There has been a lot guidance from Prof. Malcolm McDonald, Non Executive Chairman of White Page International based out of London who has written fourty six books on marketing including the best seller “Marketing Plans, how to prepare them, how to use them” which has sold over half a million copies worldwide. Hundreds of his papers have been published. “So my journey wouldnt have been as enriching without those important people who taught me that a true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer.”
KC: What challenges did you face, while you were setting up the business?
Sarmad Zargar: The Market is very competitive and unless and until your product is not unique and innovative, it is difficult to survive. But as mentioned earlier, some great partnerships and guidance from some top industry experts worldwide helped us create a name for White Page International in the market and now we feel proud to be associated with some of the biggest brands in the country and other parts of Asia. There are some big players in the market like Superbrands, Times Group and thus surviving in the market with such big players around is definitely a challenge.
KC: Most of the people find it feasible to move out of Kashmir for better opportunities, How do you see all this?
Sarmad Zargar: Kashmir being a conflict ridden zone has far less opportunities than rest of the states of the country. We lack proper resources. In Kashmir, people want to have government jobs which are hard to get in present times. Moreover, we are paid less in the private sector, so we are compelled to leave. It also depends on the nature of business. The industry that I represent has better opportunities outside Kashmir.
KC: Your Future Plans?
Sarmad Zargar: We plan to go global and execute various conferences outside India. Our next target is London. We are currently working on a brand research project with UK Asian Business Council.
KC: Your message for those who would want to set up similar business?
Sarmad Zargar: There is a lot of competition in the market and henceone needs a lot of patience and perseverance in the industry. You may face rejection also at various stages but one needs to strategise and plan carefully to move ahead in thisindustry
KC: What’s your advice for millennials?
Sarmad Zargar: Work hard, stay humble, be respectful. Always try to maintain a balance between work and personal life. Don’t engage in unfair practices to get ahead and always be willing to learn. Be your own boss.Create, take risks and live your passion because if you don’t build your dream, someone else will hire you to help them build theirs.”