Life On The Job as a Digital Strategist

Ever wondered what it's like being a digital strategist in Malaysia? Sutheshan Shanmurajah is here to share with our gradmalaysia readers the inside story of a digital strategist.
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What Does A Digital Strategist Do?

A digital strategist can encompass such a wide variety of roles, but I personally aid brands in connecting their business objectives to the elusive consumer mindset and needs. Broadly, strategy deals with challenges that sit across digital marketing, consumers, creativity, and technology.

Though the day-to-day varies often, my role focuses on the development of the following: digital offerings and innovation, online brand presence, pathways that enhance the consumer experience, custom solutions for business challenges, and analyzing trends for testing and learning opportunities. I am also present across all areas that are relevant to a brand such as research, ideation, conception, execution, and learnings. In short, strategy is about forging a connection, engagement, and relevancy between a brand and its consumers.  

At University 

Back in 2001, I chose to study a brand new undergraduate degree in mobile communications engineering as I believed in the power of mobility and the internet in improving society. It was the right choice as today in the year 2014 this technology has advanced so much that we live in a connected digital world that has improved the way we run our daily lives. However, implementing new revolutionary technology requires many stakeholder involvements and that propelled me to pursue a postgraduate degree that taught me how to navigate business management, politics and policymaking in bringing changes to society. I rely on what I studied at both my universities to bring fresh thinking to my job.

My Company And Job 

I work in Maxis Berhad, the leading telecommunications company in Malaysia. I work in various strategy functions in the organisation and have been involved with, among others, the acquisition of new companies overseas, bidding for new technology licenses and scouting for new business opportunities to bring the latest innovation to Malaysians.

The Best And Worst Bits 

I like my role in strategy that requires me to continuously think of new possibilities of using technology to introduce new solutions to the market. It gets more exciting because the industry dynamics, customer demands and technology advancements change almost every day!

My Most Memorable Achievement At Work 

My most memorable achievement was working on a merger & acquisition (M&A) project that was the largest transaction in South East Asia that year. It was quite an exciting time for me because I had to learn finance from scratch, present to investors and prepare strategy papers for the Board of Directors, among other interesting activities.

Getting The Job 

I was interviewed in Manchester as the Maxis team flew down to UK to conduct the interviews. It was just the usual interview but I suppose it was honest answers about my passion for the industry and its impact to society that may have made the difference. It was quite exciting to be given the job on the spot and this was my prime reason for accepting the job from a confident and fast decision-making company.

Be Prepared For

In my role in strategy it involves tight deadlines, but with effective time management and with the right motivation, you’ll love working in this environment, especially in the telecommunication industry that is continuously evolving with new innovation.

Some Advice 

University degrees help frame your thinking structure and work experience helps put them into practice. But what is important is to realise what your passion is and work towards achieving that because that is what will keep you motivated and help you excel in your career!