Q&A with Sarita Bahety, Strategic Alliances and Partner Marketing Lead at Cognizant

Sarita Bahety, Strategic Alliances and Partner Marketing Lead at Cognizant, builds and nurtures partnerships with technology alliance partners to strengthen Cognizant’s position as an industry leader in enterprise Data and Intelligence solutions and to accelerate growth by delivering on joint value propositions with the partners that solve their customer’s needs and increase their digital maturity. She manages pan-European partner marketing. Her work experience ranges from startup to Fortune 200, across multiple industries and geographies.

In addition to managing and growing a network of their tier-one strategic alliances and trifecta, she also advises a leading telco in the Middle East on how to accelerate data protection and privacy adoption for all of their employees.

Marketing is a very dynamic field. What was relevant yesterday may or may not be relevant today and tomorrow. Good storytelling is never going to get out of trend.



MEDIA 7: Could you please tell us a little about yourself? What inspired you to get into marketing?
SARITA BAHETY:
I manage the Strategic Alliances and Partner Marketing for Cognizant’s Data and Intelligence business in Europe.  I delved into the realm of marketing because it naturally aligned with my passion for storytelling. Just as in real-life interactions, I believe that to be successful in this field, your narrative is the key.

While growing up in Nepal, this saying often sprung up in conversations, which when loosely translated into English means, “if you can tell a compelling story, you can easily sell flour. Otherwise, you will even struggle to sell rice (generally considered superior over flour, in that part of the world). I really like this saying.

During my school days, I had an opportunity to take a graduate course where marketing was one of the core subjects. My cohort at school, especially in the marketing courses, was very diverse and it made the learning process very rewarding. Since then I have had a number of opportunities to work in various roles in marketing across industries and regions. Each one of them contributed to my professional growth.

M7: How does your ideal customer profile look like?
SB:
We count an array of C-suite buyers as our clients including those who are technology as well as business-facing. We work with the broader C-suite, given that the budget owners, decision-makers, and influencers are no longer confined to a single job title. Our key stakeholders include personas in the space of Information, Technology, Data & Analytics, Digital, Privacy, Risk, Marketing, Legal, Lines of business leads to name a few.

M7: What have been the most valuable lessons you’ve learned about strategic partnerships and effective marketing over the last few years?
SB:
Strategic alliances are key to business growth. Our team always emphasizes the winning formula, “1+1 Equals to 3”. We endeavor to prove this together with our strategic alliances. We work with the established leaders in the industry. Together we put world-class thinking and top-tier technology to deliver results that create positive business impact and improve outcomes. It is a collaboration designed to help our clients' businesses grow.

In my opinion, to make an alliance successful, networks are super important. At the same time, a partner eco-system can only be as effective as the people driving it. This a people-centric business driven by strong client and partner relationships. A robust personal network in the industry across geographies and connections at both business and technology levels are fundamental to accelerating the revenue. To succeed, one must cultivate relationships across functional areas internally and within the alliance organizations across the regions. An ability to connect with people across cultures can help seamlessly navigate this industry. This approach helps to bring the best practices into action.


Personal networks are key to your professional growth. Reach out and often. With most people regularly accessing and interacting on virtual platforms, networking has now become a level playing field.



M7: What strategies and tactics have you put in place or would you like to put in place to help drive revenue?
SB:
From a strategic alliances perspective, to drive revenue, it is important to have the right focus on who and how we partner with. Once this is established, then we need to create a solid go-to market strategy and execute it with the support from executive sponsors. An alignment of vision on both sides needs to done upfront. It is equally important to highlight the strength of the alliance to all the stakeholders across the business. Consistent communication is the key. Each alliance is unique and hence requires a bespoke strategy and an execution plan.

On a tactical level, regular cadence with our partners helps to uncover potential opportunities early in the sales cycle. This allows us to not only jointly solve the business challenges our clients grapple with, but also to fuel innovation.

M7: What do you believe are the top three marketing challenges that have arisen in the post COVID-19 era?
SB:
The implications of the pandemic have led to clients accelerating their shift to digital. Digital is no longer perceived as a unique selling point; in fact, it has become the “new normal.” Given that there is a significant shift in marketing towards digital, it is important to be able to stand out in an otherwise crowded media. With people’s waning attention and real online fatigue, the need is to consistently create compelling and engaging narratives and articulate value. As a marketer, the language of our messaging has to resonate with the emotions of our clients, irrespective of the industry and the time zones we are in.

The second key challenge is to generate Return on Investment (RoI) from the marketing campaigns. Marketing campaigns can at times become like a catch-22 situation. Future investments are often tied to the results of previous campaigns (where applicable). We need to think of an integrated approach versus a one-off campaign to drive mindshare. Putting together a holistic approach needs collaboration with various stakeholders. As a marketer, one needs to excel in the art of bringing together people and ideas, to be able to deliver a successful marketing campaign. Even in the age of online meetings, people skills continue to be super important.

Finally, there is an urgent need to ensure data privacy. While a large section of the business has moved to remote work and digital systems, renewed attention has been drawn to data privacy. In the digital world, data is at the heart of the business. As such, not only in the field of marketing but also across the business, data privacy should be built by design and not as an after-thought. Today, like every other part of the business, marketing also needs to adhere to data privacy regional and global regulations. Adoption of best practices and technologies, which promote data privacy, can help win client trust and foster innovation.


In addition to knowing the heart of the story, it is essential to know your audience too. The more we get an understanding of both, the more engaging a narrative becomes.



M7: What is your advice for young women considering a career in marketing?
SB:
Marketing is a very dynamic field. What was relevant yesterday may or may not be relevant today and tomorrow. However, good storytelling is never going to get out of trend.

To my younger self, I will re-emphasize the power of storytelling and acing this art. In addition to knowing the heart of the story, it is essential to know your audience too. The more we get an understanding of both, the more engaging a narrative becomes. Although we live in the age where apps can help with any language-related support (grammar, translation, phrases and idioms that fit the context, etc.). However, effortless storytelling needs a significant amount of work and no app can (yet) replicate it real-time like a skilled storyteller. Use it to your advantage to create visibility for yourself and create a compelling personal brand.

The more you interact with people, the more opportunities you get to hone this skill. Personal networks are key to your professional growth. So, do not be shy. Reach out and often. With most people regularly accessing and interacting on virtual platforms, networking has now become a level playing field.

ABOUT COGNIZANT

Cognizant is one of the world's leading professional services companies, transforming clients' business, operating and technology models for the digital era. Our unique industry-based, consultative approach helps clients envision, build and run more innovative and efficient businesses. Headquartered in the U.S., Cognizant is ranked 194 on the Fortune 500 and is consistently listed among the most admired companies in the world. Learn how Cognizant helps clients lead with digital at www.cognizant.com

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The over $150 billion combined business will seek to deliver clients market-leading, holistic infrastructure expertise across equity, debt and solutions at substantial scale. Marrying the proprietary origination and business improvement capabilities of GIP and BlackRock’s global corporate and sovereign relationships provides a platform for diversified, large-scale sourcing to support deal flow and co-investment opportunities for clients. We believe bringing GIP and BlackRock together will deliver to clients the benefits of broader origination and business improvement capabilities. Founded in 2006, world leading independent infrastructure investor GIP manages over $100 billion in client assets across infrastructure equity and debt, with a focus on energy, transport, water and waste, and digital sectors. GIP’s performance has been driven by proprietary origination, operational improvements, and timely exits. They have successfully scaled their global equity flagship series, with the most recent fully invested flagship fund in 2019 surpassing $22 billion. BlackRock’s over $50 billion of infrastructure client AUM is comprised of infrastructure equity, debt and solutions, and has grown both organically and inorganically since inception in 2011. Top investment talent at BlackRock lead franchises that include Diversified Infrastructure, Infra Debt, Infra Solutions, Climate Infrastructure and Decarbonization Partners. The GIP management team, led by Bayo Ogunlesi and four of its founding partners, will lead the combined infrastructure platform. They will bring with them talented investment, and operationally focused business improvement teams with a strong track-record of building and running high-performing private markets businesses. GIP’s founders and teams remain highly committed to clients, and we expect the integration with BlackRock’s broader platform will generate even greater opportunities. Subject to completion of customary onboarding procedures, BlackRock has also agreed to appoint Bayo Ogunlesi, GIP Founding Partner, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, to the Board at the next regularly scheduled board meeting following the closing of the transaction. “Infrastructure is one of the most exciting long-term investment opportunities, as a number of structural shifts re-shape the global economy. We believe the expansion of both physical and digital infrastructure will continue to accelerate, as governments prioritize self-sufficiency and security through increased domestic industrial capacity, energy independence, and onshoring or near-shoring of critical sectors. Policymakers are only just beginning to implement once-in-a-generation financial incentives for new infrastructure technologies and projects,” said Laurence D. Fink, BlackRock Chairman and CEO. “I’m delighted for the opportunity to welcome Bayo and the GIP team to BlackRock, and happy to announce our plans to have Bayo join our Board of Directors post-closing. We founded BlackRock 35 years ago based on a unique understanding of investment risk and the factors and forces driving investment returns. GIP’s deep understanding of the factors and forces driving operational efficiency for long-term value creation have made them a global leader in infrastructure investing. Bringing these two firms together will create the infrastructure platform to deliver best-in-class investment opportunities for clients globally, and we couldn’t be more excited about the opportunities ahead of us.” “I’m excited about the power of this combination and the prospect of working with Larry and his talented team. We share with BlackRock a culture of collaboration, client focus, investment partnership, and commitment to excellence. Investors have adopted private infrastructure investing for its ability to provide stable cashflows, less correlated returns, and a hedge against inflation. Global corporates have turned to private infrastructure as a fast innovator and a more commercially agile owner of infrastructure assets that aren't core to their commercial businesses. This platform is set to be the preeminent, one-stop infrastructure solutions provider for global corporates and the public sector, mobilizing long-term private capital through long-standing firm relationships,” said Bayo Ogunlesi, GIP Founding Partner, Chairman, and CEO. “We are convinced that together we can create the world’s premier infrastructure investment firm.” About BlackRock BlackRock’s purpose is to help more and more people experience financial well-being. As a fiduciary to investors and a leading provider of financial technology, we help millions of people build savings that serve them throughout their lives by making investing easier and more affordable.

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