Meet Parna Sarkar-Basu, a tech advocate, corporate marketing strategist and founder of Brand and Buzz Marketing, LLC, she is the V.P. of brand marketing for Women in Technology International and serves on the board of American Marketing Association Boston, member of Forbes Communications Council, mom, and wife.
Who is Parna Sarkar-Basu? Define yourself.
I am a proud mom of two wonderful children and the wife of a highly talented scientist. As a global citizen, I enjoy traveling, trying new things and helping people as best as possible, especially students, entrepreneurs and women in tech. As an entrepreneur, I redefine brands and humanize technology. I work closely with executives who are catalysts for change and elevate companies to new heights. I build and boost corporate brands and turn subject matter experts into rock stars, in their respective industries. It’s a great feeling to be part of a fundraising team or expanding a company.
How were you as a kid?
I’ve spent my student life in boarding schools in India. I loved sports and was the captain of my college cricket team and led them to a championship victory. I also played national level cricket and was involved in various other sports. Overall I was just an average kid, though my friends called me a ‘TomBoy’.
"I enjoy turning companies into innovation leaders and expand – fast, cost-effectively and with empathy. As I tell my clients, you don’t need a multi-million dollar budget to become a leader or create a brand"
Tell us more about your education, you have a Master's degree in Literature (MA) at Delhi University, why did you decide to study that?
I wanted to be a doctor but was told that girls must marry and raise a family. I have a master’s degree in world literature, and a minor in economics, and was preparing to be a teacher. I loved Greek literature and added Greece to my bucket list as a student. Last year we visited Greece. It was a surreal feeling, walking around Athens and seeing the ruins -- the Acropolis and the Parthenon to the Temple of Zeus and the Roman Angora. It sure made the plays and stories that I read come alive.
You are from India, why did you move to the USA and what happened next?
I moved to the States with two suitcases to join my husband, who was then doing his Ph.D. at MIT in Boston. I had no job and no one wanted to take a chance on a young, unknown entity, despite my solid background in advertising. To make a long story short, I eventually joined the tech industry. I got to work with brilliant entrepreneurs and business leaders in various global companies and was privileged to have a seat at the table – which I was very proud of.
You are an award-winning marketer and have led corporate marketing and corporate communications functions in the the technology sector in companies like iRobot, Invention Machine (acquired by IHS), PTC and iCorps Technologies among others. How did you jump from that point to become an entrepreneur founding Brand and Buzz Marketing?
Throughout my career, I was constantly in awe of entrepreneurs for putting everything on the line to build a business around an idea. I was also fascinated by technology and their impact on society, people and planet. Once our kids graduated, I took the plunge and started my consulting company to help multiple companies simultaneously vs. working for one company at a time. I enjoy turning companies into innovation leaders and expand – fast, cost-effectively and with empathy. As I tell my clients, you don’t need a multi-million dollar budget to become a leader or create a brand.
You’ve rebranded dozens of companies and recently WITI. Tell us about it.
Carolyn Leighton launched WITI 30-years ago and I am thankful to her for starting the organization as are the thousands of WITI members. But there are over 7,000 women in tech organizations and we wanted to stand out from the crowd. As a corporate marketing strategist, I wanted to leverage my expertise to help Carolyn and David Leighton take WITI to new heights. To make a long story short, it is the only women in technology organization that has a global reach with 60+ networks. It now stands for the three Is Innovation, Inspiration, and Inclusivity. WITI is about empowering innovators, inspiring future generations and building inclusive cultures. We want to be the gold standard for gender inclusivity, make men part of the solution, empower both men and women professionals and bring out the very best in them. We are now in the process of rolling out to the new messaging to our networks worldwide and our 600+ corporate partners. It was also an honor to represent WITI at the *NASDAQ closing bell ceremony and see me on the *NASDAQ tower.
"Gender inclusivity starts at home where parents should make sure their children learn to respect each other and teachers should also encourage more girls to pursue STEM careers"
You serve as a strategic advisor to entrepreneurs and CEOs in the U.S. and Europe and work with their teams on a variety of initiatives, including new market entry, marketing innovation, and digital transformation. You often serve as a Boston Ambassador for the British Consulate and meet with U.K. women founders. You appear frequently at key industry events and speak on a range of topics, including cognitive robotics, innovation for social good, tech trends and the future of work. What´s the recipe of your success?
My recipe for success is a passion, empathy, and collaboration. I stay on top of market trends, emerging technologies so I can counsel my clients effectively and ensure they stay relevant in their respective industries. As for speaking engagements, I am humbled and honored when I am invited to share my experience and expertise at various events.
You are a very busy woman and still, you find time to be an advocate of STEM initiatives, you build and support programs to inspire women in technology and future innovators. You serve on the board of WITI Boston and American Marketing Association Boston, among others. Why do you volunteer your time?
Giving back to the community/society is important to me. Volunteering is a way of life and has been since I was in high school. If I can help improve the life of even one person, then my existence is justified.
Based on your experience, what are the reasons women do not get involved or study in the areas of STEM? What can we as a society do to change that?
I’d say two reasons. 1. They are not interested in STEM and prefers to pursue other careers such as marketing or finance. 2. They felt bullied, made fun of while in school and called a *‘geek’ for taking sciences classes or joining a math club. Gender inclusivity starts at home where parents should make sure their children learn to respect each other and teachers should also encourage more girls to pursue STEM careers. There are bias and stereotypes, conscious or unconscious. But we should continue to support each other, mentor future generations and be a sponsor for deserving professionals.
What is the the reality of your day-to-day?
It’s about making sure my client's needs are met and my family is happy and healthy. Which translates to emails, meetings, deliverables, while staying in touch with the family.
Do you have any particular philosophy that guides your career decisions?
Don’t be afraid to take risks or ask for help.
"The one advice I give to my mentees and peers is to stay connected with key people and don’t just reach out to them when you need a favor"
What do you love most about your job? & what is the most difficult part?
I love changing market perceptions and redefining brands, which is extremely hard as you may know. It’s great to partner with the executive who is the catalyst for change in an organization and being successful. The most the difficult part is turning skeptics into believers, especially employees who have been with a company for a long time. But they eventually come around once they start seeing results.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I stay in touch with my network and reach out to them just to say hello. The one advice I give to my mentees and peers is to stay connected with key people and don’t just reach out to them when you need a favor.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Staying focused on my client's success.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I like to learn new things, travel to new places and meet new people. I also share my insights on Forbes.
Many authors say women can and must strive to have everything – a shining career, blossoming family life, and a perfectly balanced lifestyle all at once, others point out that– then women are placing unrealistic expectations on themselves if they believe they can have it all, you are married and have children, according to your experience, what do you think about these statements?
Being a wife, mother and an executive, and now an entrepreneur isn’t easy. We tend to put a lot of pressure on ourselves. We want to be perfect in each role. Yes, we put a lot of pressure on ourselves.
But I think that’s what makes us more efficient and productive. We can multi-task, meet deadlines, take care of our family, run errands -- without missing a beat. Achieving success is easier when you have a supportive spouse/partner. My husband and I have always supported each other in our respective careers, as well as in parenting and household chores. As a mom, I am very proud of my kids and love them unconditionally.
What are your plans for this the second half of 2019?
Continue to deliver exceptional customer service and help my clients end the year strong.
There is still the glass ceiling for women in the world: Fewer opportunities, jobs underpaid just for that fact of being a woman, etc. Have you experimented the glass ceiling? if yes, What are the biggest challenges you have faced and how have you overcome them?
I have been very fortunate to have been part of various global executive teams – often the only women in a room full of male executives. In the beginning, I was extremely proud of having a seat the table – especially since I didn’t grow up in the U.S. Soon after I realized we needed more women around the table and started advocating to get more women to join the leadership team as well as on corporate boards.
"Achieving success is easier when you have a supportive spouse/partner.My husband and I have always supported each other in our respective careers, as well as in parenting and household chores. As a mom, I am very proud of my kids and love them unconditionally"
What tips, can you give to young girls, who want to work in technology?
If you are pursuing a STEM career, your future is bright. You’ll almost always have a job. If you are not an engineer and want to be in the tech industry, look for positions that align with your skills and interest – from marketing and creative to finance and HR. You don’t have to be a ‘geek’ to work in the tech industry.
Who is the woman you admire the most and why?
It’s hard to pick one but I’ll go with Joann Morgan, one of NASA's first female engineers. She exemplified tenacity and smarts while paving the way for the rest of us.
Something else do you want to add or share with us?
I was proud and humbled to see my name on the *NASDAQ tower.
Name: Parna Sarkar-Basu
Company: Brand and Buzz Marketing, LLC
Designation: CEO and Founder
Country: The USA
*Nasdaq is a global electronic marketplace for buying and selling securities, as well as the benchmark index for U.S. technology stocks. Nasdaq was created by the National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD) to enable investors to trade securities on a computerized, speedy and transparent system, and commenced operations on February 8, 1971. The term, “Nasdaq” is also used to refer to the Nasdaq Composite, an index of more than 3,000 stocks listed on the Nasdaq exchange that includes the world’s foremost technology and biotech giants such as Apple, Google, Microsoft, Oracle, Amazon, and Intel. (Investomedia.com).
*Geek: Someone who is intelligent but not fashionable or popular, someone who knows a lot about science or technology, especially computers. (Cambridge dictionary).