If there was one way to describe Divya, it would be ‘thinking ahead, in a big way’. Since impressing EU professors in 2015 by presenting a thesis on the cutting-edge topic of cryptocurrencies, which at the time was an unknown and uncharted topic, Divya has gone on to explore the latest trends in adtech and digital marketing, and landed a job with one of the biggest start-ups and video entertainment tech companies in the world! When it comes to expanding her skillset, she is relentless, never turning down an opportunity to broaden her career horizons or enrich her global profile.
Tell us about your background and path to working in Global Business Solutions at TikTok:
In 2010, I moved from India to the UK to pursue my Bachelor’s in Management Studies at the University of Nottingham. After I graduated, my friends and family advised me to take a gap year or work before pursuing further higher studies, but I really wanted to continue studying and exploring where I wanted to be career wise in the long run. The MBA in International Business at EU was the perfect opportunity, which truly helped me tie a broader international aspect into my education and career prospects.
I was in Montreux for two years and then moved to Montenegro for a few months to work with the government as their Marketing Lead for the Balkan area. From there, I headed to Amman, Jordan to help my father with his IT and energy industry focused business. After about a year of working with him, I took on a few projects and travelled to New York to run a few meetings and to travel and explore the US. Initially, I had no plans to stay in NYC, but I somehow felt at home here! By now, I already had a degree in Management Studies and an MBA in International Business, and work experience in Marketing and Finance operations. But inexplicably, I was gravitating towards Digital Marketing as a career. One day in NYC, I walked into New York University to explore what course options were available for me. Luckily enough, I stumbled upon a suitable course, and enrolled myself in a second master’s at NYU. This is how I pursued my second master’s in Integrated Marketing with a focus on web analytics and took on some internships while I was there.
In 2017, I interned at Business Insider Inc. on the publishing front, creating international Fintech, Drone tech and Crypto focused content for Business Insider Intelligence. After completing my internship at Business Insider, I joined NYU’s Office of Global Programs as their Social Media Assistant to work as their social media content creator and curator for their 14 global campuses. Given my international background and global focus, these roles were a perfect route into getting a taste of the industry I wanted to build my career in.
After graduating from NYU in 2018, I accepted an offer for a programmatic position from one of the largest media agencies in the world, GroupM (WPP). Programmatic marketing isn’t taught in schools, and given it was a newer, different sector that I had read and heard about so much, I was up for the challenge to further refine and develop newer skills. I didn’t have any specific programmatic experience, but the hiring manager really saw my calibre in terms of my education and work background. It was a steep learning curve with an A to Z of programmatic advertising on top of handling clients with multi-billion-dollar portfolios. After a year, they offered to promote me to a Senior programmatic associate position, but around the same time, I got another opportunity at News Corp, who offered to hire me to build and advance their in-house programmatic hub, News IQ. Joining News-Corp really spearheaded my career direction; I was working with over 60 clients and running over 200 live programmatic campaigns at any given time. During my tenure with News Corp, I juggled between a Programmatic Trader, an Account Manager and an Ad Ops specialist role.
I had a great learning curve and developed invaluable skills while at GroupM and News Corp. But after three years of being on the client side, I felt like I was getting a bit stagnant in my career, so I started exploring and came across an opportunity at TikTok. A lot of people that join TikTok are from Meta, Google or Snapchat, but I didn’t have platform side experience with social media companies.
Despite coming from a different work background, I reached out to and met with a few people from TikTok. My approach was never that I was looking for a role; it was really about my interest to learn about the opportunity and roles, and if they could help me to better understand their day to day and experience there.
After networking with current employees for some time and then getting referred from an old colleague, I got an offer from TikTok, and I couldn’t have been happier! It’s something I never expected to do, and while it’s challenging at times, I’m learning and growing daily, and the network that I’m creating is priceless!
Can you explain your role as Technical Solutions Manager?
Think of TSMs as the Alpha/Beta Product experts and consultants, who facilitate communication between Product and Sales teams from a technical lens. I work as a product expert, running product activations with teams, consulting clients on product strategy and bridging the gap between XFN (cross functional) partners and clients. It’s a more technically advanced position, but it’s a good balance between sales and product! I work across multiple verticals (FinTech, DTC, Apps & Gaming) and act as a consultant on various aspects (product pipelines, client strategy, testing strategy and product activation).
How does TikTok differentiate itself from other social media platforms?
The number one thing that I believe differentiates TikTok from their competitors is their undivided and unduplicated audience. People who are on TikTok are not necessarily on Instagram or Snapchat, and so we have a unique audience base.
People who really understand advertising at its very core, coming from publishing, media agencies or social media all work here together because it’s ‘THE’ entertainment tech platform nibbling away at the digital advertising market share in a big way! The technology behind it is one of a kind and the reach and influence they have on their community is undifferentiated. No other platform has the influence that TikTok has, especially because of their community focus and community-first approach! TikTok gave birth to ‘Raw and Real’ UGC or user-generated content in a way that no other platform was able to, making it the leading pioneer in this industry.
Why are companies choosing to advertise on TikTok?
TikTok is a relatively new platform. We have big competitors, but TikTok is creating the uniqueness of a community. I personally used to search on YouTube for all my hacks and recipes, for example, but now I subconsciously switch to TikTok for almost everything. The unique creators, the ‘world at your fingertips outlook’, the ease with which you can scroll and get whatever information you’re looking for, and the intuitive reach and ‘ease of use’ approach that TikTok has generated is incomparable.
What is the future of TikTok?
TikTok is a rocket ship, and I am glad to be a part of it! The sky is really not the limit anymore, as things move and change here exponentially. Before I joined, I had an assumption about TikTok, that it was just another platform for Gen Zennials, but there has been a clear mindset shift. The scale at which TikTok is growing is sure to make many heads turn and view entertainment from a new unique lens. What TikTok creates is so unique – literally no one else is doing it. Other platforms are following trends or are adopting products “inspired” by TikTok, so it’s already ahead of its curve. The future is limitless, and this is just the beginning!
How has EU helped you on your career path?
My studies and experiences have shaped me into who I am today. It’s not just about the degree or the school you study at, it’s the confluence of everything together. EU gave me a platform that I could not have gotten from anywhere else. The students I met there are some of my best friends and I think I would need another interview session for just the professors. They are some of the most amazing and respectable people I have ever met in my life! They were so involved in my career and growth and were always there for me. They truly became my family in Switzerland!
Whenever I interview with a new company, they always mention EU and ask me about my experience in Switzerland. I have lived in six different countries, and my most unique experience was undoubtedly in Switzerland! I explored myself and my capabilities and true strengths there. I was able to successfully progress in my career and work at such different companies in such unique fields, mainly because everyone I spoke to and interviewed with saw how truly global I was in my educational background and work ideology. EU’s program really prepared me for the next big step and gave me such a global and wholesome outlook.
People always ask me the reason why I pursued an MBA before an MS, as usually it’s the other way around. I feel like the MBA program helped me build a solid footing and an in-depth overall understanding of the many aspects of running and working with global businesses, whereas my MS degree helped me gain a specialization in a niche sector. If I didn’t have that deep-rooted base from EU, I wouldn’t be where I am today!
What advice would you give students who would like to work for big social or entertainment platforms like TikTok?
Never try to fully fit the bill! Don’t be limited by job descriptions or judge your own capabilities based on job requirements. Most of the time, you won’t fully meet them. If you show true curiosity, eagerness and willingness to work and learn, and a hunger to grow in an industry and positively contribute, you can get a job with any company you want!
Gain industry knowledge by keeping on top of industry news and latest developments – join the numerous webinars and conferences that many companies hold for free (LinkedIn is your best resource!). Reach out to people who are in positions and companies you aspire to be in and learn as much as you can. Keep updating and upgrading yourself!
Always stay connected to the people you’re working, living and learning with. Create a network and build on it. Your network is truly your net worth. Giving back is equally, if not more, important. Your time and experience could be worth millions for someone else! Share your experiences and help others wherever and whenever you can. You have been in their shoes too at some point. Network, contribute, share and grow together!