Consumer Insights Specialist and Career Coach
K Aditya Rao was born and brought up in a normal middle-class upbringing in the city of Mumbai, India. A beloved single child, Aditya’s mom is a doctorate in Physics while his dad was a medical practitioner turned businessman.
And thus, it took everyone by surprise when Aditya started suffering from convulsions in his childhood. “Its medication somehow slowed down my learning process quite a bit. This often made me a laughing stock of my peers, as they took me to be incapable and a loser at times. In this endless battle of trying to stand up for myself, I became more observant and vigilant about people and happenings around me,” reveals Aditya, adding that he could do this only because of his parents, who stood by him through thick and thin.
Today, he is happily married to his wife Ranjitha and has a wonderful son Ashhvik, both of whom keep him grounded and in check all the time. Aditya feels he can understand people more clearly now and make sense of what they want in the milieu and context of their lifestyle.
The years of keen observation skills that Aditya picked up as a child have come in handy in another life altering way. “My circumstances in the early stages of life have had a huge impact on me as a person. They have not only made me a keen observer, but also always intrigued me as to how people think and act. This is precisely the reason why I chose to follow the path of Consumer Insights and Market Research,” he shares.
Aditya joined Nielsen in around 2007 and has been in this profession ever since. Following Nielsen, he has been a part of Millward Brown, (Now Kantar), Ipsos, Emami, Marico and Mahindra. He has also been associated with various management institutes in Mumbai as a visiting faculty for more than nine years.
Yet somewhere the quest of being independent and wanting to have an impact on the field (wanting to make it more mainstream, unleashing the power of insights) left Aditya wanting more. This resulted in his own outfit in 2020 – Aditya Rao Consultants. Today, Aditya is a Consumer Insights Consultant, Career Clarity Coach, Entrepreneur, Writer, Poet and Professor.
How did he balance the challenges in his professional and personal life?
“I think the word ‘balance’ is a very abused word, my wife keeps telling me to not keep running all the time but also enjoy the moment. I think this advice is something I have taken a little more positively and thus, have been focusing on what I do in the moment completely,” answers Aditya, adding he’s always looking to learn more, be more and do more.
Aditya’s biggest strength has been looking for ways to add value to the clients’ business. How did he achieve this during the pandemic? “The best mantra I followed during these times was to collaborate with other people in India and overseas. This enabled me to get the best of both worlds, get global spread for my brand, and also helped grow business. We specifically looked at businesses which didn’t have the skill sets that we bring to the table, and collaborated with them. That has been our biggest strength and mantra for growth,” says Aditya.
While there are many practitioners in Aditya’s field, very few gain expertise and share it with the rest of the community. Speaking about the immense satisfaction he derives from his work, Aditya says, “The very fact that I have been a practitioner and faculty in the same area is a big achievement for me. I look upon it as giving back to the domain wherein I practice. What is even more fulfilling is that many students have followed me into this field; and many people I have worked with still seek and value my opinion, even though they have domain experts within their respective organisations.”
We can’t let Aditya go without asking him his mantra for success. “Find the stuff you are good at, your IKIGAI as they say in Japan, and focus your expertise in the domain. That will ensure your continuous growth. My mantra can also be summed up in two quotes: Oscar Wilde’s ‘Be yourself, everyone else is already taken’, which means we need to be true to who we really are, and ‘Hold the vision and trust the process’, which means we need to stick to the basics, be better than the person you were yesterday and keep learning and growing in our area of expertise,” sums up Aditya.