Who is a Category Manager?
A Category Manager is the one who manages the in and out of the category. Basically scaling up the specific category.
Category management is a retailing and purchasing concept in which the range of products purchased by a business organization or sold by a retailer is broken down into discrete groups of similar or related products; these groups are known as product categories (examples of grocery categories might be: tinned fish, washing detergent, toothpastes). It is a systematic, disciplined approach to managing a product category as a strategic business unit. – Wiki
How it all got started for you?
I did my graduation in Computer Science and I quickly realised that I do not like coding at all. As I am a technical sales person, I was very active in college festivals i.e getting sponsors, and marketing the festivals. So I had that knack of sales and talking to people.
What do you do and how do you do it?
I am basically involved in the process of making a difference in people’s lives by enabling them with the power of retail exports. A small company which can now sell internationally, gives a lot of satisfaction and that’s why I love my job. I am taking care of gems and jewellry category and meet a lot of jewellers on daily basis who want to sell internationally, but do not know the process. So that’s where I come into picture and make them understand the process.
You did go through a rough patch after being employed in some good organisations. What did you learn?
Yes, I have been part of some great organisations and after a peak there came a little downslide, but that taught me some great lessons.
I left an MNC for a payment company because of demonetization and I thought I have taken a very wise decision. But that turned out to be a nightmare, as the company I joined struggled for funds and I had to go through a layoff. Later I joined a startup which did not have its product ready which meant they could not get the desired results. Again the layoffs happened. Now I prefer companies with a broader sense and a long term vision.
I played on my skills to land the present job. I have been a leader and cross border has been my forte so this job gives me both.
Startup vs MNC is a big question for many. Having worked with both what do you recommend for someone who is starting his/her career?
It’s a very difficult choice.
- A startup is more aggressive and always on the edge. Whereas an MNC job is more relaxed.
- You get a good growth in a startup and a stagnated growth in MNC.
- If choosing a startup please check its product and reliability also their vision is very important. In the MNC people are very important. If you have good people around you the life becomes easy.
What do you wish you knew before you started preparing for this career?
I wish I knew more about the process of jewellery making and the pain points the sellers face while shipping the jewellery abroad.
The job is not very different from what I did but P&L (profit and loss) is something that surprised me, and that is the most exciting feature as well.
What do you love about your current role?
I love talking to people and that’s what I love and other perks are secondary. However work life is very exciting.
What are the challenges you face in your career?
It’s not exciting if it doesn’t challenge you. So setting up a process in a startup is exciting as well as challenging.
Can you please summarise your career journey?
- +2 – Science with Computer
- Graduation – B.Sc Computer Science
- Started working in Airtel, selling sim cards and after some time I was selling resort membership.
- Cracked the interview at Indiamart, Surat and after 6 months I was promoted as Sales Manager.
- Regional Manager – eBay. During my 6 years journey in eBay, I got 4 promotions and 8 appraisals and 3 awards. I met lot of excellent brains in the industry and got to learn a lot of great things(Mar 2014 – Dec 2016).
- Senior Area Manager – Freecharge. Due to demonetisation the job was a layoff (Jan 2017 – March 2017).
- Regional Sales Manager – Anchanto, a startup which again turned out to be disappointing (April 2017 – Jul 2017).
- Category Manager – Gems and Jewelry, Eunimart (Aug 2017 – present).
- I have a certification in Imports & Exports.
- Done various seminars and workshops as well.
- Conducted lectures in management schools on e-commerce.
I want to run my own company someday and change the way the companies run these days.
What sort of experiences helped prepare you most?
Well, I strongly believe in karma and think “what you sow, so shall you reap” philosophy. I believe everything in life, no matter how small or big, it teaches you something or the other.
My experiences have given me a lot of learnings and I have developed a lot of personality traits. I have become a lot more patient and responsible, as well as able to understand people’s behaviour as well.
What do you think everyone leaving higher secondary school should know?
In General: Every body leaving Higher Secondary school must know what they want to achieve and never ever in life run after money. Because, everything you do or you aspire to do, one thing that will absolutely follow is money.
E-Commerce industry is not very different from other industries. It’s just the approach. You should know the market and target audience in order to succeed in the industry.
One can be industry ready only through two factors, skills and education. Learn as many things as you can and develop the required skills.
What are the skills and education required to be a Category Manager in 2020?
There is no such education required.
- Sales and Business Development
What is the alternate career option for a Category Manager?
A category manager can be a business head of any organisation as P&L is involved.
What do you look for while hiring a Category Manager?
Passion and Product knowledge
How do I know if a career in e-commerce is for me?
E-Commerce is an industry where everyone can be involved in some or the other way. Even a housewife or a student can start their online business. But as a career, an MBA student can give it a try. Everything is online today and e-commerce is involved in every industry in some way. So you have to know e-commerce in any industry.
I am 17 and I am planning for a similar career path like yours. What advice you have for me?
Concentrate on your basics and develop the required skills.
Any recommended resources students who are interested in Category Management?
LinkedIn is the most preferred website for all the information.
Any final messages?
Focus on what you are good at and try to develop skills which you are not that good.
There is no shortcut to success.
Try to do things differently and ask as many questions as possible.