“Listen to this,” I say to Maarten. “I’m reading an email from Swati Bengali – listen to what she says: ‘I believe when you dig below the surface you discover that people everywhere have the same drivers: Love and Recognition. I think every brand choice stems from a need for one or both of these.’”
“That’s a new take on branding!” says Maarten. “Who is she?”
“I told you about her: she’s hopefully going to be our curator for India. Her profile looks impressive: MBA; 18 years of experience in branding and advertising for agencies in Asia, Africa and North America; lived in South Africa just after the end of apartheid and now has left advertising and started her own m-learning business, in which she helps companies develop technology aided learning solutions.”
“Sounds like a smart cookie,” says Maarten.
“And she does volunteer work to get street kids in Mumbai off the streets and into schools.”
“Hmm, smart and nice – when are we meeting her?”
We’ve met Swati at The Sassy Spoon, one of the newer restaurants in Mumbai she recently discovered. “I’m a foodie,” she says as we take our seats at a shaded table on the patio. “Not just because I love food, but also because I think it is a great way of understanding cultures and characters.”
“In what way?” I ask.
“If you think about it, the flavour of foods reflects the spirit of a nation or culture: Thai food is like its people: it looks deceptively pleasant, but if you dig into it you discover fieriness; Italian food is like Indian food – full of colour and emotion, like its people; Japanese is subtle, artistic, restrained; American is big, brash, loud, generous… I could go on and on.”
“So you eat your way around the world and learn about new cultures,” says Maarten with a cheeky grin.
Swati smiles quietly. “Well I guess you could see it that way. It’s true that I love travelling – to see and experience cultures close up. And I love to drive.”
“Really? Even here?” I say with an air of disbelief as I recall our hectic drive through the complete chaos of Mumbai’s streets.
“Yes even in this crazy traffic,” says Swati. “But I’ve also done several road trips across India, Europe, North America and every country in southern Africa.”
“I’m interested to know more about your decision to leave advertising and start your own business,” says Maarten. “What made you take that step after 18 years?”
Swati looks out over the gardens for a minute and then says: “You know I guess my choices in life have always been led by my heart. Right now I love that I am involved with something that is so new everywhere in the world. To identify m-learning solutions for industries and sectors I have worked with, to learn and build it from ground up as an entrepreneur. It’s invigorating.”
“And what would your heart say to joining our team and becoming the CoolBrands curator for India?” Maarten asks. Swati laughs and says, “I’d love to be a part of it!”
Tags: Swati Bengali, CoolBrands NextWorld Storytelling, NextWorld, CoolBrands Storytelling, Storytelling, CoolBrands, curator India, coolbrands curator India, swati, meeting swati bengali, bengali, #ATW80B, #CBNWS31 December,2013