POSE&FOCUS: WOMEN IN ADVERTISING - MEGHNA KOTHARI
This week's Pose&Focus: Women in Advertising highlight is someone I consider to be the queen bee here in Los Angeles. Meghna started her career working at ThinkLA, formally Ad Club of LA, where pretty much if you went to an annual industry event she either planned it, greeted you at the door or reached out for a donation beforehand. She is now the founder of her own events company with an impressive list of clients within the industry. Those who know Meghna, and if you don't you've been living under a rock ha ha, I hope through this detailed read you'll get to know here a little bit more. So lets get to it, people!!
For those that are not familiar with the industry, please provide a description of what you do. I’m a corporate events and marketing manager in the Advertising Tech industry. Throughout my career I’ve created all types of events from small custom experiences, educational panelist events to large concert type events.
How did you first become interested in advertising? I went to CSUF to study Advertising and wanted to be an account executive or project manager at an Advertising Agency. In-order to graduate I had to complete an internship. So I did my internship at a non-profit trade organization called Ad Club of LA, now ThinkLA. Thinking I could meet and network with a variety of agencies and find myself a good job in a competitive market.
What made you want to pursue a career in event planning? Through my internship at Ad Club of LA I helped with their events, working registration or setting up sponsor signs, etc. I was the President of the CSUF Ad Club and planned events for our student members to help them gain exposure and land jobs in advertising after graduation. Planning events back then felt so natural, but I guess I never thought of event planning as a career. To me event planning was planning weddings, tradeshows or Oscar parties! By interning I kinda fell into it and over the years found out that it’s actually the perfect job for me and a great fit for my personality!
What does a typical day look like for you? Does it include any daily rituals? My every day is different! Which is the best part of my job. Some days I’m researching, conducting site visits, talking to vendors, putting timelines together, talking to insurance agents, finding creative ways to make the event interesting and/or tasting food to finalize the menu!
My daily rituals include DRINKING COFFEE, the brain doesn’t function without some caffeine. Once I’ve had my first sip I start reading and going through all my emails. Making a TO DO list of priorities for the day, catch up on LinkedIn, Facebook, AdWeek, and other random sites and blogs that catch my eye. And then I read a positive or funny quote or meme to start my day off with a smile or chuckle.
What are the top pressures in your position? Coming up with a creative event that’s unique and different from other events, all within a budget! Balancing creativity and financials is a delicate balance. Planning a great event, but then actually tracking ROI back to the event.
What personal traits do you contribute to your success? And Why? Being resourceful, flexible and outgoing. It also helps when you have an outgoing personality because you have to be able to talk to a lot of people with a variety of personalities.
Any big success stories that stand out the most when looking back at your career journey thus far? The following are the things I consider a success so far in my career.
I had the opportunity to run The Multicultural Advertising Training Program. I helped over 150 multicultural college students find paid internships and helped them start their career in advertising. That helped me meet great young talent that were trying to break into our industry. Their enthusiasm and excitement always reminded me of the great industry we were in.
Help grow ThinkLA which is the advertising trade association. We planned and executed events that helped colleagues grow and succeed in their career.
Built a strong network from all aspects of the industry where some of these relationships have become life-long friendships.
What was your professional highlight within the last year? Getting to work with friends in the industry and having the opportunity to control my own schedule all while doing what I love and know.
How did you end up working in Los Angeles? Well I grew up in SoCal so LA was the big city for me! It’s such a great city with lots of opportunities, people and things to do. You can have a new adventure every day if you wanted.
What was your first gig in the industry and what were the steps you took to get hired? My situation is a little unique cause I stayed at one place for 9 years which is so unheard of in our industry. I interned at Ad Club of LA, now ThinkLA, for the summer and after graduation and completing my internship I was hired on full time as a coordinator. I was having so much fun and growing in my position that I stayed for 4 years. After that I was ready to move on and find a job in the agency world, which is what I wanted after graduation. I started interviewing and unfortunately had a personal tragedy, so I stopped looking for a new job and stayed put. It took about two years to put myself back to normal, and then before I knew it four years became 9! As our industry changed I was able to grow and change with it. Now looking back, me staying at ThinkLA for 9 years was actually a blessing in disguise. Sometimes the universe has a plan for you that reveals itself in time.
What advice would you give women who are thinking of working in the industry? Build yourself a network! A network of other women that are your peers or that you look up. And also build genuine friendships with people that work in other departments.
Advertising is a very social and people driven industry and so having real friendship will help you grow in your career, help you find your next job, and help you vent to those that understand exactly what you’re going through. Also, its great support following a long work day!
What has changed in the industry from when you first started out? Is this change good or bad? When I started in the advertising industry, print, TV and email advertising was the leading medium. As technology changed the growth of digital advertising changed our industry all together. Seeing the change first hand as advertising marketing has changed has been fascinating and I’ve learned a lot. Change is the only constant, so to answer your question, yes change is good. We must get use to change and be able to adjust to the change, especially when things unexpected happen!
When starting out, any mistakes you learned from that you would like to share? I would say not doing more than one internship before taking a full-time job. I never gave my-self the opportunity to learn about different opportunities in our industry. I might have been a great media planner! Lol
In moments of self-doubt, how do you pick up and keep moving forward? I take some time to myself and decompress, sometimes that just means staying in my PJ’s and watching comedies or movies that make me feel good. And other times it means hanging out with some of my favorite people that always make me laugh and encourage me. I think sharing what you’re going through with other people helps you see your problem through someone else eyes and helps you gain a new perspective. When we sit and dwell or go over the same issues in our head it’s hard to find a way out of the negativity.
With just three adjectives, describe yourself. Genuine, Helpful, Empathetic.
What is one interesting thing about you that most people don’t know? What most people don’t know is that I’m obsessed with Bollywood Movies and Music. Growing up it was one of the ways I could stay connected to my culture growing up in the states and not being around a lot of other South Asians.
What does the word “success” mean to you? Success to me means loving what you do, working with people that you enjoy, helping others, always having time for your family and friends and making enough money to travel and experience the world around us.
As women we tend to have a lot of roles between home and work. How do you manage a healthy routine between personal and work responsibilities? I’ve been more career-minded than worried about my personal life. So it took me a while to figure out that both parts of your life require balance. Your work is important cause that’s your livelihood. So I’ve learned throughout the years that you can give 120% at work, but then when you’re not working you give 120% to yourself as well, learn to disconnect. Only when you disconnect you can recharge. Also, I won’t compromise and miss big life events of those that I love. Those moments don’t return and you end up spending your time regretting not being there for your loved ones. Family and friends mean more to your life than any job.
What are your go to resources for inspiration? I absorb energy from people, so my biggest inspiration comes from other people. Learning about different cultures, foods, what they have gone through and how they overcame obstacles gives me great inspiration. I also learn so much from children, because I love seeing the world through their eyes. Children will teach you how to enjoy the little things in life, how to fully laugh from the bottom of your belly and they will teach you patience, which is a virtue we lose as adults.
In event planning you get exposure to a lot of really great restaurants. What is your #1 recommended restaurant in Los Angeles right now? And what menu items are a must? There are just too many places. But here are my top three.
Sushi is always great in LA. My favorite Sushi is Sugar Fish any Trust Me option is great.
Fig and Olive – Mushroom Croquette, Burrata Heirloom Beet, Entrees: Chilean Sea Bass and Truffle Rissotto
Tar & Roses - whole roasted branzino, popped corn, brussel sprouts
What is one thing in Los Angeles you have been dying to do/try, but haven’t had the chance to yet? Climb up to the Hollywood sign. Which is very illegal.
Los Angeles Rapid Fire Qs: Top Pick
The Grove or Americana? The Grove
K-ZO or SugarFish? Sugarfish
Santa Monica Pier or LA Art District? Santa Monica Pier
UCLA or USC? NEITHER, I’m a Cal State gal.
405 or the 101? 405
Rodeo Drive or Melrose Ave? Melrose
Shutters or Terranea? Shutters
Disneyland or Universal Studios? NIETHER
Museum of Ice Cream or Getty Museum? Museum of Ice Cream, cause I love ice cream!
Thank you for your support in reading this post! Pose&Focus: Women in Advertising is my personal passion project dedicated to highlights women in the advertising industry through interviews and creative expression. Having been in the business myself for over a decade, I found it very important for women (and men) to support female leadership in our community & industry. Especially with our current political climate this mission is more important to me than ever before. I want our female readers to know when they come here they will get solid advice and actionable steps that they can use to elevate their own careers. To learn more about upcoming posts or when nominations for Vol.3 will open, follow me on Instagram or Linkedin for the latest news.
Thank you and be cool.