Alumni / July 19, 2019

Digital Strategist Excels at OgilvyRED

Rishi Kadiwar, '05 and MBA '10

A multimillion-dollar social media campaign on two of China's most popular platforms requires careful planning and vision. Digital Strategist Rishi Kadiwar, '05, MBA '10, says success also requires global mindset — especially when team members work in multiple countries and speak numerous languages.

He says global mindset often starts with self-awareness and humility. "You have to speak less and listen more," says Kadiwar, a Global Consulting Director at OgilvyRED, a strategy and consulting group integrated with creative agency Ogilvy & Mather. "During that discovery stage, you just want to zip it and let the client talk."

Kadiwar says he discovered the value of listening early in the process when a multinational pharmaceutical company came to OgilvyRED for help with product branding in China. His team went to work on solutions but faced a reality check when the client explained the various compliance issues for pharmaceutical marketers who want to advertise on WeChat and Weibo.

"We had our own set of hypotheses going into this project," Kadiwar says. "We had to listen to the client and pivot."

Different communication styles also created cross-border challenges. Kadiwar grew up in the United States, where team members typically feel comfortable speaking up regardless of seniority or rank. Other cultures put more emphasis on hierarchy, which means some people might stay quiet when a supervisor is in the room.

"Clear communication was key because team members came from various power distance countries," Kadiwar says. "We wanted to make sure everyone's views were brought forward."

Cultural awareness comes naturally for Kadiwar, who was born in the United States to immigrant parents from India. But he also values his global experiences at the University of Maryland, where he participated in a study abroad program in Europe.

"If you get a chance to study abroad, definitely do it," he says. "It really does open up the way you approach problems."

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About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and part-time MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, specialty master's, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.

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