Many of the people I interview for Aurora love to hold forth about how work is their life, that they never stop thinking about it and profess undying love for their job, which they term ‘a craft’ without which their lives would be incomplete.
In contrast to these self-confessed workaholics, Asad Memon, Managing Director at Creative Chaos, believes in having ‘a work-life balance.’
He tells his team members to leave on time, “especially on a Friday night,” so they can enjoy the weekend. So meeting Memon is quite refreshing.
However, that is not to say that he is a slacker – far from it. Despite the fact that he is only 31 years old, he holds a senior position in one of Pakistan’s leading digital agencies. Yet, he is also humble and down to earth. His portfolio encompasses varied projects on digital media – including web architecture, app development, ecommerce and digital measurement frameworks – for countless brands including those in the FMCG and telecom sectors. One of the most challenging included work done for Coke Studio.
“For Coke Studio we had to move out of our comfort zone. We normally take eight to 12 weeks for web development projects; in this case we produced work within hours. It taught me and my team how to deal with such operational challenges.”
Pakistan Idol was another experience.
“I had to set up a special team of web engineers, video editors, account managers and graphic designers; we also had to send staff on ground to cover auditions and provide live updates on social media. There were so many moving parts and a lot of juggling had to be done.”
One of the biggest challenges for Memon (and most digital professionals in Pakistan) is “explaining stuff to our clients, because many of them do not understand the medium. However, times are changing and 2015 will be different because budgets for digital media are increasing.”
Throughout the interview, I notice that whenever Memon talks about a project he has worked on, he never uses the word ‘I’. It is always “my team did this” or “we worked on that”. When I point this out to him, he says:
“Our work culture is such; I did not do all the work and therefore cannot take credit for my team’s work. If I did so, they wouldn’t like it and neither would I; it is important to me to acknowledge their efforts.”
“I did not do all the work and therefore cannot take credit for my team’s work. If I did so, they wouldn’t like it and neither would I; it is important to me to acknowledge their efforts.”
This statement prompts me to ask him what he brings to the table as an individual. His reply is that “I bring technological understanding, and I also know how to ‘marry’ marketing and technology and can therefore point my team in the right direction.” (Here is the ‘team’ word again.)
Memon confesses he is mad about technology, and has been so ever since he was very young. Most of his childhood was spent in Hyderabad and he moved to Karachi to do his Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science at CBM and then an MBA.
“At the pre-admission interview, I was asked why I should be enrolled at CBM. My answer was that ‘I am crazy about technology and here is the proof.’ I then showed them an issue of Spider which featured a website I had created with my brother, called Hyderabadis.com (a website on the lines of Apna Karachi) in the early 2000s. There were no further questions.”
While doing his MBA, Memon was also working at Creative Chaos, and his advice to young aspiring techies is to do the same.
“Once you are working, you have real life examples to learn from. I used to be a tough student and asked a lot of questions such as ‘Why are you teaching me this?’ or ‘When will I use this?’ and every time I was given an answer I had an example from work to counter it.”
While in college, Memon (who was known as ‘Bill Gates’ among his contemporaries), won several awards for a project he calls DigiCut.
He describes it as “a computer controlled robotic tool which allows users to make different designs on mediums such as wood, plastic and aluminium.”
He reveals he will use the inspiration behind DigiCut for a forthcoming project for Creative Chaos.
“The core technology and learning will be reused in a completely different context for the purpose of marketing... You will see some cool stuff coming out of our shop in 2015.”
Memon is married and has two children. He says his wife is very accommodating given his work schedule which tends to be hectic from time to time. Like his work, his hobbies are varied, and surprisingly, not all of them have to do with technology. He recently painted a wall in his house, made a hanging lamp; he also designs and makes shoes, and is part of an early morning cycling group.
Despite having been at Creative Chaos for eight years, Memon has no plans to move; he says he couldn’t imagine working anywhere else. He is extremely excited about some of his forthcoming projects and although he is unwilling to disclose the details, he does say that it has something to do with digital retail experiences.
“My team and I have been working on an idea where customers are given a chance to lower the price of a product by tweeting.”
Given his passion for technology, it is not surprising that Memon lives his life with the following words in his mind:
“If you can imagine something then it is possible.”
Mamun M. Adil is Manager, Business Development & Research,
the Dawn Media Group. firstname.lastname@example.org