About Condé Nast –
Attracting more than 120 million consumers across its industry-leading print, digital and video brands, the company’s portfolio includes some of the most iconic titles in media: Vogue, Vanity Fair, Glamour, Brides, Self, GQ, GQ Style, The New Yorker, Condé Nast Traveler, Allure, Architectural Digest, Bon Appétit, Epicurious, Wired, W, Golf Digest, Golf World, Teen Vogue, Ars Technica, Pitchfork, Backchannel, them and Iris. The company’s newest division, Condé Nast Entertainment, was launched in 2011 to develop film, television and premium digital video programming.
Here is the Personal Interview that we conducted at his residence in Guwahati when he visited India in December last year.
Correspondent: Tell us about yourself?
Ainul Huda: My name is Ainul Huda. I was born and raised up in Assam. My career has taken various interesting turns so far. I started my career as an Engineeer. I have worked in India and London as an Engineer for roughly 3-4 years. Then I went to the United States for my MBA Finance but actually ended up in Media. And what was interesting was that I was able to use my engineering background and knowledge I had gained in finance using data and do I apply them in media for consumer growth. Since then I have worked in number of different companies in different roles and as of now I work for Condé Nast which is a Mass Media Company which owns brands such as VOGUE, VANITY FAIR, GLAMOUR, GQ, THE NEW YORKER, etc. Out there I work as a Vice President of Analytics and Audience Development which translates into data research, internal consulting and digital marketing.
Correspondent: Tell us about your early school days?
Ainul Huda: I think my school had a great impact in my life. I learned a lot in Assam Valley School. One thing that I really enjoyed was not just a pure focus of academics, it was a balanced growth in terms of personality, areas of sports, hobbies, socio curricular activities and why these all were important? For the growth in your career or to grow within a company, you need to know things like team working, you need to be able to trust your team mates and how do you learn all of this other than playing sports.
As you grow in your career you learn that it is not just about your own skill set, it is also about how well you work with everyone and how compatible you are.
Correspondent: Tell us about an instance or an individual from Assam Valley School who till today have an impact in your life and something which happened in Assam Valley School which you still remember.
Ainul Huda: That’s a hard one to say because there has been so many different people who had a very positive impact on me but I can give you a flavor of it with shades of different people who have impacted my life. So going back to school there would be my Computer Science teacher, his name is Tushar Bharadwaj. I hope he still remembers me and just talking to him and talking to him about my interest in computers at that time. He really helped out when it came to guidance and he used to tell me which thing I should be doing more and how to get more involved in programming. Now, if he hadn’t encouraged me to pursue my interest at that time, then most likely I wouldn’t have gone for Computer Engineering. Then my Principals or Headmasters at that time, there were two of them at that point of time. They taught me about ethics and why academics is important, you cannot discount that but equally is of importance is ethics. And that’s what actually stands out in the long run.
Correspondent: Since you used the term ethics. I want to put forward a question to you regarding the same. You are considered as one of the Corporate Leaders holding a respectful position in a Globally renowned organisation. Do you actually believe Ethics still got a chance to roll its dice in this competitive world where we every encounter or came across incidents where businesses are giving up on ethics just to be on the top.
Ainul Huda: If you think about it what led to 2008 financial crisis, that was the time I went for my Business School. People do take shortcuts and they cannot be that ethical in their business practices. And that’s why in India, the US and many countries, many regulations have been enforced to prevent malpractices.
Correspondent: How well has your family supported you in your journey?
Ainul Huda: I think family is very important. Both my father and mother have been government servants and the first thing they have always taught me is the value of hard work, there is no shortcut to success. And the next thing I really learned while growing up is the value of time, ‘Axomiyat koi nohoi je homoi ketiyau ghuri naahe.’It is a very important thing. Even now I tell my team that the motto of my life is that “My every moment counts.” So things like this had played a very integral part. Even when I decided to go for my business school, when not necessarily not too many people from my family were into that line of work, they always have been engineers or civil servants. But my parents whole heartily supported me and said it’s okay that we don’t understand it completely but we know that there is a value for it, we will support you for whatever you want to do as long as it is for a progressive process and it helps you to progress. So, I don’t think without their support I would have been able to go to the US and pursue my higher education.
Correspondent: Why data analytics and which year it was exactly?
Ainul Huda: It didn’t necessarily happen as a decision. It happened as more of a progression. Coming from an Engineering background, being a Computer Engineer and working as Software Developer for about 3-4 years, by definition people with similar background are strong in numbers, data and logic. As I went to Business School I figured out that even acquiring all the necessary basic finance and marketing skills that my strong point continues to be Data Analytics. So it was natural progression how I could combine the skillsets I learned in the school with my natural abilities.
Correspondent: Guwahati is still developing. And we realise that not many people knows what data analytics oe audience network actually means. When you introduce yourself out here, what do you put forward first, the name of the organisation that you work for or the position you hold and the role you play?
Ainul Huda: If I am trying to do a business deal or see at a point of time if I am trying to introduce myself, I always talk about my company, but tomorrow I may change my company but what will not change is my identity. So, both are equally important. It depends a lot on with whom you are interacting and what message you want to pass on.
Correspondent: Publishers influence the mindset of the masses. Do you think responsible publishing is the need of the hour?
Ainul Huda: We live in an era where people often use the word “FAKE NEWS”. It is becoming more important for publishers to create content and publish news which stands true and people look for that. Today the kind of information that you have at your fingertips, five years back it would have taken forever. And for all purposes, be it US elections or be it the Indian elections, it is influenced by the media a lot.
Correspondent: Tell me about how an ordinary day in your life goes by.
Ainul Huda: The first thing I do when I wake up is check my mailbox. Not a very healthy practice and I shouldn’t be doing that but by habit it’s the very first thing that I do in the morning after waking up. If I get time, I try to go for workout. I try to get to the office by 9’o clock and the moment I get to office, I plan out my entire day and I develop a very clear idea of what I want to achieve by the end of the day. I have a very large team to manage and it is impossible for me to attend every meeting. My team is of 80 people and there are 18 different brands and 3-4 different functions, and I cannot involve myself in just everything. So its start with a very clear idea about what I want to do the whole day and what I want to achieve. Prioritizing the tasks is the most important thing. I try to come back to my home by 7 or 7:30in the evening but that never happens. I am a strong believer of hard work but it is also very important to have a work life balance. The better you manage your life, the sharper your thought process becomes.
Correspondent: What are your favorite TV Series?
Ainul Huda: I watch Game of Thrones and I really like House of Cards. But then I can give you the name of 50 TV series that I love watching. I am too much into NETFLIX. I also love Stranger Things, it is very enjoyable.
Correspondent: What would you go for? Healthy Diet or Tasty Diet –
Ainul Huda: I have to do healthy diet but if I could I would always go the tasty ones. Besides Indian food, I really love Japanese food. They have lot of barbeques, sushi, I really enjoy their soups and I also love some of the Vietnamese foods. I also like East-Asian food.
Correspondent: Your viewpoints on current startup scenario that has taken pace in Guwahati.
Ainul Huda: Nowadays people are taking risks, people are trying to do new things and families should continue to encourage that. The other part, the other aspect is there has to be funding. It’s not the easiest thing to get funding in North-East and I know it from my friends and also there are Companies like Cityora which has done tremendous job by taking risks which not lot of people has done and they had to go the extra mile to secure any kind of funding. So, I think it is a combination of talent and funding that would be critical for the success of startups in North-East India. And the fact that there are so many problems to be solved and there is so much interests, I think it would continue to be a big potential as long as we can have a very cohesive way to encourage the people; both interest wise and financially.
The Rapid Fire round with Ainul Huda –
Correspondent: Theoretical knowledge or skills with experience?
Ainul Huda: Skills with Experience.
Correspondent: iOS or Android?
Ainul Huda: iOS, ofcourse.
Correspondent: Uber or Personal Cab?
Ainul Huda: Hard one. But still, UBER.
Correspondent: Mercedes or BMW?
Ainul Huda: BMW.
Correspondent: Nike or Reebok?
Ainul Huda: Nike.
Correspondent: Nikon or Canon?
Ainul Huda: None.
Mr. Huda is an highly talented individual with industrial expertise in data and analytics. He serves one of the most important respectful position in one of the most renowned organisation in the world. Our personal interview with Mr. Huda went smoothly, a very wise and down to earth individual he is. He is well filled with knowledge, skills and expertise. Getting to know him this closely was a great learning experience for the team. We wish Mr. Ainul Huda all the very best for his future endeavors.