Article: We invested in HR – and that made a difference: Aayush Bansal, BlackCab

A Brand Reachout InitiativeStrategic HR

We invested in HR – and that made a difference: Aayush Bansal, BlackCab

“At a team size of 15, we founded our 'Organisational Development' department by hiring an Organisational Psychology and Human Resource team. This team is deeply integrated with our operations, employee and culture management,” said Aayush Bansal, Co-founder and Director, BlackCab.
We invested in HR – and that made a difference: Aayush Bansal, BlackCab

The global marketing sector is worth billions of dollars, and one of the companies working towards giving a fresh approach to this sector is BlackCab. 

Led by founders Aayushman Sinha, Aayush Bansal, Siddharth Singh and Rishikesh Bhanushali, BlackCab is a digital marketing agency that primarily works across Music & Entertainment, D2C Retail, Lifestyle & Consumer Goods, Personal Branding & Sports.

BlackCab is at a steady growth rate while catering to clients in the US, UK and Singapore.

What’s fuelling BlackCab’s growth across geographies?

A strong inclusive company culture, diverse talent and innovative thinking, Aayush Bansal, Co-founder & Director, BlackCab told People Matters, in a recent interview:

What are key enablers of the creator economy? How does it impact the talent landscape? 

The available ease of distribution of content and the overall democratisation of information are key enablers of the creator economy. 

The digital penetration in Tier 2, Tier 3 and rural India has further broken down even the highest vernacular barriers, allowing for thriving content consumption ecosystems for creators of all types. I would look at this as a positive impact on the talent market as more and more people are familiar with social media trends, platforms and how to leverage them commercially. 

Creative thinking is a 'must have' for all team members at BlackCab and the landscape is encouraging for such talent to develop.

The rise of the creator economy is also a possible threat to a company's overall productivity, as people pursue more side hustles. What's your take? 

Not at all! At BlackCab, we have always been supportive of our team members pursuing what they truly enjoy and aligning with their true calling, as that makes them exceptional performers and contributors to the organisation. 

On this topic, I remember a quote which I truly live by: 'One has 5 creative hours in a day, all I ask for is for them to channel 4 of them towards my organisation.' 

Back in 2017, when we just founded the agency, one of our office helpers, Dinesh,  who would serve us chai and help keep the studio clean, spent his free time on the stairwell, hidden behind an ASUS laptop with utmost focus. 

Curiously we peeked behind one day, to see him editing a film. That week, we decided to give Dinesh a couple of creative assignments from BlackCab as a means to upskill him. Today, he leads BlackCab's motion graphics team and happily pursues his side hustle of making short films. Similarly, we have helped several of our team members shape and explore their passions while they continue to excel at what they bring to BlackCab. It is simply a win-win!

In an industry where knowledge, passion, and creativity have a significant impact on a company's success, how are you ensuring a strong talent pipeline? 

Creative thinking is a 'must have' for all roles at BlackCab. We ensure our team stays at the cutting edge of industry know-how and provide ample opportunities for them to upskill within the workplace. 

Our monthly initiative, CabED, is a workshop format continued education session which brings in industry experts and speakers from various creative pursuits to share their experiences and conduct a hands-on session. 

Once a month, we also provide space for internal upskilling by spotlighting one standout campaign or project from each team's arsenal. This ensures that, in spite of hybrid working, each BlackCab team member is learning from the other and we always strive to be more than just a sum of our parts.

What are the challenges of working with a diverse and dynamic workforce that includes gig and full-time employees? 

We prefer to in-source our work to the most possible extent. Today we have a workforce of more than 60 and are hiring for 30-35 positions in the coming quarter. This comes with its own challenges such as a large fixed cost, but we believe that we can only differentiate our work and deliver quality if it is driven by BlackCab's in-house team. 

We have also fostered strong partnerships with external agencies and freelance talent. 

We share intimate workflows and contracts with them which allows us to take support of a plethora of talent when need be – from sound engineers to food stylists, from fabricators to visual merchandise designers.

How are you becoming an employer of choice and enhancing the experience of employees across the value chain? 

We strive to do this at every level, by ensuring thoughtful workflow building and processes that aren’t cut-copy-paste from the industry. 

Our biggest advantage is that we fostered a culture of virgin thinking, wherein we have not adopted our business model from any other industry. We choose to maintain a healthy balance of employees from within and outside the industry as well, nurturing new and deserving talent with varied skill sets.

At a team size of 15, we founded our 'Organisational Development' department by hiring an Organisational Psychology and Human Resource team. This team is deeply integrated with our operations, employee and culture management unlike in other agencies. 

We started several benefit programs to ensure we provide the best possible work-life experience to our team, including menstruation leaves, continued education and upskilling opportunities, and monthly 'BlackCab Banter' sessions which are non-work-related catch-ups in a casual setting. Half a year ago, we partnered with a counselling services organisation to offer our team of more than 60 unlimited therapy sessions with professional therapists, creating an unbiased and judgment-free safe space within BlackCab.

We conduct frequent support groups to ensure our intra-team dynamic remains healthy and the teams work in cohesion in spite of remote operations. We plan to keep creating value and pushing the envelope of employee experience by co-creating new systems with our team, systems they would like to see in the workplace.

Are you a small business owner or a leader of a fast-growing organisation, and do you have a fascinating story like BlackCab? Reach out to Drishti Pant 

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Topics: Strategic HR, #SMEcorner, #Leaders Talk

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