Newhouse Outsiders: Babs Rangaiah – Cognitive Marketing At IBM iX

Newhouse Outsiders: Babs Rangaiah – Cognitive Marketing At IBM iX

Not all guest speakers at Newhouse necessarily have to have attended Syracuse University, as gaining perspective from a Newhouse Outsider holds great value in such a diverse media landscape. Babs Rangaiah, an Executive Partner of Global Marketing at IBM iX, is a leader in the industry of cognitive marketing experiences and he visited Syracuse in the middle of October for parent’s weekend, as he has a daughter enrolled at Newhouse. Deciding to kill two birds with one stone, Rangaiah also gave a slew of guest lectures in Professor Sean Branagan’s entrepreneurship classes, briefly spoke in Professor Larry Elin’s Industry Forces course while he visited Syracuse, and gave tons of insight as to how Newhouse students should approach careers in media.

“It’s a great time to be entering the media/marketing business, as entire aspects of the industry are being disrupted due to technology,” Rangaiah told me in an online interview. “As students entering the business, you will be able to lead and help write the rules.”

In his guest lectures, Rangaiah discussed a plethora of ranging topics in rising trends involving media. He urged the importance of blockchain technology and how it will disrupt the transaction industry much like how the internet completely changed communication technology. Also, he noted how the internet has made old media such as TV obsolete, and that TV revenue has been on the decline and doesn’t seem to be returning anytime soon. Clearly, there is great value in looking towards the future in media technology.

“It’s important to pay attention to what is going on [in the industry],” Rangaiah affirmed. “Always try to stay one step ahead; foresight will go a long way to helping you lead. As long your persistence is stronger than others’ resistance, you will win.”

Rangaiah had many years to prove himself before joining IBM iX in 2016. Before starting his career at IBM, he was the Vice President of Global Communications Planning & Digital Innovation at Unilever, a consumer goods company based in London. He has led many different teams making unique impacts in digital marketing, and his refined skill set has allowed him to flex his creative muscles within the companies he works for. He mentioned to me how the early years of working at big companies like IBM will typically involve training and learning, as gaining intrapreneurial opportunities comes with experience. He even gave me some advice my mother would love me to take wholeheartedly:

“I would suggest for your first job to get some fundamental learning, so you have a base to work off in entrepreneurship,” Rangaiah said. “You can then use those fundamentals and shape them for your particular skill sets or a startup later. This advice is not as critical as when I was your age, as you can see guys like Mark Zuckerberg. But for most people, I think it’s still the best way to go.”

In entrepreneurship, uncertainty will forever be a factor one can never control. My mother is worried I will not be able to pay my own bills after I graduate, and wants me to pursue the more traditional route of having a well-paying job lined up for myself once I’m done at Newhouse. After all, my mother has worked her entire life to put me in such a fortunate position, so I owe her my genuine compliance to her thoughts. Although I understand her concerns and truly take them into consideration as I navigate through this one-year Master’s program, I have learned in my entrepreneurship classes at that uncertainty should not scare you away from the field, as grabbing uncertainty by the horns and reacting accordingly to it is key to finding success. In chapter 15 of Effectual Entrepreneurship, authored by Stuart Read, Saras Sarasvathy, Nick Dew, Robert Wiltbank, and Anne-Valérie Ohlsson (a book I recommend for any entrepreneurs out there), it says that “the unexpected is not a cost to a new venture; instead, it is a resource that may be turned into something valuable in entrepreneurial hands” (p. 141). Because I want to innovate in multimedia content creation, the communication technologies emerging in today’s market are constantly changing and updating, so there will be plenty of uncertainty. Rather than viewing this as a hinderance, it instead motivates me to look onto the horizon of what types of media technologies will take precedence moving forward.

Overall, Rangaiah provided great advice and a sense of direction for me to take moving forward in my journey at Newhouse. He opened my eyes to the innovative work IBM is working on, proving that it is a company that pays close attention to emerging trends in today’s digital age. IBM has a Consultant by Degree position that strikes a chord for me, as the title’s 18-month training program is unparalleled in the consulting world. Hopefully if I were able to find myself in a position like this, I would have the opportunity to one day help lead the next generation of media innovation.

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Tobenna Attah
Transmedia Entrepreneur
Tobe V. Attah is a multimedia entrepreneur with a mission to innovate in today’s new media landscape while making a meaningful impact in the world. He founded Doodle the News in October 2017, a mutliplatform hub for people to have their voices heard and help them become more civic minded through bite-sized journalism.
He has been published across a wide variety of media outlets, including Sports Illustrated, the Cornell Daily Sun, SportTechie, Clutchpoints, Cavs Nation, the Cornell Chronicle, and many more.
Tobe has a plethora of hobbies, including writing, athletics, drawing, acting, and collaborating with others about ideas and startups working in the multimedia space.

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