My name is Zareen Yusuf Shaikh. I am a leading digital marketing consultant, trainer, and strategist based in Mumbai with a decade-long experience in the world of digital marketing and communication. Let me tell you where my journey began… a journey that started out more than 11 years ago and made me into the person I am today.
My First Step to Forever...
My interest in digital marketing began after I passed my SSC exams in 2007 and joined a professional course for MS-Office. The institute had invited an expert named Aquib to conduct a seminar on digital marketing. As is the case with many educational institutes, they forced students to attend so they could show a full auditorium to impress the guest – a grand display of appreciation.
Now, I don’t know whether he was impressed with the crowd or not, but I certainly was impressed with his lecture. In fact, I registered my name for his course, only to discover that I was the sole student in the entire auditorium to apply, which is why he decided not to conduct it. I was surely disappointed, but I was also determined. Those were the days of 2G Internet, rise of the digital, and the emergence of social media. It was an entirely new world, and that one single lecture gave me a new path to explore. And I did just that, I explored and I learned.
The Foundation Years...
After I finished my HSC exams in 2009, I began my first Facebook page. Admit it, you must’ve done it too. I named it ‘Life is beautiful and I am a programmer and I don’t have life.’ To me, it was not just a fun personal project, but also a way to experiment with the platform.
I continued my experimentation with social media and digital platforms. As the online world expanded, I tried to expand my reach as well – onto different platforms, major ones as well as minor ones. There was some major self-learning involved, and strategizing and implementation. I had created my own brand back then.
As I did my Bachelor of Computer Application (BCA), I also began teaching as a part-time academic faculty at Plus Institute from 2011. I was a student from 7 am to 1 pm, and a trainer from 2 pm to 9 pm. God! Those were some tough years, but some of the most fun. I was involved in teaching Photoshop, CorelDraw, PageMaker, as well as MS-Office at the institute. A lot to learn and a lot to teach…
This was the start of my career as a professional trainer, which remains my passion to this day, along with, of course, digital marketing.
One of my biggest achievements during this phase was earning Best Student All-Rounder Award in my third year in 2013. There’s pride attached to it – all your efforts start bearing fruits. And I had only just begun…
New Opportunities and A Lot of Growth...
Fresh out of college in 2013, I stepped into the real world. I had dreams and I had aspirations, but most importantly, I had the will to work for them. After graduation, I received placement offers from Nokia and Cognizant. I chose Nokia because of two reasons: One, that it was close to my home; and Two, because the work timings allowed me to continue my teaching stint at Plus Institute. I started my job as an Associate Geographic Tech at Nokia’s Here Maps. It was an 8-hour job that began early morning, with a monthly pay of ₹18000/-. I was at Nokia from 6:45 am to 3 pm, and then at Plus Institute from 5 pm to 9 pm.
Within a year, passion came calling and I left my well-paying job (for that time), and joined RS Vigyapan as a digital marketing intern for a meagre amount of ₹5000/-. Sometimes, doing what you love and what you are passionate about matters more than money. It was a drastic step, but I took it for myself and I absolutely do not regret it at all. I also continued my stint as a faculty at Plus Institute this whole time.
I also began working as an independent freelancer in 2014, acquiring my first ever client, R Solutions. Later, I took up another client, Munir Khan, who is still in business with me till today. Resolved to keep working on my skills and improve my knowledge, I attended and conducted online training, knowledge-sharing, and networking sessions over Skype. I also acquired HiCare as a client during this phase. My trajectory of growth with HiCare was phenomenal. My first invoice with them was for ₹5000/- and over the next three years, the invoice amount grew to ₹50,000/-, and we went from handling one to all four of their service segments.
DigiMarketerz – A Leading Digital Marketing Agency....
It was during 2013 that I laid down the foundation of my brainchild, a successful digital marketing agency called ‘DigiMarketerz’, along with Salman Hashmi, Pawan Negi, and two students from Plus Institute who joined as interns. This marked a huge step in my life, and a leap towards a successful entrepreneurship. A dream come true, you can say.
DigiMarketerz was born out of our combined love and passion for digital marketing, and to cater to the growing demand for online marketing services. Since then, we have grown a lot. The journey has been tumultuous, as is the case with most start-ups. But we’ve stood strong and grown steadily, now boasting of a team of 15 people, and more than 200 clients spread across the globe.
Personally, I take care of business development, resource management, client servicing, monitoring, as well as strategy making. It’s tedious, but it’s so worth it! It’s like watching your own child grow.A lot of people believe that working in the media industry is just glitz and glamour and requires tons of luck. I say that the work involves a lot of sweat and labour. Not luck, but it was a decade of pure hard work, efforts, and dedication, that allowed me to reach here. With a digital marketing agency, there’s lots of long hours, crazy stress levels, and little financial returns in the start, but with hard work, patience, and determinations, which are three qualities you definitely need to possess, success will be at your feet before you know it!
With DigiMarketerz, our sole focus was to provide the best possible service and the best value to all our clients, and thus, our clients have been with us since the very beginning, and most of our new clients are through direct referrals.
Trainer by Passion...
Learning, researching, teaching, and training is something that I will never stop doing. It is my passion – what I do out of love. I believe that, in the end, life’s ultimate goal is to learn from others and letting them learn from you. We’re all living different experiences, and sharing the knowledge that we have is the best way to grow in life.
After the commencement of my professional training career at Plus Institute, I joined R Solutions Pvt Ltd as an SAP trainer, working 8 hours each on Saturday and Sunday. My experience at R Solutions from 2014 to 2018 was truly a life-changing one, and allowed me to gain more confidence to speak in front of a large crowd of people. Now, I have had the pleasure to teach more than 5000 students so far.
I continued learning, as I continued teaching. I enrolled myself for an MBA in 2015. I wanted to get a Masters’ degree, which would serve as a stepping stone in my career, towards acquiring a PhD to my name. That is a dream that I am working for. Along with my MBA studies, I was also working as a Digital Marketing Executive at Alfa Overseas, continuing my training as well as digital marketing career.
In 2015, I established the Institute of Digital Media Marketing with a partner. We established an office, marketed, and even conducted 2 batches full of students.
The partner, unfortunately, had to leave, and thus, the venture had to be shut down. My next venture was YourMentorz in the same year, under which we still conduct educational and informative seminars, sessions, lectures, and workshops for students who want to learn digital marketing, soft skills, entrepreneurship building, and technical education.
I was also involved as an SAP trainer at Thakur Polytechnic, and owing to my success with digital marketing, the institute extended my duties and appointed me as a digital marketing trainer as well. Under YourMentorz, I signed a three years MoU with Thakur Polytechnic for providing digital marketing training to students. This marked my venture into digital marketing training, along with SAP training and agency entrepreneurship career. After conducting training for Mechanical and Civil Engineering students for three years, I also received the honour of being invited as a Chief Guest at A. G. Patil Institute of Technology in Solapur.
2018 marked yet another huge achievement in my life, as the online magazine ‘Social Samosa’ nominated me in their ‘Under 40 Top 40’ list of entrepreneurs, giving a huge boost to my confidence and determination.
Some of my other teaching and training stints include my work as a digital marketing trainer at TimesPro since June 2018, my position as a visiting professor at SVIMS B-School since February 2019, and as a Digital Marketing Program Coordinator at ITAA since October 2019. I am also involved with Freelancer Academy since August 2019.
With training, I am able to give more and learn more. I’ve been asked a question multiple times, whether I get bored of teaching the same thing every day.
Honestly, I don’t. The topic might be the same to me, but for them, it’s a new world to discover, like it was once for me. And they’re all new faces for me too, with new curiosities and new questions. It is my passion. And when they ask me, where do I find so much time to do all of this? I only have one answer. We are all given 24 hours in a day, and with the right amount of passion, you can do anything. Find your passion, find your voice. When you start doing what you love, you will not stop either.
Get in Touch
If you’re interesting to know more about me and would like to discuss partnerships, collaborations, services, or working with me, get in touch now!