The Little Yellow Book is a series of short interviews with different members of the Landor team. You can find out more about who they are, what they do, and what inspires and motivates them to do what they do.
Manil Dodani, Senior Business Development and Marketing Manager, Strategist
Manil doubles up as our Senior Business Development and Marketing Manager and Strategist. Manil is passionate about brands and technology and has worked with B2B and B2C companies across industries. Digital-first brands excite him the most, especially the power to create disproportionate impact with brand experience through storytelling and emerging tech. He strongly believes in the power of branding and design to drive tangible business results and solve real problems. Some of his clients include Tata Digital, Tata CliQ, Mahindra Electric, Tata Consumer Products, Lentra, Corporate Gurukul, and Y-Axis amongst others.
Interview conducted by Ronita Mukerjee, Executive Director, Client Services
1. Tell us about yourself
I am a half Sindhi, half Punjabi, true blue Bombay boy. I finished my schooling at Podar International School, then on to graduate in Management Studies specializing in Finance from Jai Hind College, where I was the Valedictorian. I got my Master’s Degree from Jai Hind as well, specializing in Accounting and Finance. I have had a natural inclination towards tech since a very young age, I can code in more languages than I can speak (four!). I’m an aviation enthusiast and spend many hours on flight simulators and aerial warfare games.
I love traveling and cannot live without my mother’s homemade butter chicken, dal makhani, and naan.
2. Why did you apply to Landor?
I applied because I had fallen in love with Landor, to be honest.
I first discovered Landor when a friend invited me to a workshop on ‘Branding for Startups’ by the Creative Director at Landor Mumbai. The workshop turned out to be unlike anything I’d attended before. Inspiring, insightful, and power-packed! I came back home wondering that if 45 minutes could leave me so inspired and energized, what working at Landor would be like? The next few days were spent researching, discovering the legend of Walter Landor, and all the fabulous work Landor did, and watching episodes of UTV Beyond Logo a series on branding featuring the inimitable Lulu Raghavan, Managing Director, Landor India.
Trust me, once you’re done immersing into what Landor is all about, it’s difficult to not be impressed or more curious than when you started, or both.
The one thing that spurred me into action was a sentence on the Landor careers page, “You’ll see your work in the world – every day.”
3. What were your initial days at Landor? Any advice for new joiners?
Unforgettable. I was thrown into what’s called the “deep end” at Landor. There was no day when there wasn’t a challenge. Screening new names for a large IT company, brainstorming on new packaging design for Sri Lanka’s oldest Ayurvedic brand, or crunching data for a new business pitch, days flashed by like minutes.
Until this time, I’d only heard about Lulu but never worked with her. My first pitch at Landor was for rebranding the National Stock Exchange (which we won) and in the days preparing for the pitch with Lulu, my learning curve was exponential. Attention for detail, impactful storytelling, and creating a narrative arc on a pitch deck are all things I have learned being mentored and groomed by her during my initial days (and continue to be!).
My advice for new joiners at Landor: Be a sponge and learn from everyone. Try and listen carefully to feedback, during work sessions with the team, and client conversations and you’ll learn things that’ll help you as you advance through your career and life. Immerse into the Landor Archives and University – they really are a treasure trove of insights that others would kill to have. Great ideas aren’t born between 9 to 5, so be persistent and strive to go above and beyond. We don’t do anything by half measures – whether it’s a client presentation or a party!
4. What do you enjoy the most about your work?
I often say I have the most interesting job in the world. That’s because Landor is ever so welcoming to the ‘new’. New brands, new techniques, new people, and extraordinary new thinking. There’s never been a dull day in my 3 years at Landor. There’s always a challenge waiting to be solved.
But, what I enjoy the most is the process and the way Landor works and approaches a problem. The way we unpack it, immerse in it, collaborating with people within and beyond Landor to get closer to solving it and then finally cracking the answer, it’s the highest high there is. Whether it’s pitching, strategy, or naming everything has a process, and the more you use it, the sharper you become at cutting the next problem – just like a cardiac surgeon.
5. What keeps you motivated at work?
This burning desire to win and a culture that sets you up to succeed. Landor is a culture that works to get you closer to what you want. Travel, exposure to an international office, working with people all across the world, it’s all happened to me in 3 years! I’ve seen the Singapore, New York, and London offices, traveled to countless cities in India and worked with so many great people – it keeps me going and excited about what’s to come!
6. What is your proudest accomplishment in the three years at Landor?
Building and deploying the Hold – a search engine that categorizes and helps Landorians all over the world retrieve case studies, proposals, and assets in seconds. I built it as part of the 10% program at Landor where employees are given 10% of their time each week to learn new skills and things that interest them. I used my time to learn some advanced coding and applied it to a problem that haunted me every day – getting new cases and credentials from the network every time we had a pitch. 26 offices in 19 countries and 77 years of work doesn’t make it easy!
For 6 months I worked on the Hold every week as a product manager, developer, web designer, beta tester, internal launch ambassador, and more. A process I’ll never forget for the rest of my life.
I had the opportunity to present the first stable version of the Hold in New York at Landor’s Global New Business Summit.
A few months later, I won Landor’s Global ‘Above and Beyond’ Award and $10,000 for building The Hold chosen from 150+ nominations across the network.
7. What are you currently obsessing over?
The business applications of Game theory and a popular courtroom drama, Boston Legal.
8. What do you do when you lose a pitch? (It happens to the best of us!)
Seek client feedback and make copious notes for next time, watch Rocky, make myself the biggest cup of chai.
9. What do you like to do outside of work?
I love learning about emerging technologies, reading (special love for whodunits, history, and strategy books), and taking long walks in the quiet lanes of Bandra. I’m an avid cinemagoer so catching the latest flick is definitely one of my favorite things to do.
10. Any advice for people who want to join the brand and design industry?
Don’t be afraid to hear the word “no”. It’s easy to be disheartened when you hear not-so-good things about your work. But we’re in a business that relies on logical input to create output that is consumed subjectively. Absorb the feedback, improve, and move. There’ll be no stopping you once you can make the distinction between yourself and your work. You are not your work.
Rapid Fire with Manil
- New Business or Strategy
Strategy! You can’t win new business without strategy!
- Excel sheets or Powerpoint
PowerPoint, every day.
- London or New York
- Wealth or legacy (You can’t combine the two!)
- A power suit or a denim
A power suit
- A home scene or Soho House
- Home food or take out
Home food cooked by my mother every single time.
- Sleep or Exercise
- WFH or WFO
WFO – please take me back to our beautiful office!
- Cats or Dogs