Features

How I got here… Bloomberg’s Parry Ravindranathan

In our new feature exploring career trajectories, Parry Ravindranathan, the Hong Kong-based international managing director of Bloomberg Media Group, relays his journey from conflict reporting, to newsroom digitisation and tackling fake news

Education

Though I was born in India – Kerala to be more specific – I grew up in Oman before attending India’s best-known boarding school, Mayo College, from the age of nine. After that, I went on to study at Christ College, the Asian College of Journalism in India and the University of Westminster in the UK. I was then offered to do an MPhil/Phd in Economic History but a media career came knocking and I grabbed it. It’s fair to say I was given a very broad education in many places! They’ve each influenced my career decisions and brought me to where I am today.

My start

For the first nine years of my career, I worked at CNN, CNBC-TV18 and Al Jazeera. I started at the bottom and worked my way up. It was an exciting time, because those were the early days of television news, especially in India and we were breaking new ground every day and learning every single day. But for anyone who grew too fast, too young, I felt I had skill gaps. I was really looking to become a better producer, so I went to help set up Al Jazeera English, where I travelled a lot in conflict zones, producing and working with some great people. It taught me a lot as a human being and how to become a better manager. It was a high-stakes, high-pressure environment and it ultimately helped me handle pressure and take responsibility. Today, I approach the job with nothing to lose.

Approach

In my role, you have to be very passionate about what you do, but most importantly understand what your audience wants. I’m first and foremost a content guy who thinks of the business, not the other way around. And I think this is an important distinction. I believe if you don’t understand, consume and love the content, you can’t get the pulse of the business. In the business of media, there are too few content people at the top and you need that for the industry to grow and flourish.  Here, we are in the midst of doing something truly innovative and exciting with Twitter and we are also experimenting with messaging apps and technologies of tomorrow like virtual reality and augmented reality. The media landscape is continuously evolving. Traditional business models are being challenged and we look at it as an opportunity to innovate and capture our audience.

Highs and/or lows

For me, a recent personal high was to launch a co-branded business and finance journalism programme at my alma-mater, the Asian College of Journalism. It’s one of India’s top journalism schools and we worked closely with them to design a first-of-its-kind programme for up and coming journalists. The pace of change in journalism is immense and we wanted to be part of a programme that can help future-proof newsroom skills.

These days, our industry the world over is being tackled by fake news, censorship, social media trolling and a genuine lack of trust. This also comes at a time when business models are being challenged. Never has fact-based, objective journalism been so important. So I really feel this course comes at the time when the industry needs it the most.

Dos and don’ts

Do: be disruptive
Be curious: you will never be good at what you do if you aren’t.
Be passionate or you won’t succeed.
Challenge the status quo
Treat everyone with respect. Someone once told me talent will take you only so far – but good behaviour will take you a little further.
Always hire people better than you.

Don’t: stop growing and learning
Fear failure – this is what you learn the most from.
Stop taking risks
Become comfortable – it ends careers.
Work in a silo – you are always only part of a team.

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