Work

She Married an Expat and Became a Trailing Spouse But Continued to Ace Her Career

Women often sacrifice stable careers to follow their husbands around the world, but former corporate honcho Preeti Kumar worked out a flexi career that could go with her everywhere.

When Preeti Kumar got married in 2013, she knew her husband had an expat profile. “In the decade preceding our marriage, he had lived in five different countries. This movement was a part of the nature of his work and a part of his identity too,” says the 37-year-old.

Preeti’s profile, however, was very different from his. An MBA by qualification, she had worked in various corporate roles and was by then the chief marketing officer and head of product for Dunkin Donuts in India. It was a tough call to give it all up and become a trailing spouse.

But Preeti decided to embrace this as an opportunity for self-enrichment and to orchestrate her career not merely to survive but thrive in a ‘location agnostic’ setting by up-skilling and re-skilling herself.

Preeti in Shanghai BBQ with friends
 Preeti with her husband Gunjan

The idea was to make the most of current workforce trends: more companies these days are outsourcing and offering flexible contracts to their employees and vendors. “If I could build specialized skills that were easily transferable from one company profile to another, I figured I’d have a good chance of making it work,” says Preeti.

As media consumption and shopping has gone online, the marketing playground has rapidly moved to digital. And yet workers who have both marketing expertise as well as analytical and technical knowledge are rare and in growing demand. So while she was in Hong Kong, Preeti studied digital marketing at General Assembly and followed it up with a design thinking program at Parsons New York.

“Of course, the steepest learning would happen when I started to work on client projects – undoubtedly, the most crucial skillset I have learned so far is how to become a fast learner!” she smiles.

Preeti Kumar and Deepa Kamath
With her former business partner Deepa Kamath

After returning to Hong Kong, Preeti co-founded Amplify Digital with Deepa Kamath, an accomplished user-interface designer. She started to work with entrepreneurs and small companies doing their website maintenance and social-media postings, and even launched a spa and wellness blog and directory. Gradually, she built a client roll with medium-sized companies. “Often, I signed on a project first and figured how to deliver it later!” she says.

In late 2016, Preeti’s husband Gunjan got an opportunity to move to Shanghai. Preeti immediately got a chance to work on digital marketing and innovation projects for top multinational brands and built a fantastic network of collaborators. Her company, Amplify Asia acts as the China CMO for cross-border brands, helping them navigate the China digital-marketing ecosystem.

preeti-kol-marketing-talk-beauty-expo.jpg
Preeti giving a talk on marketing

“Working in China’s digital scene has injected in me the energy and passion for digital and innovation,” says Preeti. “The collaborative and ambitious spirit of the professionals here is something I am very grateful to have experienced.”

Now, it is time for the couple to move again, this time to New York. “I can continue to work with my clients spread across the globe, and I am in touch with possible collaborators in the US even before we have physically moved,” says Preeti.

By pushing the bar and developing an enterprising and ‘giving’ attitude, Preeti has managed to add to her professional journey rather than restart each time. You can too!

First published in the August 2018 issue of eShe magazine

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