Trust & communication key in banking sector: Subhayu Mishra, Standard Chartered

Subhayu Mishra, MD & Head of Corporate Affairs, Standard Chartered Bank (India) on his journey in the corporate communication industry, key drivers of the sector and fighting slowdown

e4m by Nafisa Shaheen
Updated: Dec 4, 2019 11:16 AM
Subhayu Mishra

Subhayu Mishra, MD & Head of Corporate Affairs, Standard Chartered Bank (India), drives corporate communications, employee engagement, sustainability, media & community sponsorship, industry/trade engagements, and thought leadership initiatives for the bank in India.

He has over 23 years of experience in driving brand and marketing, communications and CSR for leading Indian and multinational brands in banking, capital markets, and financial services.

Across his career, he has led large media initiatives for build-out/transition of brands, business and products, and set up globally benchmarked message house, documentation and process controls. He is experienced in cross leveraging communications, Sustainability and digital platforms. 

In an interaction, Mishra talks about on his journey in the corporate communication industry, key drivers of the industry and a fighting slowdown in the industry.

Edited excerpts:

How has your journey in corporate communications been?

It has been exciting, uncertain, crazy, challenging, and above all a fulfilling ride.  

I started my career when most organisations didn’t even have a dedicated resource, let alone teams to drive communication, reputation, and engagement. I had the opportunity to design and build out communication in the initial/take-off stages of the organisations I’ve worked for. Given the expansion stage I have worked through in multiple organisations, things have been quite fluid with stretched targets and short timelines. Grooming talent which was in short supply was another enriching experience; some of them head the function in reputed corporates now.

The insight into the brand, reputation and the organisational belief and narrative one has got through this journey is actually quite humbling.

 What are the key drivers of the corp comm industry in today's scenario?

The industry is way more evolved and differentiated than what it was a couple of decades back.  However, it faces new challenges and opportunities given the current dynamics:  

First, what next for the agency/communication leader after being a trusted aide for years? The opportunity to be a strategic advisor to the business is huge given the access to information and intelligence and that’s a clear expectation from stakeholders.

Second is about how to build a perceptibly different/differentiated digital narrative for the brand – from technology to positioning this calls for skills, blue-sky thinking and different tone and voice of the narrative.

The third is the client-agency value chain where clients have refreshed expectations: on the digital narrative, reputation management, and ideation in internal communication and engagement

Lastly, it is the convergence of communication – internal and external; CSR and Sustainability; and its alignment to culture and beliefs. This is really a fundamental area of work which we should be seeing more of.

How do you see the changing landscape of the communications agency with integrated industries blooming up?

The jury will always be out on ‘integrated vs specialised’ because historically client experience of pooling all under one communication agency hasn’t been remarkable. But there is a good reason to eventually evolve towards it because otherwise, it might be difficult for organisations to find the bandwidth to engage separately and connect the dots. Having multiple agencies for different communication/engagement needs isn’t the most efficient way to create a convergent singular narrative. However, more than the number of integrated agencies, it is the quality of people that will differentiate the more successful ones; how much agencies invest in training and skilling their people will determine the service quality they deliver and reflect in their performance over the longer run.

How important is communication in the banking sector?

Banking which is largely built on trust and communication is perhaps more important in this industry than anywhere else. The frequency, urgency and sensitivity of communication are crucial to reputation building and sustenance. But like for every other industry, communication is successful when it’s credible, which is what your clients, communities, and all stakeholders are actually holding you up to. It’s just no longer limited to what you do in your line of business but also what’s your organisational ethos, how you treat your people, how you live what you say. So it is only through a successful triangulation of culture, conduct, and communication that one can build and sustain reputation and equity. 

How instrumental is corporate communication in fighting against the slowdown in the industry?

More than ‘fighting’ my personal view is that it has been a slow and steady approach. On the external front, it has been about providing clarity on issues, countering perceptions through facts and figures, providing clients with regular information in a transparent manner, and never failing to draw attention to the positives. On the internal front, closer engagement with the leadership, messaging not just on performance and business but also on culture, conduct, highlighting the good work organizations do in their communities and markets, building a sense of ownership and pride have proved effective. However, an impactful narrative needs to pass through the twin lens of being inspiring and credible.

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