An Interview with Sanober Mannan, CEO and Founder of 9 Yards Events
Paradigm shift in the event space.. is our live instagram series where we invite the experts of the events industry to talk about the sudden impact of covid on the event industry. In this series our primary focus is to address the key concerns and queries of students, people and other event managers about the future of the events industry and the shift to virtual events.
On a lovely Tuesday 6pm evening of 18th June 2020, we had Mrs. Sanober Mannan, CEO and founder of 9 Yards Events, join over a hearty conversation with our CEO Arvind Jyot Sabhaney to talk about her journey from a small town girl to managing the ad campaign of big brands to having her own successful events company, about situation of the events industry and its future.
Tell us about your journey.
For Mrs. Sanober Mannan, her journey isn’t one of those rags to riches but definitely is an amazing one. “This is a journey about a girl from a small town having dreams trying to fit in big cities of India” recalls Mrs Sanober.
She was born in a very progressive Muslim familywhere both her parents were working. Her mother was a teacher and then became a principal of a school and her father is still a lawyer. Since they lived in a small town, hence her father decided to enroll her and her brother to a boarding school. “So most part of my childhood and like early part of adulthood has been in boarding schools. This is where I got exposure to different cultures which has helped me throughout”.
After completing her schooling she moved to Bangalore to pursue an MBA. Her decision to pursue an MBA was based on the fact that she was interested in knowing about different brands in the market. “I was always fascinated about big brands, and wanted to know about how big brands have been built over time” Says Mrs. Mannan as she recalls about her passion for brands when she was young.
This fascination about brands made her join the advertising line. She worked with big advertising agencies such as McCann and Bates & Chi. Then her fascination led to knowing more about corporates and this is when she joined big brands such as Titan, Britannia and Tanishq. This is where she worked on so many of their iconic ad campaigns, especially with the brand Tanishq.
But through her journey Mrs. Sannober has been a kind of a person who doesn’t settle on one thing forever. Her passion always makes her challenge herself to newer heights. During 2014, when they were doing a lot of ad campaigns for a lot of startups, the bug of entrepreneurship got onto her.
This is when she and her husband decided to call it quits on their illustrious corporate life, and join the create their own events company, 9 Yards events pvt. Ltd.. Thus this is how Mrs. Sanober put her foot in the events industry thus setting up a new challenge for herself.
Initially at 9 yards, they were into consultation and giving ideas for doing different events. Then slowly their clients asked them to execute these ideas, and this is how they entered into the events industry full time. Since then, everyday has been a new and unique experience along with new learnings for her.
Its been 4 years since the inception of their firm, and by now they are into online content creation such as posts and interactive videos of startups for their social media handle. Its been quite some journey for Mrs. Sanober and her firm.
Has the lockdown been tough on you and your firm?
“I wouldn’t say tough but initially it was quite challenging for us” says Mrs. Sanober. Just like others in the industry, even Mrs. Sanober didn’t know what hit them and what the course of action to be taken for the future.
For her, staying at home was quite an alien concept for her, as she admits this is the longest she has stayed at home since her maternity leave.
But in the positive light, this period has helped her and her company to do a lot of research and to rebuild according to the present situation. Hence, most of the events that they have conducted during the lockdown for their clients are done through virtual.
What kind of events have you done so far?
9 yards have been doing events virtually as Mrs. Sanober said. Recently they did a retirement event where they worked with AVS, presentations and MCs. Apart from that they have done few other events for other consumers and employees which were kind of small events.
Along with events they have been conducting classes and making contents such as digital videos and catalogs for their client’s social media platform. Mrs. Sanober feels that the work they are doing right now is totally different from that of what they did before lockdown “You obviously cannot compare it with what was happening before, but it’s, it’s good.”.
In terms of staff maintenance have you laid anyone off yet?
“We have managed to hold on to our team and haven’t laid any one off. They are all like our family.”
So how long will it be when on ground events become a normal thing?
“Well it’s a very difficult question. I mean all of us are still trying to figure out when, what and how stuff, but one thing I’m certain is that this is not going to be there forever.” says a hopeful Mrs. Sanober who feels things will get back normal within a year.
She believes that at one point everyone will learn how to live with the virus, and adopt all the safety precautions and ways to venture out without having the risk of contracting the virus. Thus many firms and companies will start conducting their events onground to get back to normalcy.
She very much believes that at some point this situation will die down. Maybe not within few months but eventually, and we as a human society will overcome this situation and challenge soon.
Your advice to students who are pursuing or aspiring towards the event industry?
Mrs. Sanober feels that this lockdown time is a fruitful period for the students. Hence, according to her students are not much into any trouble. “Learning never goes in waste, what you learn is always there with you. So use this time to learn more about events.” advices Mrs. Sanober.
According to her, students right now will study for 3 months, 6 months or maybe even a year, and once they graduate the world would be open and back to normal, thus there will be new and ample opportunities for these youngsters to grab on to.
As per the young event managers who have just entered the industry she advises that they take this time to reboot and revamp their companies. “Managers just sit back and relax now, because tomorrow when you’re back in your field there is no, you know, sleeping all day, all night. You are, again, back to your sleepless nights and performing all day. So this is the time to just sit back, relax and rejuvenate”.