From chef to CEO- life of Suresh Babu

Suresh Babu, founder of the Web Marketing Academy, talks about the importance of digital marketing

Published - December 29, 2017 10:27 am IST

Suresh Babu (43), was brought up in a middle-class family in Ooty, studied hotel management at RVS College, Sulur, became a lecturer and then joined a cruise company as a chef on board a ship in 1999, where he had to feed 2000 passengers and 1000 crew members. While the job was interesting, it meant staying at sea for 10 months of the year.

After three years at sea, Babu decided he wanted to explore a job related to the Internet. He thought it had great potential. He worked part time for a friend who owned a web-designing company and, to make ends meet, also worked in a hotel and as a cashier in a gas station. During this time, Babu got hooked on to online marketing (and introduced it as a new service wing of the web designing company he was working for. Eventually he created a community called Online Marketing Enthusiasts (OME) who meet regularly and discuss Digital Marketing.

Recollecting the first meeting, Babu says, “I did not expect more than 10-15 people to turn up. The Phanindra Sama, CEO of Redbus offered us the use his office for the event. But, to my amazement, we received more than 70 applications. We had to change the venue and that was the start of OME.”

The objective of the OME community is simple: to share knowledge and to network. There is a community event almost every month, where updates on the industry are discussed. Experts are invited to speak and any online marketing enthusiasts can walk in to learn something new. “It is a community, where the members range from marketing students to CEOs of companies, this brings in diverse ideas and also provides a great platform for beginners.” Babu says that, in 10 years, the community has grown to 15,000 members.

Seeing the huge response, Babu decided to start an academy to teach Digital Marketing in Bengaluru. He quit his job and started the Web Marketing Academy. “There were no students in the first six months and it was a struggle to survive,” says Babu, but he stuck on and now the academy has 1,500 alumni.

The academy is open to any past student who can walk in discuss, learn or seek career assistance. “One can learn a lot from each other. Fifty per cent of the learning happens in a classroom, but the rest happens outside,” he says. Babu also has training programmes for college students, professors and entrepreneurs. He has facilitated the process of making Digital Marketing a part of the curriculum in colleges in Bengaluru and Coimbatore. For wider reach, he runs a podcast ‘Digital India’, which shares digital marketing updates and discussions on the hot topics of the industry.

He live broadcasts the classes in his academy, especially the lectures of visiting industry experts. “Anyone is welcome to partake of the content. There is no point in holding back knowledge and information in a dynamic industry like Digital Marketing. My idea is to share with more people in a short time,” says Babu. His mission, he declares, is to expand the OME community, reach out to colleges and make Digital Marketing an integral part of the Marketing Curriculum.

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