Zeeshan Sharfi, CEO – Digitz speaks to team Brands Magazine and FHM Pakistan on the changing perspectives and dynamics of the rapidly growing digital media.
BM: Tell us about your educational background and professional experience. How did you conceive the idea of starting your own digital agency?
ZS: After graduation in Computer Science, I started my career in 2003 from a Microsoft development partner agency but wasn’t satisfied with the software routine job and wanted to do something on my own – more creative and innovative where I can push my limits and raise bar. I started my business in 2006; setup small tech/creative shop and initially got some website/software projects. After 3 months I got an opportunity to pitch P&G for website project of Commander Safeguard, where the requirements were to develop content platform and assets. I won the project and become the digital project consultant for P&G, responsible to setup brands websites and intranet portal.
BM: What challenges did you face to maintain your presence during the initial stages of digital media?
ZS: It was the start of a digital era, as the medium was in its initial stages and people didn’t know much about the medium. So the big challenge was to educate clients and highlight the importance of digital medium as there was no digital media budget. Finding digital resource was another challenge, I took the inspiration from the global interactive agencies that were already working on digital front. I also did digital training program for clients. In order to learn more about the mentioned, I took different courses and learnt how to employ effective strategies to send the message to mass audiences.
BM: How do you motivate your team and what style do you adopt in order to keep them together?
ZS: The style I really adopt is to authorize my personnel with certain responsibilities and give them the freedom to work however they want. I give them motivation and trainings and whoever understands my style of work stays along and improves in ranks. I am not one of those CEOs who find pride in taking all the credit. Instead, I want to delegate authority and empower my team. As far as motivation is concerned, I regularly organize training sessions with all my employees and give them the freedom to discuss strategies and tactics to be employed in the business, the way they want.
BM: Where do you see the digital media of Pakistan? Do you think we have met the international standards?
ZS: No, we haven’t met the international standards yet, but we are not too far from reaching that goal. It has only been six years since the digital industry started booming in Pakistan and it will take nearly the same time to maintain its foothold and strong position in the market. The reason behind this gradual yet steady pace is that Pakistani population needs time to understand the growth of the digital sector. Therefore, as people are becoming aware of the importance of digital, it will soon reach the level of international standards in Pakistan.
BM: How would you describe your business growth in terms of clients you have garnered?
ZS: In the last one year Digitz has grown at a steady pace, in terms of head count, Revenues and Campaign portfolio. Our team strength has grown by almost 15% and we have successfully acquired new clients as well as grew current global clients.
We now have a very diversified portfolio which includes; Coca Cola, GSK Consumer, P&G, Zong, UBL, Toyota, Interwood, National Foods, Gul Ahmed, Dalda, Brighto Paints, and Haier.
BM: What are your major achievements and contributions to the digital industry so far?
ZS: We are an award winning agency who won PMAA: Dragons of Asia last year, and AOY – Campaign Asia 2016 this year. Digitz takes pride in the initiatives taken by its teams to help the digital media industry in Pakistan evolve. For the past one year, Digitz’s strategy and research team works on collecting insights, trends and the happenings of social and digital media and share it with clients, competition and industry professionals. We have also organized customized training programs for different brands and clients, with creating alliance with Google and Facebook.
BM: How has Digitz worked in giving back to the society?
ZS: Digitz is an active member of the society and we work with several different NGO’s pro bono in terms of raising awareness. We helped run many campaigns for LRBT to raise its awareness in and outside of Pakistan and helped raise donations. We also worked with Deaf Reach last year on different campaigns. Currently, we are working on creating Coke Studio songs content in Pakistan Sign Language.
“I AM NOT ONE OF THOSE CEO’S WHO FIND PRIDE IN TAKING ALL THE CREDITS”