Amol Telang - Force-Fitting a Solution Never Works and Is Only Going to Leave You With a Disgruntled Client (Charted Accountant & Business Consultant)

Amol Telang

As a business consultant, my primary objective is to solve business problems that my clients come to me with and help them work more efficiently for them to achieve their business objectives. While solving problems is something that I absolutely love to do, you really can’t be a good business consultant unless you understand the problem. 

1. How did you choose consultancy to be your career choice?

I started my career when I was 18 as an Intern at EY. This was supposed to be a three-year stint as a part of the Chartered Accountancy curriculum, where we are required to complete articles to get practical knowledge over and above what we were studying as a part of the course. 

Most CA students generally end up taking up statutory audit or taxation and unfortunately, both these streams didn’t seem very interesting to me. At EY, I got the opportunity to intern as a Business Consultant, where I spend time with clients, understanding their processes in detail, identifying improvement opportunities, and solving business problems. This was something that excited me at 18 and continues to excite me 11 years later as well!

2. Being a chartered accountant by profession, how did you transition into consultancy in the media and entertainment business?

I took the decision to pursue Chartered Accountancy while still in school, thanks to a couple of relatives and family friends who I looked up to and were incidentally, Chartered Accountants themselves. I loved math, and numbers in general which made the decision even clearer in my mind. I started my career as a CA intern in EY’s Business Consulting practice and the opportunity to solve business problems that my client faced was a big draw. 

However, I worked on my first Media & Entertainment client only three years later and the industry itself completely fascinated me. This industry was so dynamic and different from anything else that I had experienced earlier, and its quirks were something that has kept me hooked ever since!

3. What are your biggest takeaways from your experience as a business consultant?

As a business consultant, my primary objective is to solve business problems that my clients come to me with and help them work more efficiently for them to achieve their business objectives. While solving problems is something that I absolutely love to do, you really can’t be a good business consultant unless you understand the problem. 

Force-fitting a solution never works and is only going to leave you with a disgruntled client. From all my successful projects and client relationships that I have built as a business consultant, I have one critical takeaway to share: Listen more than you speak!

More often than not, we tend to be in a hurry to solve the problem without understanding it completely. It’s also likely that the actual problem statement is entirely different from what the client is telling you. It is imperative to listen intently, ask the right questions and dig deep to define the problem that the client wants you to address. It’s only when you understand the problem that you will be able to find a solution for it.

4. How has your experience of being associated with content producers and media houses impacted your perception of the entertainment industry?

As an outsider to the Media & Entertainment industry, it’s very easy to get carried away with the glitz and glamour of it all, especially with the larger-than-life personas of the celebrities that we adore and sometimes even worship. It’s only when you’re on the inside that you begin to understand and truly appreciate the effort behind it all. 

I have learned so much working and interacting with the brains that run the industry. The people, resources, and technology that go into running a television channel or producing a movie or conducting a live event or shooting a high-budget web series, coupled with government laws and regulations, metrics to be monitored, budgets to be approved, targets to achieve – it’s a pleasure to understand what actually goes on behind the scenes.

The business of Media & Entertainment fascinates me and I knew there would be several others who would love to understand exactly how the industry works. In order to share interesting insights, share my knowledge, and educate these inquisitive minds, I started my WhatsApp newsletter, METhinks, where I share one interesting insight on the Media & Entertainment industry daily.

5. Having witnessed the intricacies of content production, what fascinates you the most about today’s entertainment industry? 

The thing that fascinates me the most about the Media & Entertainment industry is the rate at which it adopts technology and moves forward at a relentless pace. The concept of esports and gaming which didn’t exist until a few years ago has taken the entire world by storm with start-ups in the space garnering dizzying valuations. 

Earlier, you had to watch content on television at a fixed time whenever your favorite show was broadcast. Today, you could watch the latest show on your phone whenever you feel like it, without annoying ads disrupting the experience. With theatres shut due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people have even warmed up to the concept of watching movies at home.

The biggest change in content creation though is how apps and platforms have empowered individuals across the globe to create their content with just their phones, a far cry from the high-tech cameras and editing suites that professionals use. Short video apps have helped discover talent and have users hooked onto them for hours together. With such massive changes in how content is produced and consumed, who knows what’s in store five years from today?

6. What according to you is the contrast between Indian and global media production?

I could probably write a long-form article comparing and contrasting Indian and global media production. There’s so much to talk about – scale, crew size, budgets, strategies, content regulations, production technology, and the list can go on. Globally, content production is much more organized, involves higher budgets, and uses high-end, expensive technology. 

While Indian production values have improved significantly, especially with high-budget web series, they still fall short of the large-scale, franchise-based sci-fi movies that Hollywood churns out.

The one major aspect that differentiates the Indian audience from any other country is the vast diversity of people in terms of region and language. The Indian audience comprises of people that are comfortable only in their specific native languages and prefer watching content not just in that language but also on themes that are relevant to that particular region and their customs and traditions. 

Moreover, television and internet penetration is still low, which means more such people will end up consuming a massive amount of content in the near future, as internet and mobile connectivity improve. Producing content that is one-size-fits-all doesn’t work in a diverse country like India.

7. What are your favorite books? Why?

I’ll be very honest – I don’t read a lot of books and that’s something that I would like to change. I have had some success now and have managed to read a few books over the last year. I generally prefer reading non-fiction and my favorite among the ones I read recently is The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel.

I generally read on my Kindle and highlight stuff that I find interesting or would want to recall later. This was one book where I have highlighted almost the entire book – it’s that good! Most of the examples and insights in this absolutely blew my mind. The book stays true to its title as well – it’s not about the meaning of money or the importance of money. It’s the ‘psychology’ of money and the concept has been explained so well that I’ll probably be re-reading this again very soon!

Amol Telang, Charted Accountant & Business Consultant 

Interviewed By: Aparna Ponnaluri

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