Veda Hrudya Nadendla commenced her professional endeavors at 17, driven not merely by the need to earn and provide for herself but by an innate desire to engage in various pursuits persistently. It is crucial to understand that her background extended far beyond formal education, encompassing a natural inclination to plunge into new situations and put her skills and knowledge into practice across diverse scenarios, fueled by an insatiable curiosity to discover solutions to human problems.
However, the trajectory of Veda’s life took an unforeseen turn when her father met an untimely demise in a freak accident in Croatia. At the tender age of 17, she decided to relinquish the opportunity to pursue an Honours degree in Psychology at her preferred institution, Lady Shri Ram College. Instead, she remained in Chennai with her mother and younger brother. While she pursued a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from 2010 to 2013 at Ethiraj College, it was not solely this academic pursuit that propelled her growth during those initial years. It was her innate tendency to immerse herself in every conceivable endeavor. In hindsight, she discovered that her relentless pursuit of diverse activities served as a means of escaping the anguish of loss, and yet, what a remarkable path it was!
From triumphing in beauty pageants such as the Chennai Times Fresh Face 2010 and securing the title of Indian Navy Queen 2011 in Chennai to authoring feature articles for a supplementary newspaper of the Times of India and teaching English communication to children at 17000 Ft, Veda showcased her multifaceted talents. Furthermore, she took the initiative to establish the Model United Nations Committee at Ethiraj College for Women, leaving an indelible mark on the 75 year old Institution’s repertoire by inviting renowned personality Shashi Tharoor to participate in their inaugural MUN event. To supplement her income, she devoted three years to performing with an acapella band, acting in ads and short films, freelancing as a content writer and strategically targeting college cultural festivals to ensure a minimum of two competition victories in each endeavor.
From 2012 to 2014, Veda Hrudya Nadendla dedicated her efforts to working with a non-governmental organization called ‘Make A Difference’. Recognizing her capabilities, MAD positioned 19-year old Veda at the helm of their maiden voyage with experiential crowdfunding, she led their City Fundraising Team in Chennai. Veda and her team’s primary objective was to raise funds for the 163 children under MAD’s tutelage in the city’s shelter homes. Through experiential crowdfunding events like never-before and merchandise sales, Veda and her team raised an estimate of INR 12 lakhs during this period, besides a 25L grant from PWC Chennai
Recognizing the potential limitations of a future in core psychology after completing her Bachelor’s degree, Veda Hrudya Nadendla decided to pursue a Master’s in Human Resource and Organization Development from 2013 to 2015. Specializing in Organization Behavior, this shift in her academic focus allowed her to transition away from the development sector. It allowed her to explore new avenues in the business world and take risks with her skills and services she had never envisioned.
Towards the end of her first year in the Master’s program, Veda Hrudya Nadendla began experiencing a growing sense of resentment towards certain members of her family due to their regressive treatment of women who had lost their husbands. Witnessing how traditional beliefs were often conflated with notions of humanity, thereby limiting individuals, fueled her desire to challenge such practices and advocate for change in the world around her, just as much as she did at home. In her quest to question these limitations, particularly those imposed on women, including those who had achieved professional success like her mother, she joined YouthKiAwaaz.
Initially, Veda joined the organization as an intern, seeking a platform to voice her concerns and write about subjects & instances that truly mattered to her. Recognizing her talent and passion, YouthKiAwaaz promptly offered her a permanent position as City Editor & Features Writer. From 2014 to 2015, she fearlessly shared truths about human rights, sex education, critically acclaimed cinema, and the ground realities in India through her writing. These thought-provoking pieces, including the rescue-story of a 14 year old girl, ultimately invited her to deliver a TEDx talk titled ‘Feminism is a lifestyle, not a label.’
An enterprising spirit undoubtedly characterizes individuals like Veda, but equally befitting descriptions for her are ‘curious’ and ‘inquisitive.’ Veda had a fervent desire to engage in myriad pursuits, driven by the aspiration to contribute, support, and grow. her goal was to collaborate, converse and collectively construct a better and more enjoyable world across diverse scenarios, roles, industries and challenges.
Veda Hrudya Nadendla, at the age of 29, currently holds a significant role as the Head of the Brand Marketing function for the flagship Postgraduate Programme in Technology & Business Management, at a new age Business School in India. The school’s educational & pedagogical philosophy aligns closely with her own life’s principle of experiential learning. With over 11 years of experience in marketing, communications, content creation, and brand management, Veda has established herself as a seasoned professional.
In her current position at Masters’ Union, Veda and her team have achieved remarkable success in expanding the reach and impact of the brand within a short period. They have played a pivotal role in driving a highly successful fourth admissions cycle for the flagship PGP (Postgraduate Program), generating a significant % increase in high-intent top-funnel generating a significant % increase in high-intent top-funnel during the admissions drive in comparison to the previous financial year. . From this top funnel of high-intent leads, the incoming cohort has reached a remarkable milestone of 202 students, marking the first time any cohort has welcomed such numbers since the institution’s inception.
Under Veda’s leadership, the school’s online presence has witnessed remarkable growth. The Instagram Account has grown from 30k – 115k+ followers while the YouTube channel has surged from 30k to 200k+ subscribers. This exceptional growth is a testament to the school’s distinctive approach to impart application-based learning from on-ground challenges, integrated into the student’s curriculum, and developed into content that resonates with a global audience. The motto of the school is to transform the way students learn about business, access jobs and create jobs – a philosophy reflected in its pedagogy and social outreach.
Deciphering Customer Needs for Business Success
With an unwavering commitment to applying the principles of behavioral science and psychology in marketing and business growth, and a flair for communication, Veda has developed a unique approach to understanding businesses through the lens of human behavior and organization behavior. By inquiring into business problem statements on a macro level , she has effectively identified and resolved challenges by decoding the needs of customers and target market behaviors.
Veda’s expertise lies in comprehending the intricacies of people’s motivations, communicating with and about these intricacies and ultimately discovering underlying problems within businesses. By delving deep into the psyche of individuals, drawing on her vast cadence of experiences across industries, especially in the context of target market behaviors, she has successfully unlocked innovative possibilities and generated impactful solutions.
One of Veda’s key strengths is her ability to shape business and customer journeys through storytelling, strategy and assembling successful squads. She believes in “reasoning by first principles” as the greatest way to learn the truths about anything and bring about change. Her passion for understanding humans, crafting memorable brands, communicating with empathy and effect, and refining business solutions has propelled her achievements in the field. These accomplishments result from her well-rounded background, characterized by an interdisciplinary pedigree spanning various industries, diverse experiences, and vibrant roles, accumulated over 11 years.
Veda’s approach to business growth combines her in-depth understanding of human behavior, strategic thinking, and the art of storytelling. By leveraging this unique blend of skills, she has consistently driven the growth of brands, influenced customer experiences, and shaped successful business trajectories. Veda believes that, “Understanding and profiling your customer thoroughly, especially their pain points, helps a marketer identify their key opportunity areas, which in turn becomes the fodder to build an identity or a voice for their business/ product” In Veda’s experience she has come to learn that brands may build identities based on their offerings, but the “ethos of brand identity, voice & positioning is always the customer.” Her ability to shape brands, craft effective strategies and assemble high performing teams reflects ber unwavering dedication to creating memorable experiences and driving sustainable success. Her ability to shape brands, craft effective strategies, and assemble high-performing teams reflects her unwavering dedication to creating memorable experiences and driving sustainable success.
Revolutionizing Problem Solving Through People-First Approach
In a world driven by technology, a people-first approach to problem-solving has proven progressive and disruptive. This approach acknowledges that people are at the core of any situation, solution or innovation. Despite the prevalence of technology, our minds and needs remain the driving force behind its design and evolution, aiming to serve humanity better and advance our capabilities and achievements.
By deeply understanding the individuals involved and their distinct needs and motivations, Veda can uncover invaluable insights that shape her approach. Her method to marketing, communicating and solving effectively resonates with the ‘Think Bigger’ Methodology described by Sheena Iyengar in her Course at Columbia Business School. Through astute utilization of technology, she strategically harnesses and engages emotions to captivate attention and steer it towards the intended products, services, and businesses she has been a part of.
With a people-centric focus, Veda has witnessed the transformative impact of placing individuals at the forefront of problem-solving. This approach empowers her to create solutions that genuinely cater to her customers’ precise needs and aspirations, resulting in innovations that resonate on a profound level. Leveraging technology as a versatile tool, she adeptly aligns these solutions with the ever-evolving demands and preferences of the target audience.
Veda approaches business problems – by prioritizing the individuals involved and gaining a deep understanding of their needs and motivations. Through the strategic use of technology, she effectively identifies and stimulates the appropriate emotions, thereby capturing attention and driving engagement toward the intended products, services, and businesses that she strongly believes in.
Moreover, Veda acknowledges the impact of the Nobel Prize-winning ‘nudge theory’ introduced by economist Richard Thaler in 2008. This theory focuses on choice architecture, and on guiding individuals to make decisions that may initially be challenging but prove beneficial in the long run. By understanding and managing the heuristic influences on human behavior, this theory has sparked a revolution in the education sector in India. Veda personally and professionally witnessed and actively participated in this transformative movement.
As a Senior Brand Associate in the Founders’ Office at Harappa, Veda successfully implemented the nudge theory through email marketing strategies. At the onset of the first lockdown in India, Harappa Education’s primary objective was to drive the widespread adoption of their customized and pre-recorded ed-tech soft skill courses to enhance professional and personal efficacy significantly. ‘Amid Covid’s societal chaos and the absence of conventional work..’
During this period, Veda and the team at Harappa effectively made professional habit-building content easily accessible to millions of customers across India through online platforms at affordable rates. It is at this time that she was able to master the skills of ‘conversion using the power of words’. There is a lot that can be achieved by the right ‘subject line’ and ‘call to action’. This initiative was particularly crucial as it coincided with the sudden period when individuals were compelled to work and operate remotely. Amid societal chaos and the absence of conventional work norms, accessing courses such as “Discovering Purpose” and “Speaking Effectively” became transformative to the average Indian professional. ‘These courses enabled invidividuals to transition from being merely skilled to becoming professionals equipped with habits to handle and succeed in workplaces today.’
Crafting Marketing Experiences that Serve Customers and Businesses Equally
In 2015, Veda worked at Postergully, a startup that connects businesses with artists. Veda introduced an on-ground activation called See-Saw, an exhibition that combined the customer, the company, and the artists who were the backbone of the business. This exhibition had never been done before, and it helped the brand pivot to an artist-centric narrative.
In 2017, Veda worked with Delhi’s oldest consumer electronics distributor, Ishaan Networks, on the re-launch of a product called Tata Swach. Veda and their team conducted market research across Haryana and Rajasthan to understand the psychology of water consumption. They also built a community-driven sales mechanism for the re-launch of Tata’s cost-effective and durable water filter. This water filter had the potential to drastically improve the lives of the average rural/semi-urban household.
In the ten years Veda has spent acting on camera since 2010, she has also acquired a comprehensive understanding of the pre and post-production of artistic and commercial content. This unique combination of skills, coupled with her ability to comprehend and motivate the human mind, has enabled her to identify opportunities that led to the transformation of the brands she has collaborated with into relatable and captivating narratives.
During 2019, Veda diversified the reach and offerings of Delhi-based veteran Yoga methodology called AtréYoga run by Zubin Atre. From expanding the top funnel of the brand with guided meditation podcasts on The Quint and the Cult.Fit app, to taking the brand to national audiences via episodes on Doordarshan and CNN News Networks; Veda built a luxury franchise business model to take AtreYoga to 5-Star plus hospitality properties in Delhi, in order to expand and evolve the business offering. During her tenure in the Founders’ Office at IIFL Wealth, a prominent wealth management firm in India, Veda excelled in crafting communications focusing on conversion. She had a remarkable talent for writing impactful emails and concise 50-word notes that consistently resulted in successful business prospecting meetings. With just a single letter, Veda could bring together two business leaders, enabling them to engage in fruitful discussions and explore potential collaborations. Of the two businesses Veda Co-Founded and exited between 2015 and 2018 – one continues successful operations. Formerly Musaafir, ShopZiddi.com is a handcrafted sustainable jewellery brand that serves customers world-over Her expertise in persuasive communication played a crucial role in facilitating connections and creating opportunities for mutual growth and exploration.
From Content Activations to Entrepreneurial Mentorship
Veda was brought on board at Masters’ Union to implement a content-based business strategy, specifically for top-of-the-funnel activation, during the fourth admissions cycle of the prestigious flagship PG Programme. Recognizing the brand’s reputation as a platform led by industry veterans and practitioners, she was pivotal in facilitating a much-needed and data-driven shift towards student-led and student-centric content that authentically portrayed the realities of life within the institution.
Over nine months, Veda successfully empowered students to find their voice across various Masters’ Union channels, establishing them as integral contributors to the brand’s identity through content activations, communications, and collaborations. It is with great humility that she acknowledges the trust placed in her as students building their businesses across diverse industries seek her mentorship and support in their entrepreneurial journeys.
Adapting to the Constant Flux of Modern Times
Since 2015, Veda has found a deep solace in the observation and documentation of life on earth, besides humans. What began with bird watching and butterfly counting, has led her to becoming a Professional Naturalist who advocates for the protection of natural life on earth from the adulteration of human interference. ‘in Veda’s words, “the natural world is the dam that protects the human mind from moulding only to the tune of technology and our thirst for progress.’
Many transformative developments in the human realm, particularly within the realm of technology, are rapidly underway and unregulated , meanwhile allowing plenty of time for their unrestricted usage that propells human capabilities to new heights. “Our daily dependency on technology in every walk of life, and the growing significance of data could lead to irreversible conditioning of our neural landscapes and possibly cause unprecedented empowerment for each human with ‘access’. The repercussions remain uncertain and require further examination.
Undoubtedly, technology has already remarkably transformed human capital within fewer than 20 years, establishing us as cognitive cyborgs who are capable of amalgamating technology with our cognitive abilities to the point of no return”. Veda states that this calls for a new age of research into the effects on the human mind, psyche and diaspora; but it also demands for a new call to action – one that seeks balance and the best of both worlds.
According to Veda, the current era necessitates individuals to rapidly acquire new skills through weekend upskilling or on-the-job learning to compensate for gaps in their formal education. In their quest for swift outcomes, people can rely on tools and plug-ins to supplement their abilities and fill those gaps. Consequently, our dystopian future revolves around something other than the eventual emergence of conscious artificial intelligence.
The fast-paced evolution, accompanied by constant change and volatility in various aspects such as structures, processes, behaviors, and psyches, and overall realities leaves little time and opportunity for in-depth research into the effects of these transformations on human thinking and decision-making. This trajectory’s ultimate consequences and direction can only be envisioned or speculated upon. The only way to know is to keep the research and conversations going. “The only healthy way to succeed in this – is to retain the first principles and stay in touch with the natural world”.
Name: Veda Hrudya Nadendla
Designation: Head of Brand Marketing & Media, Masters’ Union | TEDx Speaker