How a high-energy Aryaka marketing team is beating the Covid-19 Impact and (and still) having fun!

We are a high energy marketing team at Aryaka. We thrive on active engagements, whiteboarding, challenging each other, being creative, lunching together, creating noise in the marketing and above all letting our hair down a bit and having fun. This culture exists across our San Mateo, London and Bangalore offices. For those of you that have followed the Aryaka social media feed, you know what I’m talking about.

One single-celled virus threatened to disrupt all that. We were forced to, as many of you were, to “shelter-in-place”, embrace lockdowns and yet pretend that the new normal is the normal. We’re not an easy group to hold down. Despite all of us working from home, we managed to put out the global state of the WAN survey, release the Cloud-First WAN for dummies edition, build pipeline, introduce new product offerings and bundles to deal with the sudden demand for secure remote access, launch our China website, conduct a ton of webinars, form new partnerships and more! Heck, three of our team members even brought new life into the world, becoming proud parents (all three were girls!) Needless to say, all this was serious work. I have to commend the entire team that really ploughed through these even as there was chaos and uncertainty around them. Some expressed (myself included), that our work actually gave a sense of normalcy to deal with all the chaos around us. Perhaps it even gave us continued purpose.

But we missed the whiteboarding. We missed lunching together, walking into each other’s offices and leaning over our desks to have a quick chat and getting onto our global conference calls huddled in conference rooms – all of which we took for granted. These got substituted by Microsoft Teams chats and Zoom meetings. Some of us even got nostalgic for our long commutes.

We decided to spice things up. Marketing teams are as much right brain as left brain and the right brain was crying for help.

Our idea of fun initially was to change Zoom backgrounds. This was a new learning for many of us and it was fun to see the creativity in the backgrounds. Initially reticent about turning the video on, the team quickly used to the idea and mixed and matched with different flavors of the zoom backgrounds, that turned out to be great conversation starters. I even put on a halo wig the first time and made some of the team believe my hair was really overgrown.

One day we decided to chuck the regular agenda of our weekly team meeting and decided to have a “hidden talent” show, where everyone would showcase a talent that we didn’t know they had. That turned out to be a great session. Musicians, painters, artists, adventurers, wine growers, esoteric hobbyists – all cropped out of the woodwork – it just blew our collective minds! It also helped create better team bonding and gave all of us flavors of our non-work lives, and other passions we believed in.

Then it was time to take it to the next level. The team decided to do a song. We thought of creating something else that we could all look back upon and smile, that symbolized our togetherness and collaboration, even as we were all spread across multiple continents across tens of cities globally, working from our homes.

The team decided to do a song together. One that everybody could relate to. Our resident marketeer Paul Liesenberg chose “Stand by me” the 1961 song by the legendary singer Ben E. King. We felt it would also send a message of togetherness and providing each other support during these times.

Having chosen the song, it was time to execute. We quickly realized choosing the song was easy, singing it was really hard. We had a lot of talent across the team, but singing wasn’t it for most of us. So, we put our creative juices to work with most of the team coming together to contribute.

The result is in this video.

When we originally set out to prove that we can all be seemingly isolated in our homes, but can still come together virtually to have fun, and to not really let COVID-19 conquer us, this song and the effort took on a broader meaning with the incidents that happened in Minneapolis and the murder of Mr. George Floyd and the riots that followed later. It reinforced the need for unity, for bringing diverse people together, to let the world know that all lives matter.

Further, June being pride month, means that we get to embrace our differences, celebrating the uniqueness each one of us have by coming together to represent something far greater than what we can all be as individuals. The whole is greater than the sum of parts

Stand by me, therefore is really a call to action, to stand together, to demonstrate love and unity, regardless of who you are, or where you are.

We hope you have as much fun watching this goofy, video as much as we did in making it. I’m so proud of the team for all their accomplishments over the past year, but when I look back at this 2020, this particular project will have a special place in my heart.

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Take that COVID-19!

About the author

Shashi Kiran
Shashi Kiran is the Chief Marketing Officer at Aryaka Networks responsible for Aryaka’s global marketing, product management and technology partnerships. He brings over 20 years of experience in the hi-tech industry across marketing, product management, business development and partnerships.
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