Payal Banerjee

  • Marketing
“Passion is everything. Never do anything halfway. Give it all you’ve got - and try to be the best version of yourself along the way. You may or may not succeed, but at least you won’t look back and say - “What if…””

I was a painfully shy kid, a complete introvert. I struggled with conversations, and found myself taking refuge in books. A writer’s ability to draw you into their world – that unlocked something in me.

I wanted to do that – capture everyone’s attention with words and stories. So I opted to study literature, followed by communications. In a family where everyone was a lawyer, doctor, or went to B-school, this didn’t land well. But my mom, always my fiercest champion, spurred me on.

I started off as a freelance journalist in college. After my Masters I got a job in Ogilvy’s PR wing. It was a completely new world, brimming with creative, cool folks always pushing boundaries. I learnt the nuts and bolts of PR there, before moving to Aol, where I did everything from internal comms to events to merchandising. After joining Flipkart in its early days, I got completely addicted to the high octane world of startups, the chaos and exhilaration of building something from scratch, of helping founders share their story.

Sequoia India & Southeast Asia has given me a larger canvas to work with. And with Surge and Spark in the mix, I get to experience the magic of startups every day, tell their stories to the world – and hopefully bring others along for the ride.

The startup world is changing every day – and I want to constantly find new, unpredictable ways and mediums to bring these vibrant stories alive. To help brands transcend black and white headlines and become conversations that endure.

One of my managers at my first job used to be an ad filmmaker. She didn’t have a traditional communications background – which meant she approached every PR challenge with a refreshingly different point of view. It taught me to look at communications, very early on, as something that went well beyond cut and dried press releases.

I was (still am) also very passionate about dancing. I trained in classical dance from age four, well into my twenties. Years of exploring different dance forms made me appreciate how powerful visual mediums can be in telling stories without words.

If you truly want your campaigns to stand apart, you should constantly switch your lens, find new ways of putting your narrative out there. I take inspiration from comic books, art installations, TikTok videos, ad campaigns, conversations with strangers in cafes. To quote John Collison of Stripe – “The world is a museum of passion projects.”

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