Taking Grey to newer heights – Ariful Bashar



I got a chance to speak with Ariful Bashar, The Head of Digital at Grey Dhaka. Ariful Bashar is known for his researching skills, strategic planning ability, and effective training sessions. And of course, a young leader in the advertising industry. Let’s hear from him about Grey and his experience.


How did Grey start their journey in Bangladesh as Grey Dhaka?

Being a multinational company Grey had global knowledge in advertising from the very beginning. In the 19th century advertising was a rare thing to look at and Grey had their people connected even at that time. Before launching a branch in any country Grey uses their country head to acquire the insights and demands of those countries. Grey trains all their employees with the same global exposure which helps them to acquire accurate information. And just like that Grey Dhaka started. We were able to ride along with the culture and local understanding which led us to be one of the strongest advertising agencies in Bangladesh.


What keeps your team up and running with all the new challenges?

Grey follows a very straightforward culture. If you have the abilities, you’re in or else, out. Every employee shares the same mentality in their work and so they are always up to date with all the global changes that are happening. Everyone makes a solution for each problem individually and synchronizing it with our culture the solution is always strategic. This culture makes our challenges easier and more visible to us.


From your perspective which mistakes should the small agencies avoid in order to be successful?

I think they make a big mistake at the beginning. “Digital” is a platform and the small companies don’t seem to understand its core meaning. At the end of the day, every digital agency will do advertising. Small agencies tend to add “Solutions, Digital” etc. at the end of their name. I don’t have any problem with their names but take us for example. We are Grey not Grey digital or Grey solutions. We provide solutions, planning in both digital and traditional ways. So, I think they need to have a proper vision of their work before starting.


What is more important in the creative industry, experience or CGPA?

Advertising is all about creativity. When we see candidates with a high CGPA, we know they are good in academics, we know they can follow the rules properly but in advertising, we don’t follow anything. It’s completely the opposite of the system. Yes, high CGPA means more sincerity but we want activity. It’s not just my point of view; every advertising agency says the same. We look at the creative side, we want experience within our candidates. Extracurricular activities are not a choice but should be mandatory for everyone.


Share some insights about your journey along with your future plans

I’ve been in the advertising industry for almost 8 years. There’s a phrase “You can be a big fish in a small pond or a small fish in a big pond”. I wanted to change the system and be a big fish in a big pond. Throughout the whole journey, Grey turned out to be the big pond. It has been 2 years that I’m working with Grey and so far, it’s good. If anything changes in the future it will either be innovative or else, I’ll stick with advertising.


“Success comes from comfort and not under pressure” do you agree with this term?

I’ve always worked under pressure because we get clients every day. The market is aware of our hard work and so we get more clients. Comfort is not a solution, one needs to know his/her limits first. We often decline some of our clients because we know our limits. Overpressure will mess things up if I’m not careful. We make sure to fulfill our customers’ needs without ruining our work.


What’s the story behind your success? 

Before coming to the corporate sector, I wasn’t involved in any extracurricular activity. I loved bikes and had a passion for gaming which led me nowhere. When I look back at those days, I only see one unique quality in me. I wanted to struggle and I believed that if I give effort day and night, I will get a result. When I jumped into advertising my first client gave me less money compared to my efforts. But still, I concentrated on my work thinking that I’m learning something.


What will it take for an unimaginative person to work in the creative industry?

Everyone has a creative side in them, and all they need is practice. If you want to work in the creative industry then you have to follow those creative works. Work hard, combine your experience, global knowledge, global exposure, cultural understandings and you’ll find the creativity in you.

There are 2 kinds of people out there. Those who are born creative and those who acquire talent. Always remember that if you’re not born creative then you can always acquire talent.


Do you have any message for the youth?

There’s a quote by Steve jobs “I was lucky – I found what I loved to do early in life”. I can relate myself with this so my advice to the youth will be “Decide what you want to do”. I started with HRM then went to sales and now I’m in the advertising sector. I was hyped about digital as well and then I found my passion for advertising, which is why this transition is very important.

Identify your passion and decide what you want to do. No one wants to take the risk of switching jobs after 7-8 years into their professional life. Yes, a stable job is important after graduation but don’t forget to explore other sectors before settling.


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