Sapna Desai

Head-Marketing and Communications

Cigna TTK Health Insurance


What makes a good marketer?

I believe there is no single formula to be a good marketer. Surely, there are ingredients but the right mix is important.

Some of the key ingredients according to me are:

  • Strong business acumen and consumer understanding: Marrying business goals and marketing objectives with a deep understanding of the consumer at the core of everything we do. Being restless, being curious and continuously measuring performance is essential.
  • Be open to ideas: Marketing cannot work in a closed room and one has to be out there, hungry for ideas from anywhere. Change is constant and it is important to predict and evolve with our customers.
  • Innovate: This is an era of innovating ideas and executing the same innovatively.
  • Creativity: For me creativity is not confined to an artwork or an advertisement but across communication. Creativity in doing things differently and being able to stand out of the clutter.

Achieving the right balance comes with being entrepreneurial, flexible, willingness to take risks and of course experience.

Three things you do to prepare for a meeting?

  • Clarity about then agenda for the meeting: This helps me be better prepared and therefore contribute effectively to the discussion. I often structure my thoughts in my head before I get into a meeting.
  • Defining roles and responsibilities: It helps the purpose if some key roles are assigned. We need to have a facilitator to the discussion and a person who would take and share notes.
  • Action Plans: Circulating the minutes of the discussion and the action plans with timelines and roles and responsibilities is something that we do as a practice.

Three things you look for when you hire a person?

  • Expertise and Passion: The candidate must expertise for the role but I also look for people who are passionate about what they do and what they have achieved so far.
  • Freshness: When I interview people for any role in my team I look out for a fresh perspective. So I ask relevant questions and seek some newness in the answers.
  • The right cultural fit: I personally look out for the right fit, not only from a professional perspective but also in terms of the right attitude. I look for a positive attitude, a willingness to learn, an element of fun which helps me eventually build a team of happy people. Happy people work better and are definitely more productive.

Where do you think Marketing is headed?

In today’s digital world, marketing is the function responsible for creating and sustaining a long-lasting relationship with the most important asset of any business—the customer. In an always-on world, consumer behavior and expectations are changing. As a result, the nature of marketing itself is also changing—data, digital, social, mobile, analytics, real-time agility—these have all become part of the vocabulary of numerous business articles and conversation. Thus marketers need to shift their focus from pushing messages at people to engaging them in an ongoing conversation and relationship. The rise of mobile, coupled with an evolving, more web-like TV market will present a vastly different communications landscape. Marketing will need to rise to the challenge and this will involve many changes in old processes, from design to measurement. I do see technology becoming an integral skill of the modern marketer.

What would you say to someone who aspires to be in marketing?

Stay curious, stay hungry. I would encourage people to stay well-informed by reading and being intellectually sharp.

What are a few activities you do at your leisure?

I have a developed a passion for running in the last few years. I am lucky to work for Cigna TTK which believes in ‘Health hai to life hai’, so we take living healthy rather seriously. We sponsor 4 prominent marathons in India (including the iconic Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon). It’s great to have running as part of my profession. I also love teaching young minds theater and have held several workshops. Nurturing young minds and shaping their overall personality is something that gives me immense joy.

Do you love/ hate data?

Can’t exist without data. In this era of performance marketing, data is currency. However I believe data is as effective as the value it creates.

One app that you cannot do without?

I love reading especially when I am on the move. So the Kindle app is one app that stays with me.



Sapna Desai is Head- Marketing and Communication at Cigna TTK, India. She has responsible for developing and implementing the overall Marketing and Brand Strategy for Cigna TTK. She leads Research and Insight, Channel Marketing, Corporate Communication, Social and Digital Marketing and Internal Communication. She has been responsible for introducing and building the Cigna TTK brand in India. Cigna TTK was recognized as the ET Promising Brand for 2015.

Sapna brings to Cigna TTK an experience across brand management, consumer insights, product development, advertising, integrated communications and managing marketing investments. She has worked across service industries; including financial, telecom, education and advertising. Prior to joining

Cigna she has been responsible for providing strategic direction and leadership for financial brands at Ogilvy Advertising, Mumbai. She has also worked with ING Life Insurance, heading brand strategy and management. She has also worked with Indian School of Business and BPL Mobile in various marketing roles. She has an overall experience of 15 years.

Sapna is a commerce graduate with an MBA from NMIMS, Mumbai. Sapna is passionate about art and theater. She is and avid marathoner and has two daughters Anushka and Annanya.



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