Srishti Narayan, BCAHons

Srishti Narayan counts herself lucky with her latest opportunity: heading up the Global Marketing team at Tourism Fiji.

With a varied and rewarding career so far, this new opportunity has taken Srishti back to her home nation, where she is keen to use her skills to share not only Fiji’s beautiful landscapes, but most importantly it’s culture and local experiences.

A head and shoulders portrait of Srishti Narayan

Tell us a bit about yourself…

I was born in Fiji and moved to Wellington with my parents when I was five. We lived in Lower Hutt until I was 13 and then moved into Wellington City. I studied at Victoria University of Wellington from 2001-2004 and then worked in Wellington for a couple of years after I graduated. I later moved to Auckland where I was based until recently, apart from two years spent living in Kuala Lumpur on my OE. In 2022, I moved back to Fiji for my current role.

What did you study and why did you choose your degree?

I did a Bachelor of Commerce and Administration with Honours. I chose my degree because, honestly, at the time I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and it seemed like a good all-round degree that would open some doors.

What’s your strongest memory of studying at Victoria University of Wellington?

Lunchtimes in the quad and late nights at the library. But mostly the friendships forged during those times and the inspiring teachers I met along the way.

What’s your current role and what does it involve?

I’m currently the Head of Global Marketing at Tourism Fiji. My role is to ensure the Fiji brand, and Tourism Fiji’s global content and partnerships are impactful, effective and consistent globally. Fiji is so much more than beautiful palm trees and white sand (although that side is real and epic). My team is responsible for ensuring the things we create and take out to the world represent the depths of Fiji’s culture and environment in the most powerful way, encourage more visitors to come and experience the full spectrum of experiences on offer, and position the country as a must-visit destination globally.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

Being born in Fiji, it’s an enormous privilege to be able to contribute to my birthplace in a professional capacity. As a marketer you can sometimes walk a fine line between the brands and products you work on and your own values, but for me this role is a perfect meeting of personal connection and professional skills. I also love watching people grow and become more confident expressing their views and leading work they’re passionate about – it’s definitely one of the most rewarding aspects of what I do. From a marketing perspective I love the science of creating an emotional connection with an audience and the fact that you really need to understand social trends and sentiment to do that well. I also enjoy the blend of creativity, strategy and empathy that’s required daily

What have been your career highlights, and any challenges?

I’ve been incredibly lucky to have had a varied and rewarding career so far. The highlights are the unexpected things – working on a month-long food festival in Malaysia but eating McDonald’s every night, helping train drug dogs at Wellington airport during a uni holiday, and dancing in a pride parade with my boss while we were working for a major bank. The best times have been those when I’ve worked with a team to pull off something that feels unachievable, or that changes the way things have been done before. For the most part I’ve spent my career in a corporate environment and sometimes pushing a view of inclusion (and actually just being a brown woman) hasn’t been welcomed. On the whole though I think we’ve moved so far forward on that front over the last few years and I love that the conversation is shifting from “let’s feature multi-ethnic people in the ad” to actually trying to understand and reflect the values of those faces.

How has what you learnt at Victoria University of Wellington helped you in your career? Any standout advice?

One of my lecturers once told me that he was always surprised when he read my work because I had such strong perspectives, but in class I never spoke up and didn’t participate in conversation. He told me that I needed to be more confident using my voice because what I had to say had value. I wouldn’t say I’m shy, but I used to really struggle expressing my views in a group setting. That conversation has stayed with me through my whole career. In my work it’s often necessary to have a clear point of view, and whenever I’ve been uncertain whether I should voice my opinion, I remember that conversation. Speaking up has helped me project a sense of confidence, even when I’m not feeling it, and in a workplace that is incredibly powerful.

What advice would you give VUW students today?

Take all the opportunities! If it excites you and is something you can accommodate, do it. Somewhere in the future those unconnected things you did and the skills you learnt from them will start to overlap, and you’ll end up with a unique combination of abilities and experiences you couldn’t have predicted. And no matter how successful or talented you are, respect people and planet first. Without these things success is irrelevant.

What are your interests/passions outside of work?

I love travelling (handy in my current role!), reading, listening to music/going to gigs, eating and cooking, staying active and anything wellness and healing related. I did a reiki course last year and have loved doing it on my friends and family.

What would someone be surprised to know about you?

I can be extremely uncoordinated and broke both my ankles at the same time when I was at high school in Wellington. Not my finest hour!