By Jacqueline Emigh
Entrepreneur and tech marketing whiz Parna Sarkar-Basu is busier than ever these days.
Sarkar-Basu is the founder and CEO of the US-based Brand and Buzz Marketing LLC, a consulting firm focused on corporate marketing, thought leadership, and branding. After holding a series of high-level positions with major tech companies, she launched
Brand and Buzz two years ago to raise the visibility of women in tech so they can be better “heard and seen in the industry.”
With this effort, Sarkar-Basu aims to help startups raise funds by “humanizing technology and humanizing brands.” Besides, she’s a member of the Forbes Councils and serves on multiple boards, including the Boston chapters of the American Marketing Association and the Women in Technology International.
Shaping Tech Start-Up Strategies
Her C.V. includes marketing positions with tech firms such as iRobot, PTC, Invention Machine, and iCorps Technologies.
“I got to work with brilliant entrepreneurs and business leaders in various global companies and was privileged to have a seat at the table,” Sarkar-Basu says.
Her experience at iRobot, just eight months before the initial public offering, was instructive. Sarkar-Basu quickly recognized that an IPO needs to be based on a brand, as opposed to just a product. Consequently, she helped position iRobot as a robot company instead of one making innovative vacuum cleaners. In an intensive collaborative effort, she worked with the company founders to create messaging, build the robot ecosystem, educate analysts, and organize events.
It took a few years, and experience with other firms positioning or repositioning brands, that she decided it was time she did something herself.
Ringing the NASDAQ Bell
In one career highlight, she rang the NASDAQ closing bell on December 14, 2018, along with WITI President David Leighton and WITI Board Advisor Rene Redwood, to mark the company’s 30th anniversary. While her name flashed on the NASDAQ Tower, she discussed the importance of gender inclusivity to both people on the NASDAQ trading floor and a livestreamed audience on the Internet.
Together with David Leighton and WITI founder Carolyn Leighton, Sarkar-Basu had just finished refreshing the WITI brand with an emphasis on “the three I’s”: innovation, inclusion, and inspiration.
Initiating STEM Programs for Kids
Sarkar-Basu has put her heart into helping women pursue nontraditional careers, and students to enjoy STEM education. As a volunteer working with schools, she’s devised a range of STEM projects, including a Math Wizards Club for grades 1-5 and a science festival to foster future innovators.
Earlier, while at iRobot, she had developed a K-12 program in which students visited the company, talked to engineers, and played with robots. In fact, that is how her son first became interested in robots. He’s currently a candidate for a master’s degree in robotics from Carnegie-Mellon University.
Giving the Support She Didn’t Get
Sarkar-Basu attributes her passion for inclusivity to a desire to give others the kind of support she wishes she’d received earlier in life. Growing up in India, she wanted to become a doctor, but was discouraged.
Instead, she pursued a liberal arts education, earning a master’s degree in world literature from Delhi University. She then got married and followed her husband to the Boston, MA area, where he was studying for a Ph.D at MIT. They now have two children: a daughter and a son.
Succeeding During the Pandemic
Like virtually everyone else, Sarkar-Basu and her family are feeling the impact of the pandemic in their daily lives at home. Also residing in the household in a suburb outside of Boston is her mother, now in her 80s.
“It’s our responsibility to keep my mom safe. We continue to take extra precautions, particularly for her,” the entrepreneur says.
On the work front, Sarkar-Basu and her team at Brand and Buzz are now active in new spheres as well. Working from home, she has put together dozens of virtual programs, such as fireside chats and panel discussions. One recent fireside chat, put together in collaboration with WITI, was with Harriet Cross, the British consul general of New England. In another, conducted in partnership with WomenTech Network, the Brand and Buzz CEO chatted with Kathleen Mitford, chief strategy officer and executive vice president of PTC, a firm that generates digital transformation solutions to use the internet of things in an industrial setting.
Advising Companies on Inclusivity
Sarkar-Basu is also strategizing around and showcasing clients that are doing exceptionally well during the “new normal,” including Onshape, a company that’s helping to develop life-saving products for front-line workers.
She’s hosted several online sessions for global women’s organizations such as the ASIS Women in Security Council, delivering tips on how women can build their digital footprint and be “‘heard and seen’ while working from home” – whether they’re hunting for a job or seeking a promotion.
Given that inclusivity and diversity have been gaining public and industry attention, now that more companies are looking to hire women — and more specifically women of color — Sarkar-Basu’s team is supporting her clients’ diversity and inclusivity initiatives with suggestions on best practices.