IDEA: It’s a Family Affair


Brand Director, IDEA

By Ilana Gensler, MA’19

‘You are a product of your environment’ rings true for Aaisha, DMSB’23 and Abhishek Balakrishnan, DMSB’20 raised in the Middle East—a big start-up hub. At five, Aaisha was fascinated by the ability to elicit emotion through marketing. “My mom has a love for old ads and would show us case studies,” says Aaisha. When not learning from her mother—professor of international business and marketing, she was participating in end world hunger events with her father—human resources manager for Yum! Brands, Inc. “I was debating between international relations and international business,” says Aaisha, “but business is a tool that we can use to do good, which is why I went into it.”

Stepping out of his spotlight

Abhishek encouraged Aaisha to join IDEA when he was an analyst, but her efforts to step out of his spotlight remained steadfast. Even still, Aaisha spent more time in the lab to bring snacks, set up events, and meet founders. Aaisha took on a marketing associate role at IDEA mid-way through spring of 2020 and stayed on to help transition during the pandemic and departure of several members. “I ended up joining the year Abhishek was CEO,” says Aaisha. “I was like, ‘I want to support you’ and he was like, ‘The best way you can support me is by helping to write articles,’” says Aaisha. “He was slowly chipping away at my resolve and it worked.”

Finding her place

Aaisha only knew IDEA as the venture accelerator at first and saw it as a faucet for entrepreneurship. “Once I started hanging out with Abhishek and student members, I realized there’s so much more to it,” says Aaisha, “and I started to embrace what it can be.” According to Aaisha, entrepreneurship is a way to create your culture from the ground up instead of taking over what’s already been made. “I got roped into being chief of staff and now I’m brand director,” says Aaisha. “It kept building and I found my place in IDEA.”

November 23, 2021

With a little help from my friends

Aaisha aspires to start a branding consultancy in partnership with friends in the College of Arts, Media and Design. “I want to see if we can make something out of this,” says Aaisha, who is getting advice from Abhishek – an insider to the industry. “My mom is mentoring us through test trials to see what our workflow is like as a team and figuring out our processes for payments and client management,” says Aaisha. For those who aren’t seeking to start a firm Aaisha recommends joining the student management team at Mosaic, a peer-to-peer community of builders and leaders. “There’s room to explore your own interest through open houses or the NEXPO exposition where you can hear what we’ve been doing without getting involved,” says Aaisha.