Marketing Game Changers 2020: Vikram Krishna

Vikram Krishna

Executive vice-president, head of group marketing & customer experience, Emirates NBD

Previous jobs

Head  of retail loans, Emirates NBD

Head of retail products & marketing, Emirates Bank

Senior vice-president, marketing, retail assets, HSBC, India

Vice-president & head of mortgages, North India, CitiFinancial

Recent campaigns

Emirates NBD’s public awareness ­campaign on safe banking It Wasn’t Me raised awareness of a serious issue in a light-hearted video that parodies Shaggy’s popular song. The video went viral and is a great example of how humour and ­creativity can be used to educate ­consumers and influence social change.

Recent achievements

I am proud of the recent work we have done in enhancing our data analytics, transitioning from a product-centric to a customer-centric approach. Our customers now benefit from more targeted communications that match their needs, and we have significantly increased our campaign conversion rates, resulting in improved revenue, profitability and, most importantly, customer satisfaction. We recently became the first bank in the MENA region to be covered in Facebook’s Global Success Story section for our digital engagement strategy in launching the Emirates NBD LuLu 247 MasterCard credit card.

What is your objective in your current role?

To me, the best marketing comes from the passionate endorsements of engaged customers – which is why my goal is to continue working with my team of passionate market-leading professionals to build sustainable customer relationships and create meaningful impact within the communities we serve, while we generate shareholder return on investment.

Do you have a guiding principle?

My guiding principle in life is to be honest, genuine, thoughtful and caring.
I aspire to be able to constantly create opportunities for the people around me to prosper and become better together.

What have you learned from a specific failure?

Never let success get to your head and failure get to your heart. Also,
I strongly believe that you only fail when you stop trying.

What work do you wish you had done?

This year has fuelled some really outstanding work across the world. The industry adapted quickly to the post-pandemic reality and worked hard to create impactful and meaningful change. I really liked the recent campaign by Burger King encouraging people to eat at KFC, Subway, McDonalds, etc. ahead of the second lockdown. The campaign embodies the true spirit of empathy and support we have seen this year, putting aside competitive differences and recognising the need to help people keep jobs and enable the industry to survive.

Who inspires you professionally?

Elon Musk is someone I follow for his incredible imagination, passion and spectacular execution.

What is the next big trend in marketing?

Today’s hyper-connected consumers expect us to understand, anticipate and react to them in real-time. To do so, marketers will need to develop an ecosystem that caters to this demand using data and technology to drive personalisation at scale. We have to use every bit of information available to make an impact. Organisations need to realise that their customers are already accustomed to highly personalised Facebook, Netflix and Amazon experiences, making customisation a minimum requirement for future success.

What can we expect to see from you and your brand in the next year?

Our focus will be more on financial literacy and social content to support our customers and the community, along with further developing our marketing technology and continuing to lead digital innovation.

Agency reference

Jon Marchant, managing director, FP7 McCann Dubai

I must admit, I found it slightly odd at first that Vikram had been nominated for a ‘game-changers’ award, for the simple reason that he has been a true leader at Emirates NBD for more than a decade and has been such a stalwart of our marketing community here in Dubai. That said, it is a testament to his character and commitment for continually driving the bank forward. Someone once said, “Anyone can steer the boat when the sun is shining, and it is only in stormy weather that you will see a true captain.” In this most torrid of years, under Vikram’s leadership the bank has weathered the storm admirably, posted solid results and put out some consistently excellent content across 2020. 

On a personal level we’ve worked together for three years exactly, but FP7 McCann and Emirates NBD’s partnership is now over a decade long, which says a lot for the loyalty Vikram has shown, and is continuing to show, in our formidable partnership.

When a partnership lasts more than 10 years, that’s quite a back catalogue. But rather than single out any one piece of work, I would say our best collaboration has been Vikram’s dogged determination to drive the digital transformation at Emirates NBD over recent years, and how we have enjoyed contributing, in a relatively small part, to be with him on that journey. We’ve been bringing to life, through our campaigns and activations, all of their digital innovations over the years, culminating in the bank being named Most Innovative Bank in the World globally in 2018. That was collectively our proudest moment, for sure.

A brave and bold leader, Vikram always keeps his mind open to continually exploring new ways and new approaches to drive the bank’s marketing and innovations. He is a marketer who will continuously aim for perfection. He trusts my team and you can see that he takes our counsel where required. His encouraging style and passion is infectious, and this definitely drives the agency to continuously come back with stronger work. Lastly, he is a thoroughly decent chap with a cracking sense of humour and a smile that can light up any meeting room.


What are you working on?
Conserving natural habitats all over the world.

Who are you following?
Greta Thunberg.

What are you craving? 
I miss spending time with my family in New Delhi.

Who are you hiding from?

What are you playing? 
The sound of the birds chirping in my garden.

What are you listening to?
Podcasts from The Economist, the BBC and Robin Sharma.

What are you reading?
100 Year Life by Lynda Graton and Andrew Scott.

What are you watching?
Companies and individuals innovating to thrive in a post-pandemic world.

Where are you isolating?
In my garden, watching my plants flourish.

What did you learn over lockdown?
No matter the situation, start every day with a positive thought and a grateful heart.