Priya Patankar | The Innovator 25 Asia-Pacific 2020

Priya Patankar

Head of Communications

Bangalore, India


“Commit to doing some creative work every day, even if you don't feel like doing it”

When Priya Patankar joined PhonePe in 2017, she was charged with getting consumers to buy into using the digital payment app — as well as garnering trust of digital wallets — in the aftermath of India’s demonetization of some banknotes the year before. Amidst the national push towards a cashless economy, Patankar waged an extensive campaign to do that through media relations and consumer education, all while simultaneously building a team capable of managing the company’s surge in users, many of whom were strangers to digital banking, at the government’s behest. The extensive consumer onboarding and retention program Patankar helped build played a key role in making PhonePe what it is today: one of India’s largest digital wallet platforms, with more than 100 million users conducting more than 2 billion transactions in 2019 alone and a powerful voice for the fintech industry. 

How do you define innovation? 
Ability and willingness to challenge the status quo, despite knowing that this entails significant sacrifices.

What is the most innovative comms/marketing initiative you've seen in the last 12 months?
Nike's ''Just don't do it'' was very empowering. It was heartening to see a large brand take a risk and stand up for a cause.

In your opinion, what brands and/or agencies are most innovative around PR and marketing? 
This year, for me it's a remarkable individual. Greta Thunberg who has single handedly created a youth brand around climate change and made it very real for a lot of children and many adults too. Till then, it was not their problem!

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider 'innovative.' 
Taking a break from corporate life, and creating and launching a product for a 'Not for Profit' education initiative to help underprivileged students in India and inner city schools in the US, which got backing by Gates Foundation.

Who do you admire for his/her approach to innovation?  
Elon Musk - decides, and does it, come hell or high water.

How do you get out of a creativity rut? 
Surprisingly, working consistently pays! Commit to doing some creative work every day, even if you don't feel like doing it, and after a while it blossoms.

What advice would you give to the PR industry around embracing innovation? 
Think pull, not push. Too often we over index on the "Pitch" or "Angle", instead it is far easier to think about what creates an interesting read for the target, and then craft our message.

What would you be doing if you weren't doing your current job? 
Product Management, Writing Fiction

Which book/movie/TV show/podcast/playlist/other cultural source has helped you get through this year or provided inspiration? 
Finite and Infinite Games

What's your favourite time of day and why? 
The afternoon, when I am at my chirpiest, and most people around me are coping with the post-lunch, pre- coffee stupor.