Women
at DAN

Simi Sabhaney

CEO, Dentsu India

“There is one piece of advice I would like to give aspiring leaders – Prioritise. A rather simple word but in this word sits a world of clarity. And if not done right, it’s a door to a world of chaos.”

When you leave an organization after 23 years, you are pretty much like a fish out of water. That's what I felt when I quit Ogilvy and joined Dentsu Communications in 2014 as a CEO.

I was certain I would embrace the new place as my own, while steering it in a new direction. What this meant was, getting teams aligned and focused on the new ambitious goals that were set to propel the agency to newer heights.

What I had brought along with me was fresh ideas, new energy and a sense of commitment to make inroads into newer sectors.

Instead, I found myself battling with a very different work culture, weak team dynamics, fragile egos and Not Invented Here syndrome. I found myself juggling with various balls. Of course that meant I focus on one ball at a time, set the rhythm, block out any distraction that would dilute my energy. More importantly, I had to be patient because it was very clear that things would not change in a day.

Yes things did change, but what preceded the change was rather painful.

While I respect talent that has stood with an organisation over years, but if the same talent is unwilling to adopt change for the better, it can become a noose around the organisation’s neck.

This was possibly the hardest period in my career, wherein I had to take a call that the old talent changes yielding place to new. Change is viewed as a merciless act by some and admired by others. To me it was just a matter of being courageous and being true to oneself.

Today when I look around at Team Dentsu India (earlier called as Dentsu Communications) I feel so proud of every team member. Sure, I have added a few wrinkles on the way, but it was worth it!

And of course, I now know I have an alternate career option… I could be a Juggler!

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There is one piece of advice I would like to give aspiring woman leaders. On second thoughts, this advice would be relevant to any aspiring leaders, regardless of their gender.

PRIORITISE.

A rather simple word but in this word sits a world of clarity. And if not done right, it’s a door to a world of chaos.

At most critical junctures, you have to make a choice. And if this choice comes from the space of prioritising your goals, your roles, your needs, your desires, your battles, your highs; life becomes much simpler. Remember these priorities need to be evaluated from time to time and their ranking keeps changing; more often than not, it’s a function of your life stage.

Have the courage to look at your priorities in the eye and have the courage to face the consequences, whatever they maybe. And lastly, whatever you do, remember to have fun!

Sujata Dwibedy

Group Trading Director, Amplifi, Dentsu Aegis Network India

“At DAN, we have developed an organisational culture that makes work-life balance not only an expectation but a reality.”

One would be surprised to know that in India, despite the rapid economic growth, Women accounted for just 15.2% of corporate directors in 2019. The global average is 20.6%. The same study showed India has the 3rd-lowest rank in Asia-Pacific countries when it comes to women CEOs (2%), the second-lowest rank (1%) when it comes to CFOs.

Luckily that’s all Industry average, Media and Advertising are in better shape than any other industry when it comes to the employee proportion. What is observed is that enough young women are joining the workforce in our industry. They prove themselves through hard work and sincerity, but somewhere as soon as their life-stage changes, they are in the middle management they give up due to all-round pressure. Either family, children plus work get difficult to manage or they give up even without trying it out. Women may not always realize how poised for success they are in leadership roles but their potential and abilities are irrefutable.

They are good at multitasking. They handle crises well. They make their jobs look effortless but don’t easily speak up about the difficulties they go through while accomplishing it. They often shy away from demanding their designations and salary though they might be sincerer as well as more responsible. It is inherent in our culture that women don’t easily demand what they deserve.

A lot is being done already but a lot of policies need to be simplified for everyday life. Also, this question is asked to mostly senior women but ideally, both senior men, women and the entire team should be equally responsible to motivate the young efficient women.

The entire organisation gains if they can train and then retain competent women leading up to a management role. It is critical to show them advancement opportunities and their growth path. Policies might have to be tweaked but if it benefits all, it should not matter. Building an inclusive workplace, an organisational environment that values diversity not just for the sake of appearances but for the competitive edge that comes with access to multiple perspectives would make a difference.

At DAN, we have developed an organisational culture that makes work-life balance not only an expectation but a reality. The managers are sensitized about situations and they are extremely supportive. We offer family-friendly benefits and encourage all employees to use them. We actively develop women as leaders. We send them for Women-centric leadership trainings to understand the skills that are required to grow. Sometimes, it is just about hearing them out, guiding them through, with our understanding, that little time we spare, matters!

It has not been easy for us either, but we all have had our mentors, our mixed experiences and the grit to go on.

Rubeena Singh

CEO, iProspect India

“In my 20 year old career, I have faced several challenging incidents which were overcame by a combination of good teamwork, skill and a bit of luck.”

Over my 20 year old career, I have faced several challenging incidents which were overcome by a combination of good teamwork, skill and a bit of luck.

One incident that comes to top of my mind pertains to my time at moneycontrol. I had just taken over as COO and business head and had identified the need for developing an integrated content marketing solution suite, that would be implemented across the network and not just on moneycontrol. The idea was good but had its own set of challenges - it had never been done before (a digital first solution – in the year 2012), lack faith in the idea, cross functional teaming across the network, alignment of vested interests and priorities to those of the client and selling the concept to the client, in this case a large global Healthcare Major.

Against this background, my team and I worked for weeks and were eventually able to get this off the ground in a satisfactory manner. Client was happy and achieved the desired results and we had to ourselves a template for implementation of a B2B solution.

What makes this incident special was that it was one of the major leadership challenges I had faced, one where I had to not just lead my team but also win the conviction and belief of my peers in the organisation and also the client, who liked the idea but had lots of doubts regarding our ability to pull it off in an integrated manner and delivering the outcome. This experience taught me new things about people management.

I feel humbled to advise the fantastic women out there that are working hard on their journey towards becoming leaders. Rather than advice, I feel better framing this response as sharing what has worked for me:
1) Clarity of thought on what you want - professionally as well personally. Every decision has tradeoffs. If you want a great career, there will be tradeoffs, on free time, family time etc. Be clear on what you want and what you are ready to do to get it.

2) Don't be guilty about what you have decided - be it having a rocking career or be it lots of family time. Lots of women who work end up feel guilty about family time sacrificed etc. Don't do that - I try not to. Be happy with your choices - coz it's only when you are happy can you make others happy. There is no need to sacrifice self-fulfillment.

3) Show appreciation to family and the support Infrastructure that allows you to pursue your dreams. Be it your spouses, family members, domestic help, school, etc. They all have a role to play in the upbringing of our children, more so when we are away at work. Never take this support Infrastructure for granted.

Heeru Dingra

CEO, WATConsult

“Rather than pitting women and men against each other, we must recognize, respect and embrace that both, men and women bring complementary skills to the table.”

I’m a Woman. What’s your Super Power?

Should men and women be compared at all times? Is it necessary to downplay the strengths of one, to play up the strengths of the other? Why is the average salary of men a benchmark for women? What if men made less money than women regardless of their education and experience level?

Yes, there’s a gender imbalance in the workplace, particularly across leadership roles, but this imbalance shouldn’t define women or anyone for that matter. Women and men are different in many core ways, grounded in their neurobiology and their cultural training. They bring distinct skills and perspectives to the workplace, including different attitudes to risks and collaboration. Rather than pitting them against each other, we must recognize, respect and embrace that both, men and women bring complementary skills to the table which, when nurtured and developed, can become a powerful and successful combination for any business.

Here is my humble contribution, the 6C’s to how women can combat gender equality issues at workplace:
Celebrate yourself: People wrongly assume women need a tough-as-nails attitude to get ahead, especially in male-dominated environments. Emotion, passion and compassion are valuable assets, not something to be ignored or hidden. Celebrate yourself and revel in your exceptional strengths. Be you, and not a version of yourself. Master how to declare your voice to the world and walk in your light. Be your own cheerleader! Women who advance are aware of their weaknesses but even more aware of their strengths. Know that you are precious and invaluable - from the crown of your head to the soles of your feet.

Chase quality over quantity of time: Since time immemorial, women have been considered the nurturing gender, caught in the middle with life split into two parts - where she feels she should be and where society says she should be. Because she plays so many roles, she is often guilty of not doing them well enough. There are work-life choices and they have consequences. There’s nothing wrong in acknowledging that you can’t do everything on your own and a little help could ease your enormous workload. Be truly present in whatever place you find yourself, and tune in fully to the people who are with you - whether employees, colleagues, customers, or your loved ones at home.

Credit yourself: The first person who needs to become more comfortable with your achievements is YOU. Many women intuitively embrace the idea that good leadership includes humility. If you think you deserve more, don’t shy away from asking - be it promotion, higher pay or better role. Women must know that giving themselves credit and receiving praise for their achievements and the achievements of their team is not a sign of pomposity. When you step out from fear and self-limiting beliefs that say you cannot credit yourself for your accomplishments, you will gain confidence – the confidence you need to innovate and lead.

Collaborate to accelerate: Even though women are generally strong collaborators and communicators, we tend to have fewer business-related connections than men. We are painfully shy of networking from fear of being judged or perceived as opportunistic, or even weak. But to be successful, we must be intentional about the way we network. It’s not enough to simply be sociable if our goal is to have a seat at the table where your ideas can be heard. We need to put some time into building these work relationships, just like we do all the other relationships in our lives. We must engage and collaborate with other fellow women, share our experiences and mentor the young minds. Women supporting other women is key to more women succeeding in business, particularly in leadership roles.

Conquer your fears: Success is found outside of one's comfort zone but is often hindered by the fear of the unknown. The best way to overcome fear is to acknowledge it: - deal with it. And don’t just deal with it— rather open your arms and welcome it as your old friend. If you're too rigid, you could miss one of those serendipitous "aha" moments that could inspire a creative solution or force a different approach. Women viewed as successful leaders are constantly stepping outside of their comfort zone. They are not afraid to take risky decisions, as they understand that it is crucial to the growth and development of an organization. Don’t be afraid to fall. Be comfortable being uncomfortable.

Challenge yourself: Society’s misguided perceptions and expectations is what makes many women fear ambition. Being ambitious is often painted as an unattractive and undesirable trait. But that’s so untrue. Ambition is about knowing your value and asserting it. If you want to rise to your full potential, seek out challenges that’ll help you grow. Be brave. Be bold. Go after your dreams. Hold your head high and don’t apologize for ambition or success.

Gender shouldn’t be a factor in whether or not a person can be a great leader — a person’s leadership abilities should depend on their strengths and personality traits.

Priyanka Agrawal

Co-Founder, COO & Chief Strategy Officer, Fractal Ink

“We are observing more and more extremely competent women professionals coming into the workforce who are extremely driven.”

Organizational hazards for women

At Fractal Ink, we have a 60:40 female to male ratio, and we are incredibly proud of it. It is not that we are biased and hire more women because both the genders have to go through rigorous recruitment and interview processes to get placed at Fractal Ink. In general, we are observing more and more extremely competent women professionals coming into the workforce who are extremely driven. One can, therefore, assume that it would be the same for other industries as well.

Which raises questions like:

If so many women are entering the workforce, why are they not reaching the top?
Are companies not able to nurture and keep women motivated?
Are there external factors that affect their growth path?

Or some harsh questions such as:

Do they get settled pretty soon and lose focus on career growth?
Do they have enough professional backbone to stand up to their families to make the right professional choices?

Some of these harsh questions will need a more significant movement to be able to find a solution. In the meantime, let’s focus on where companies go wrong and what can they do to facilitate more women leadership.

1. Organizations suffer from a “CLUSTERING ILLUSION”

Hiring/ promotion process erroneously over-estimates the knowledge of the past patterns and base their decisions on them, e.g. A large number of women have to leave early from work because they have to maintain a work-life balance or, quite a few women can’t travel for a longer time for projects after marriage. Hence, the management presume the same for all women and prefer not to waste their time. A lot of women lose opportunities because of this pre-decided mindset.

We as leaders need to ask more fundamental questions such as, why do we need more than 8-9 hours of work in a day? Do men not need a work-life balance? Are people spending unproductive working hours during the day, so they can show they are working hard by sitting late?

Also, there would be some women who refuse to take on certain responsibilities depending on their family situation. Managers should motivate them to look at the larger picture and lay out what they would be missing if they let these opportunities go. Still, if they can’t, they shouldn’t generalise the situation and hold this against other women by not presenting such opportunities to the deserving ones.

2. Male leadership suffers from “SOCIAL PROMOTION SYNDROME”

Most promotions at higher level happen at the back of the mind in social scenarios/ casual drinks, and women take a big hit in this department.

In a lot of male-dominated organisations, men use casual abusive language as a part of the daily conversations. Female presence, for them, means they need to be careful in their choice of words and that makes them uncomfortable. So, if they have to choose between two equally competent man or woman, the obvious choice becomes a male. Also, after work get together or casual conversations, which most women end up not going to for several reasons becomes a roadblock for them coming in the consideration set for promotions.

3. “OVER-SOFTENED ATTITUDE” towards women reinforces gender biases

How many times when we think about working women, their issues, we think of the below:
     1. Flexible working hours
     2. Work from home when required
     3. Setting different outcome standards for men and women

This special treatment can be counterproductive. It reinforces capabilities and commitment gaps between the genders. If a company is productivity-focused, it can extend these benefits to men as well. If the rule sets for both genders are different, the outcomes and promotions will automatically be different.

All these opinions and views are a combination of thoughts collated from a lot of strong women at Fractal Ink. Women, who believe that nothing or no one can come in the way of their achieving excellence. I am proud and honoured to be associated with them and learning new things every day. When I started working in 1999, the challenges were very different from what they are today. As leaders, we need to get into regular ‘reverse mentoring’ sessions to understand their point of views and facilitate their growth in whatever way we can. I hope I can do right to them every day.

Thank you, power-force of Fractal Ink. Let us be the wind beneath your wings!

Geeta Suthar

Co-Founder, COO & CBO, Fractal Ink

“These are a very small representation of the ways in which patriarchy has affected the belief system of women and gives one perspective to why there are not enough women in the board room.”

The dis-service that women do themselves.

When it comes to issues regarding women, some of the top topics that come to mind are harassment, the glass ceiling, equal pay, equal representation in the board room and more of that ilk. A little-noticed and lesser-discussed issue that afflicts us as a gender, and what I believe is almost all-pervasive is – how centuries of patriarchy have affected us, women, at a subliminal level.

Generations of women have been told explicitly and implicitly that they come second to men, that thinking about themselves, their happiness, is not the mark of an ideal woman, so much that these beliefs now seem to be genetically encoded in us! It amounts to the fact that women don’t inherently believe that they deserve everything that a man does; and if they don’t have that deep-rooted belief, how can they aim for the same levels of recognition and success as their male counterparts?

It is enraging to hear a bright young member of my team, who has the intelligence and talent to grow into a leader, say that her family does not like women to work. She says that she used to be very ambitious before she got married but has had to dial back her dreams to suit her family’s ideals of what their daughter-in-law should be. She is thankful to be ‘allowed’ to work and is now clearly punching below her weight. What is sad is that she seems to see nothing very wrong in the situation.

Over the years, I have come across several instances, where female members of my team say that they put in a full day’s work in the office and then go home to cook and clean – by themselves and with no help from other family members. It does not occur to them to expect equal contribution to household chores from their husbands. These girls are resigned to the situation and what is worse, believe that this is the way it has to be.

One of the worst instances of the lack of self-worth I have come across in recent times is a conversation I had with a pretty senior member of my team. She was deeply appreciative of her in-laws which is quite the change from the norm. But what she was appreciative of, was shocking to me. She has a number of health issues and was thankful that her in-laws are not abusive because of these afflictions. How is someone who comes across as very mature and is great at handling client crises, not able to see that she deserves love and care in this situation and should not be happy by the lack of abuse?

These are a very small representation of how patriarchy has affected the belief system of women and gives one perspective to why there are not enough women in the board room. Why do girls value themselves so little? Why do they not stop to think that they deserve better? While organizations invest heavily in training women leaders, who already know how to fight and win battles, I wonder why is there no conversation about teaching young school-going girls that they can put themselves first sometimes? That they deserve happiness?

Sunaina Jairath

Director, Perfect Relations

“As women juggle multiple roles and responsibilities, it is important to understand the need for self-care. Guilt is I think a woman's constant companion – something we need to give up.”

As a working woman, I think every day of your life has testing moments! However, in context of the professional road traversed so far, there have been instances where clients have been dissatisfied with the services and in such cases instances of making excuses, it is important to step up, own up to the gaps and prepare for course correction. Your team needs to see that as their leader you don’t shirk away from taking responsibility for missteps and prepare for correction.

I personally believe women need to get over the SuperWoman & Martyr syndrome. It is ok to take help and invest in self-care. As we juggle multiple roles and responsibilities, it is important to understand the need for self-care. Guilt is I think a woman's constant companion – something we need to give up. Invest in a hobby, take some time even if it is 30mins for yourself – go for a walk, read, watch something – it is important to switch off. Personally, I don’t shy away from taking help from extended friends and families and my 1-hour at the gym is usually non-negotiable.

Anupama Ramaswamy

National Creative Director, Dentsu Impact

“I think real achievement is best measured with growth, where you grow as a person, your brands grow beyond the market metrics and you embed people you work with higher values.”

There is a traditional way to write achievements, which are professional victories. But I think real achievement is best measured with growth, where you grow as a person, your brands grow beyond the market metrics and you embed people you work with higher values. While all the brands that I work with have been a joy to work but I take special satisfaction in the work for Maruti Suzuki. An industry that has been seen as a male bastion, based on the assumption that only men love and appreciate machines, there was a special joy in busting that myth and glass ceiling. Who works, who understands, even who drives were all defined in a unidimensional manner. It was a journey, where one had to bring about a change by removing one brick at a time. Today if you compare ads of the brand you will feel that growth. While this belief was personal, but this change was collective. We all grew together.

There is the unconscious bias around us, about what brands women should associate with, for example, fashion, food, kitchen or stuff for the home. But I believe we as women are the only ones who can overcome this. There are no rules on success but if you believe that you will succeed, there is a greater chance you will.

Most women believe that they need to choose between their profession or career and home and personal life. I believe their individual biases stop them from dreaming big or taking chances. My advice to them is to make that move, take your chance, the worst that can happen is that you may fail. Either way, you will learn something. Either, what one should do or what one should not. But before anything else, believe that you will succeed. And in that, if anyone calls you aggressive so be it. Take it with a smile, and say you love being that. Instead of highlighting how hard it is to be a woman in advertising, share about your love for the work and business. When we love our work, I doubt we would think about work-life balance.

Pallavi Chakravarti

Executive Creative Director, Taproot Dentsu

“If people are given equal opportunities, then more women will automatically go on to assume leadership roles as the years roll by.”

So, why do women drop out of the workforce in the first place? I would say the single biggest reason for most of us taking breaks is if and when we choose to have kids. Childbirth is still a woman’s job - and it’s likely to stay that way. It’s somehow never quite the same after that.

“You’ve been out of the scene way too long - you can’t expect the salary that you do after the kind of leave you’ve taken - but won’t your attention be divided now?” These are just some of the things women hear when they are seeking to make their way back into the workforce, post a long gap. Of course, this is not a blanket statement - times are changing, mindsets are changing, as are corporate policies. But if companies truly want to be gender-neutral then statements and questions like the ones I’ve cited above would never be heard again. Additionally, flexible working hours, working from home, working on time-bound projects are all steps that more and more organisations can adopt to ensure equal opportunities. And when I say equal, I mean that these options should be made available to men and women, both.

Of course, this can only guarantee the retention of women in the workforce - which is a giant step in itself. It doesn’t guarantee the creation of “women leaders”. I think we should stop looking at people as “women leaders” because we don’t look at people as “men leaders” either. If people are given equal opportunities, then more women will automatically go on to assume leadership roles as the years roll by. It’s exactly how it works with the guys. Some of them go on to become leaders, others don’t. What companies can do is ensure that everyone is in the race, all the way.

Ayesha Ghosh

General Manager, Taproot Dentsu

“It is incumbent for agencies to make the work environment conducive for women. Younger women need to see older women in positions of influence.”

It is incumbent for agencies to make the work environment conducive for women. Younger women need to see older women in positions of influence. Some are sceptical about enforcing gender diversity. Even if agencies choose to not enforce diversity, they should make sure there are no boys’ clubs. Fortunately, diversity and inclusiveness are now considered woke and agencies, by and large, are much less the boys’ clubs they used to be.

Flexible working hours and working from home might be a challenge in an industry that’s made a virtue of unreasonable working hours but we ought to be non-negotiable about starting early, cutting idle chatter, short lunch breaks and everything else that helps finish work early so that parents (and everyone else, really!) get to spend some time with their families.

Ingraining fundamental values will go a much longer way than making token gestures. Enforcing paternity leave, for instance, so that the onus of child-rearing is not on the mother alone. When a parent, regardless of gender is expected to manage time such that they are responsible for their work as well as for their families, everyone will automatically spend less time on idle chatter and work a lot more efficiently.

Aakriti Sinha

National Head, Social Media, Isobar India

“I suggest this and follow this myself – times are changing, but we can’t afford to spend our precious energy and mind-space on individuals/ groups who judge, are biased or constantly try and prove our skills and worth. Keep your work, learning and your goals above everything.”

With social media, new and unexpected challenges come in any and every form every day. Challenging and exciting nonetheless. From meeting crazy timelines, to execution, to those last minute “changes” in the presentation, to battling out the negative sentiments to people challenges etc.

There are many unforgettable moments that I can recall at work, but the biggest struggle has come in the personal form. To overcome personal medical challenges (fight with depression) and let your energy be utilized for the work that you always wanted to shine through irrespective.

From a stage of denial to seeking help to a strict regime of self-care, and maintaining the individual and team’s performance at work is a challenge that no one is trained for and nothing can prepare you for it. It is not a disease that is visible for others to understand or a lifestyle change that can be cured with popping pills.

Demotivation, mental health which is still a taboo, reflects in your behavior, attitude, the performance needed to be dealt with. The big step was to be open about it with your team, seniors and anyone who is ready to accept and understand. You never know where does support, encouraging words come from that help your battle a bit easier.

But eventually self-care, leading to self-motivation and team-motivation for the desired outcome at work has been the greatest difficulty that I have overcome and those have been testing times.But hey! We did win key businesses during this period and got to work with some great people, evolved and learned in the process. Things that matter!

“Woman Leader” might not be a term I agree with principally, I believe a leader, is a leader – irrespective of the gender. But yes, no denying that it is not easy to for women in this industry, it is a little more hard-work and a lot more patience is required and more often than not, we do walk around the eggshells and feel guilty about not being good at work-life balance.

I suggest this and follow this myself – times are changing, but we can’t afford to spend our precious energy and mind-space on individuals/ groups who judge, are biased or constantly try and prove our skills and worth. Keep your work, learning and your goals above everything. Embrace the chaos, try and thrive in it (these are not easy and confusing times and if it is difficult for you, chances are it is equally difficult for the other guy or woman as well).

Be more vocal about your thoughts, be transparent and honest and always stay-true-to-your-work and your support system.

Pragati Rana

AVP, Strategy, Dentsu Webchutney

“We have moved a bit but not moved further enough. Though there are brands that have quite an evolved representation of women compared to what we saw ten years ago, there are some categories that are still stuck in a quintessential traditional way of representing women as a homemaker, especially the food category which I think needs to evolve.”

Click here to watch the video.

Siddhi Dholakia

New Business Director, C Lab

“All that you see which is human work on this planet, first found expression in the mind, then got manifested in the outside world. So if we are concerned about what we create in our lives, it is extremely important that we create the right things in our minds vividly and clearly. If we do not have the power to keep our minds the way we want, what we create in the world will also be very accidental and haphazard.”

Professionally, we are in a so-called male dominated space. Women have to work twice as hard, juggle many roles to prove herself & make revenues for the organization. As a woman you are constantly being empathetic to all parties & being creative in closing every deal in a unique way. Both personal & professional struggles goes hand in hand. Personally, a challenging period I look back at with pride is when my baby boy was 5 months old and it was time to return to work. The daily travel time was 3 hours. I was feeding, pumping & feeling extremely exhausted. It took enormous effort to get up early, manage all the chores, say goodbye to my baby boy & just get to my desk.

In one particular instance, there were tight deadlines of 7 days from initiation to execution on an IPL association that required to take a flight to Delhi in the 8th month of pregnancy. Not only did the campaign do well but also exceeded client expectations. Not only was it a very tough moment for me but also the most memorable. This kind of balanced fighting spirit rubs on to everyone in the team. Employees learn to support each other. Everyone learns to stay in the moment and focus on what is in front.

My advice for aspiring women leaders of the industry, not just in creative departments but all over would be to invest in your mind. All that you see which is human work on this planet, first found expression in the mind. Then got manifested in the outside world. So if we are concerned about what we create in our lives, it is extremely important that we create the right things in our minds vividly and clearly. If we do not have the power to keep our minds the way we want, what we create in the world will also be very accidental and haphazard.

From my personal experience, I found yoga and meditation really helpful & energizing in my life. It helped me accomplish big & small goals. For this you to need first write down your professional, personal & learning goals. It gives clarity of thought. A clouded mind with no direction is a miserable situation.

Lekshmi Krishnan

New Business Director, InDeed

“Make your own rules. This is something I truly subscribe to, both in my professional and personal life. Whether business or parenting, when facing new and uncharted areas, the best way to navigate is often to create your own way. Use your own past experience (whatever field it be), trust your instincts, and forge your own path.”

A moment of success that I remember with great pride is when, during the stint at my previous organization, the client personally called me to convey that they had decided to award - what was arguably the largest CSR drinking water project in the country and probably the world - to us. While I was the lead for the project, I was representing the David in the David & Goliath story - a young, lightly-staffed organization, competing with a hundred other companies, including well established giants. In the end, we surprised everyone, including ourselves. There were many occasions during the difficult and rigorous selection process (that lasted over six months) and the subsequent execution phase when I felt overwhelmed and despondent, but I was able to constantly re-instill conviction and belief in the team and my ‘nothing to lose so nothing to fear’ attitude kept them going. And the big learning for me from this episode was that if you aim for something big and really want it badly ...you will make it happen!

Advice I would like to share with aspiring women leaders of the industry is about having strong personal qualities, and how they empower your own ability to deal with new challenges.

One, personal integrity, honesty and commitment are highly valued qualities and clients will choose to work with you if they have faith in you as an individual...no matter how small or young your organization. This has been especially true for me at Indeed, a relatively young division within Dentsu Aegis Network.

Two, make your own rules. This is something I truly subscribe to, both in my professional and personal life. I’ve been fortunate to have traversed multiple and diverse fields, from consumer market research to development sector implementation to CSR advisory & consulting. Whether business or parenting, when facing new and uncharted areas, the best way to navigate is often to create your own way. Use your own past experience (whatever field it be), trust your instincts, and forge your own path.


As published in Business Insider and Medianews4u.