Through their eyes: The changing role of women in media & marketing industry

On International Women's Day, business leaders tell us how the role of women has changed over the last decade, the challenges women face in the professional space and more.

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Mar 8, 2019 9:12 AM

The women of New India are making their presence felt. They are fighting odds, braving gender bias and creating a space for themselves in the world, including the marketing & media industry.

While there are several woman business leaders around us today who have taken the mantle and are walking the road less travelled, there is a feeling that not enough has been done in this direction and much more needs to be done.

This International Women’s Day, exchange4media caught up with some women barons in the marketing & media industry to understand how the role of women has changed in the last one decade, the daunting challenges women face in the professional space, and the dos & don’ts for a woman to establish herself in the industry.            .

Take a look at the beautiful views that these beautiful women shared with us.


Neelima Burra, Country Marketing Director, HP Inc India 

I believe that over the past decade, the media industry has undergone major transformations; from being traditional to digital to becoming omni-channel. We have women taking the front seat in all spheres. In the media and marketing industry too, we have noticed that there is an increasing representation of women in the top management. Today, the industry enjoys an all-inclusive culture that celebrates skillsets and experience over gender parity. At HP, our marketing team comprises 61 per cent women and the number is growing.


Mariam Mathew, Chief Executive Officer, Manorama Online

I believe that the contribution of women has been significant to the development of media in the past decade. Women have assumed different roles crossing several barriers. It’s true that more men occupy top media management positions, but over the past few years, I have seen women from different backgrounds breaking gender stereotypes and scaling up to the decision-making level.

Within our organisation at MM, I have seen women steadily climbing the career ladder. In all our media divisions, whether Digital, TV, Radio or Print, we are now seeing more and more women who are leading the way.

Sonia Khurana, Senior Vice President & Customer Head, Ogilvy 

It’s the end of ‘The Barbie World’ in some ways. There is a change in the way women are portrayed in commercials and films. There is a willingness to speak up. There are many more positive women role models now. There is a developing sense of sisterhood. I can speak of my own company. There is an active conversation on diversity in Ogilvy. And a recognition of specific challenges of women through their life stages. Triggered by these discussions, among other things, we have recently introduced a mentoring programme for both the genders (why leave the good men out?!).


Sonia Huria Gupta, Head, Corporate Marketing, Communications & Sustainability, Viacom18 Media Private Limited

There has been an immense change in the role of women, especially in the media & entertainment industry. Women have been breaking stereotypes and norms across the fraternity. Right from being behind the screens to on screen, women have been shaping the way the industry is growing. These days, women don't really need someone backing their career graph. They have rather been drivers of their own success. Our industry definitely has a long list of women leaders who can take responsible for various accomplishments.

Rani Reddy, Director Sakshi Group

While the role does not change directly, the environment in which we operate is rapidly changing, both at work and home. Adapting to change sometimes is tedious. At times it’s also fun and satisfying to get a grip and solve complex problems

Deepti Pillay Sivan, Business Head, Zee Keralam

Yes, the outlook is changing. We are seeing a significant number of women coming into leadership roles. At ZEE, we have prolific women leaders driving key businesses and functions. The organisation believes in supporting the cause of gender diversity at workplace by treating its employees as partners and equal opportunities are provided to all, enabling greater growth prospects. However, across the industry there are instances of gaps which should surely be bridged.

Pallavi Chakravarti, Creative Executive Director, Taproot

One sees more women at the helm today than when I had joined the industry. That’s a welcome change. But I think it is this decade and not the one gone by that will see the real shift with respect to women in leadership roles. That’s because the conversations around the subject have only recently gained traction on a global scale. Hopefully, in the next 10-20 years, having an equal number of men and women in positions that matter will be the norm and not a trend or a phenomenon.

Vasuta Agarwal- VP & GM- India & South Asia-Inmobi

I have three suggestions on taking challenges head on. Firstly, accept high-risk challenges; I would urge all women to take risks early on in their career. Try different roles, find your strengths and evaluate what you are good at or enjoy. This is a critical step in making a mark in your professional journey. Secondly, be ambitious and assertive. Every woman should speak up her mind and be assertive about her point of view; what she wants to do, what her short-term and long-term goals and her ambitions are. And lastly, build a network of friends, family and co-workers who will be your support system through thick and thin. The support system provides you with mentors who will be your sounding board and advise you as you grow through your career.

Neena Das Gupta, CEO and Director, ZIRCA

The point is to balance all facets of life. I have always been honest with my kids about how much I love my work, and how it is an integral part of who I am. At the same time, they know that they are a priority for me at all times. I don’t work on weekends unless absolutely necessary. That is strictly family time. Given that I am not too social, I never have to struggle with choosing between a work party and home. But I am also blessed with an incredible husband who has been my greatest support and has always encouraged me to pursue my dreams.

Anuradha Gudur, Business Head, Zee Telugu, Zee Cinemalu & Zee Keralam

When it comes to balancing a career and home life, women are changing the landscape of businesses as we know it. However, things get difficult when there is a child involved or a parent who is ill. Having young children and not being available at all times only adds to the guilt. Women end up having to choose between family functions, school events, important meetings, crisis situations at work, family emergencies… the list is endless. What really helps is having a support system from the family. Women also face undue pressure from the society to create and run a perfect household. An understanding partner or a spouse or even a family member who pitches in for household chores will ease the stress a woman undergoes while juggling between families and holding a career. Furthermore, it is essential for companies to design their policies by keeping in mind the various social factors that affect a woman’s life. For example, having flexible hours, work from home options. These will not only help a woman’s day-to-day life but will also improve productivity.

Dhanya Rajendran, Editor-in-Chief, The Newsminute

In the last decade, more women are entering the media and entertainment industry and staying on to grow into positions of power. And it is important to have more women leaders in the industry. Hopefully, in another decade, we can say there is equal pay as well.


Rajshree Nambiar, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Fullerton India Credit Company Limited

While the world becomes more connected and unified and moves towards equal participation and interdependency, the phenomenon of women taking charge and contributing across various walks of life has become more pronounced.

Today, women have managed to break the traditional moulds and overcome barriers. They have made an impact in fields, such as sales, collections and analytics, which have so far witnessed better women representation. The people management skills of women are noteworthy and integral in helping them to stay connected with the workforce and build strong teams. Their soft skills such as interpersonal communication and empathy go a long way in building lasting relationships. A leader who fosters these skills is able to propel the organisation towards steady growth and success. Every organisation today realises this and is embracing diversity and inclusion as key to maintain distinctive competitive advantage. The companies are increasingly realising that maximising women’s productivity and creativity is a game changer and their skills and expertise remain essential to economic growth.

Bidisha Nagaraj, Vice President – Marketing, Schneider Electric India

The lens through which the millennials view life is diametrically opposite to the generation before. Today, an unshackled, free-spirited soul defines her world. She decides her path on her own terms. She has access to all the information in the world and is more diverse and risk-taking in her mindset while embracing change effortlessly.

 For aspiring women leaders, my suggestions are: 1) Focus on and demonstrate strengths and hone them rather than allowing yourself to be compared to your male colleagues as the other gender too brings in other unique strengths and skill sets. 2) Not hide the emotional quotient because that is the biggest value in addition to many others that a millennial woman brings to a company. 3) Use their skill sets to contribute to the organisation’s endeavour of increasing efficiency and productivity in the age of rapid digital transformation.

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