A leader has to empower others & lead by example: Ruby Sinha
In today’s edition of ‘Women Achievers 2022’ series, Sinha, Founder & MD, Kommune Brand Communications, talks about the challenges she faced as an entrepreneur and more
Celebrating the contributions of women in the PR sector, exchange4media PR & Corp Comm is running a 'Women Achievers Series'. It will feature the journey, success and achievements of some of the top women leaders from the Public Relations and Corporate Communications fraternity as well as emerging women leaders of the industry.
Today’s series features Ruby Sinha, Founder and Managing Director, Kommune Brand Communications. A well-versed communications professional and entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience in working closely with brands across different verticals and geographies, she started Kommune Brand Communications in 2012 after holding senior positions in 20:20 MSL (Branch Director- Consumer Practice) and GCI- Grey Global Group (WPP Network as Director- North India).
Kommune is today ranked amongst the top 25 PR firms in India and has been adjudged as a specialist agency in the APAC region for Technology/Telecom sector by the Holmes Report. Experiencing the challenges faced by women entrepreneurs, she founded www.sheatwork.com, a one-stop -knowledge hub for women entrepreneurs globally.
Excerpts from the interview:
Now that the industry is opening up workplaces and resuming operations from the office, what are the initiatives, measures and precautions that should be adapted/ taken to ensure a smooth transition?
It is heartening to see people eager to come back to work but we have to remember that uncertainty is far from over. While opening the workplace, offices need to work out a staggered workplace return policy to keep risk at minimum. Sanitisation processes at the workplace and ensuring social distancing measures are important. During the pandemic, many colleagues have suffered personal losses or major health issues and we need to be empathetic towards individual needs for creating a happier workplace. Over the last two years, clients have also seen the benefits of technology for conducting virtual meetings etc and I seriously hope that they remain conscious of the same in the new normal since it reduces commuting time as well as ensures safety for the team in these uncertain times. Also, during the pandemic with people working from home, work hours used to stretch to late evenings but hopefully things will come back to more regular office timings now.
The last 20 months have been trying for every professional, especially with the hybrid working model. How did you strike a balance between office work and household duties?
The pandemic surely was learning in many ways. I have always believed in work-life integration. Our personal and professional lives have to co-exist in today’s digital age. The pandemic has been a step forward in that direction. Of course, it had its set of challenges as work hours could stretch indefinitely since you are working from home but it did have its positives also. One positive aspect was that we as a family got to spend so much time together which is a luxury for a working mother like me. Even though all of us were busy with our work lives or in the case of children with their online classes, just knowing that you were in close quarters of each other was such a welcome feeling. I have noticed that every individual even in the team has managed to carve a nice balance between office and household work and it has really impressed me how accountable and responsible the team was even working remotely.
Women have been carving a niche for themselves and paving the way in the communications industry for the next generation of women leaders to follow. Tell us about your achievements and your contribution to the fraternity.
Interestingly, the initial team at Kommune was largely a group of work-from-home mothers. I have always felt that working from home, especially for moms in sabbatical, can be a reality. And now hybrid working is the new normal.
After becoming an entrepreneur, I experienced the challenges most entrepreneurs - especially women - face in their entrepreneurship journey. This motivated me to launch sheatwork.com, a one-stop-knowledge portal for women entrepreneurs. I am also the Convenor of the Women’s Vertical of BRICS CCI, which is working closely with women entrepreneurs across geographies.
I hope the journey of women entrepreneurs like me in the communication industry will motivate more women to start their own communication ventures focusing on quality work and being job-creators instead of jobseekers. It is a challenging journey being an entrepreneur but definitely a very fruitful one.
What are the roadblocks that you have had to overcome to reach where you are today? What, according to you, are the makings of a leader?
I am reminded of the quote, “The hardest walk is to walk alone, but it is also the walk that makes you the strongest.” It is definitely not an easy journey for independent firms like us. And entrepreneurship is not an easy ride, as any entrepreneur can tell you. Budgets and cash flow management are always a challenge. Hiring and retaining the right talent is another challenge. Maintaining our focus on being particular about the clients we wanted to work with and ensuring senior level engagement with the client instead of just focussing on number of clients has been a challenge but worth the effort. Creating a work-place empathetic towards working mothers has also had its set of challenges.
I believe a leader, especially in our business, has to be a team player, empowering others and leading by example. I also believe in creating an organisation which is transparent, fair, compassionate and lets people work with their self-respect and dignity.
What would be your advice to the young generation?
The younger generation of communication professionals are very passionate and smart. In fact, I keep on learning a lot from them. My advice to them is to remember that even in this age of technology, the trust established through human to human connect remain very important for a PR/communications professional. Also, when you enter the profession, the day-to-day tasks like preparing news summaries, coverage reports, etc may seem very mundane but remember these are the stepping stones to mastering complex skills, which will help you move ahead. Also, learn to be a team player. And finally, be focused, work hard and work smart!
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