Be ordinary but rebuild with meaningful momentum: Pooja Trehan

In today’s edition of ‘Women Achievers 2022’ series, Trehan, Director, Marketing Communications, SugarBox Networks, shares her advice for young communication professionals

e4m by Shrabasti Mallik
Published: Mar 22, 2022 1:23 PM  | 6 min read

Celebrating the contributions of women in the PR sector, exchange4media PR & Corp Comm is running a 'Women Achievers Series'. It features the journey, success, and achievements of some of the top women leaders from the Public Relations and Corporate Communications fraternity.

Today’s series features Pooja Trehan, Director, Marketing Communications, SugarBox Networks. Trehan comes with over 16 years of experience in the field of Communications and has previously worked with such reputed names as Colgate-Palmolive, Castrol India, Bennett & Coleman and Genesis BCW. She also successfully ran her own venture – PRestaurants – a specialised consultancy for F&B brands.

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?

We are all returning to what was called ‘normal’ life for decades. So, this transition should not be as tough as we make it out to be. However, what’s essential is to stay mindful of the hardships these last two years have bestowed upon the planet, and thus, be careful about our personal safety, continue to invest in our health, be kind to ourselves and others around us, stay cautious (sanitise, wear a mask), don’t burnout (revenge work) and lastly bring back the joy of meeting people! Many understand that the transition will be slow, hence companies are beginning with hybrid work options that are partly remote so as to give enough heads up to head to physical office. Similarly, the focus on being future-forward for productive deliverables has been a conscious decision of all the managers.

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?

How we dealt with this ‘pandemic era’ has been written about more than we ever expected to. Surprisingly, for once, everybody had to find their customised solutions to deal with the aftermath that this virus caused. So, it’s tricky when someone says that they managed home and work balance. Because, for most part of the year, all of us were struggling to find solutions and dealing with much more than just work and home pressures. It was eventually all about acceptance to change, being honest about our capabilities, not participating in a rat race anymore and being aware to walk through our own journey. And this is what balance meant for me.

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.

Awards and recognition are the north star benchmarks for all of us to realise and learn that we are moving in the direction of growth. And I’m thankful to the industry for acknowledging my efforts across all my roles – PR agency, Corporate Communications, my entrepreneurial venture PRestaurants and now at SugarBox Networks. These recognitions and decades spent in the communications industry have on crystal clear messaging emphasised on – never stop learning and keep upskilling! Keeping that in mind, my contributions back to the industry have been focused on how one should bridge the gap of theoretical and practical knowledge. This is crucial for an industry that has to keep evolving faster than change. And thus, my associations with PRPOI (Public Relations Professionals of India), WICCI PR and Digital.

With PRPOI, our (of the founders) focus is to create a knowledge repository to upskill, by learning from the veterans within the industry. This naturally creates a pool of mentors for professionals growing within or just joining the communications ecosystem. We have also been the pioneers in introducing the concept of #PRforPR that is to create visibility for behind-the-scenes storytellers and build effective content marketing across various social media platforms.

At WICCI council, the focus of the immensely talented team is to evaluate how best we could create opportunities for women professionals to grow in this fraternity. Apart from extending opportunities through mentoring, the council has chartered various programmes to highlight problems that exist and solutions that could lessen those concerns.

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?

Stereotypes. Bias. Unconscious Bias. Deep-rooted culture. These are not mere words but behaviours that continue to co-exist even today. We don’t need to delve anymore on why and how these exist, but the fact that any change to happen even today, still takes the effort of more than a village or tribe. And these have been the typical roadblocks throughout personal and professional growth. Even today, being a woman, the barrage of barriers to be fought are no less, especially when one challenges the status quo to be part of the “big boys club”. Fortunately, these were endured along with the guidance of mentors and great teammates (internal and external). But the realisation that this is far from over and hardships should be looked like new opportunities, is what separates a leader from the herd. The higher up you walk, although clearer the view, it’s also a platform for the universe to judge you on invisible scorecards. So, stay humble, sit out the storms and always gear up to perform the best. Keep repeating until you become pro-change!

What would be your advice to the young generation?

Adapt and grow, sustainably. Understand the talent that everyone brings to the table and evaluate which piece fits where. Keep your growth journey slow but focussed on basics and fundamentals. Never undermine the importance of collaborating with a team and learning from mentors early on in your career. Read and write. Yes, basics, but do them as often as you can. As communication professionals, be aware that the trick is more about dialogue, so choose apt words for your storytelling and your narrative will create an impact.

Remember relative speed? Just moving is not enough. You could be moving fast but things in the external environment would still be outpacing. Alternatively, your speed might be average, but yet outpacing the external environment. So, it is important to be mindful of how you are pacing with real-time changes.

People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it and what you do simply proves what you believe – Simon Sinek.

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