For success in PR & Corp Comm, be collaborative, open to learning, credible and creative

Bhavna Singh, Senior Director - Communications & Patient Advocacy, OPPI, was recently recognized as 'Mentor of the Year' at the e4m PR & Corp Comm Women Achievers Awards 2020

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Sep 9, 2020 9:33 AM

A believer of the phrase, ‘lot can happen over conversations and coffee,’ Bhavna Singh, Senior Director - Communications & Patient Advocacy at Organisation of Pharmaceutical Producers of India (OPPI), chose communications as a profession because of her love to listen and talk. She was recently recognized as 'Mentor of the Year' at the e4m PR & Corp Comm Women Achievers Awards 2020.

Singh is a communication professional with two decades of experience in Corporate Communications, Advertising & Brand Management and Financial PR. She has diverse experience across various industries, including Service, Entertainment, IT, FMCG, Automobile, Engineering and now Pharmaceuticals. With a strong communication repertoire built across years of working, Singh is a trusted name with brands and corporate.

In today’s feature, we speak to Bhavna Singh on her win, female leadership, changes in the PR industry, future goals and more.


How do you feel being the winner of the Women Achievers initiative?

Let me start by thanking the e4m team – Dr Annurag Batra, Mr Nawal Ahuja and Mr Karan Bhatia- for rolling out the first edition of the Women Achievers Awards 2020.  I feel humbled on winning the 'Mentor of the Year' in Corporate Communications in this very first edition.  Every recognition is special and this one is even more special because it comes at a very special time in my career.  I have just completed two decades of learning as a corporate communications professional and this recognition is indeed very humbling.
The award also brings with it a sense of responsibility and accountability.  Many youngsters have several apprehensions about their career choice, but I believe that if you love to read, enjoy writing and have a willingness to learn and work hard, corporate communications is gratifying and rewarding.

What are the attributes/qualities required to be a leader in the communication industry?

The PR and communications business has been evolving.  It is no longer just media relations; it is much more - curating creative content, recommending digital solutions to our stakeholders, providing guidance on public affairs, CSR and crisis management. It is no longer just a brief, but getting a seat on the table, understanding business opportunities and co-creating a solution that delivers a tangible impact for the business. 

Be Collaborative: Communication begins with collaboration.  As a communications professional, we need to work with several stakeholders within and outside of our organisations. Being able to drive such conversations, being heard, being able to agree to disagree in a respectful manner, opens one’s mind to new learnings and new ways of doing things. 

Be open to learning: We need to be learning all the time, always being at the cutting edge of innovation and technology. It is important to always be looking for trends and trying to stay ahead of the curve. It is important to have a network of people you can learn from and exchange opinions.

Be credible: Earn the respect of your stakeholders. Be authentic, be credible.  And finally,

Be Creative: The spirit of trying new ideas without worrying about success and failure.  I always remind myself and the people around me to be creative.  I am a firm believer that we get the basics right, there is little scope of going wrong!

What role have women played in the restructuring of the industry, and how has the communications industry changed over the years for the women workforce?

Clearly women in communications are first amongst equals. These are great times for women in PR and marketing. Women have the opportunity to be the driving force and take leadership positions. Companies are recognizing and promoting individuals based on their talent and communication and professional skills, instead of gender.
Nothing is more inspiring than seeing how women in the communications industry are pioneering, willing to take risks and continue to remain supportive of one another.  I am a firm believer in the power of mentorship. During my journey I have had some very powerful women guiding me, both personally and professionally. Now, it is my professional responsibility to empower and guide the next generation of women in PR. A mentor can serve as a sounding board and help avoid pitfalls from the impostor syndrome.

Why do we need to have more leaders at the helm of organizations in today's scenario and what value women bring to the table?

Women on boards cannot just remain a tick in the box!  Companies are waking up to the fact that women in executive positions is good not only for diverse thinking and balanced leadership, it is actually good for the bottom line of the company. The belief that having a woman on the board adds value needs more PR!
In my opinion, it becomes tougher for women to get that coveted corner office because of two reasons: Women prefer to sit on the sidelines rather than at the table. Many women feel that they don’t deserve their success.  As women leaders, we need to be driven by success and not shy away from owning it & women are apprehensive about real partnerships.  Real partnerships are those that help us succeed.  At home, we need support from our partners and they need to be a part of our success journey.

What are your future goals? What initiative would you like to take as a responsible woman leader for the industry/society?

I love to write stories for kids.  My first book Story Express was fun. I want to write some more memorable stories for children.   
As a professional, I want to continue my journey of learning and giving my best to my work place. 
As a responsible woman leader, I would like to encourage the mid-level women professionals to get back to their work stream. I believe it is the post maternity ramp-on that is still not fully functional to motivate women to get back and stay on at work. Here, there are invisible barriers; stereotyping of new mothers, work life integration, and above all, self-inflicted mothers’ guilt. 
It is about managing to find that sweet spot where purpose, passion and prioritisation converge.  Here, mentors and women role models are a great crutch and inspiration when you struggle to get back on.  One of my favorite quotes is from Tom Peters: “True leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.”

How do you see the PR and the corp comm industry shaping up in the years to come and your message to the future women leaders?

In my two decades of career, I  have made some bold decisions. I have been purely based my decisions on whether the job can offer me new learning and if these opportunities were unexplored and relatively new, for it to be challenging enough for me.  And this is my message to all the young women who have made communications their preferred career choice and are the future leaders–If you have a  goal, go after it. All you need is skill and practice.

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