Need to bring diversity at workplace to benefit organisations: Sonia Huria, Viacom18
Huria, Head Corporate Marketing, Communication and Sustainability at Viacom18 says women should not be sorry to bring in a fresh perspective to the table
A young, energetic and vibrant female with a strong outlook towards communication and marketing, Sonia Huria is heading the Corporate Marketing, Communication and Sustainability at Viacom 18. Huria is paving the way for agile women with the aim to drive work in alignment with the company’s benefit and leading from the front.
With extremely early start in the industry, Huria has not only spearheaded the launch of some of the biggest shows known to Indian television audiences, but has also supervised sustenance of their interest by adopting innovation at every step on the way. An inspiration for the millennials, she is a woman to look out for in the industry.
In a chit chat with exchange4media, Sonia Huria described her journey in the industry, about being a strong working woman in the corporate world, her views on pay gaps in the industry and her message to the others aspiring women in the industry.
Elaborate on your journey in the communication industry. What are your major learnings?
When I started out as an associate at PR consultancy firms, more than a decade ago, I had the drive to make it big and with a thirst to always do more. My journey has been multi-layered, transitioning from being a part of the team that launched Viacom18’s flagship channel COLORS to now driving the network’s corporate marketing, communications and sustainability agenda across its 5 lines of businesses. So far, I have seen the media and entertainment industry evolve from being focussed on traditional media to now integrating communication across platforms.
My biggest learning has been that if you want to be more, you have to do more. One needs to go beyond the safe cocoon and take the plunge into challenging projects, thereby creating a learning graph. Sometimes you win and sometimes you gain experience is what I have learnt from my career.
What was the biggest turning point in your career? Any anecdote that you would want to share?
My career has seen many turning points. The first was when I was a part of the team that launched and nurtured COLORS – Viacom18’s flagship GEC channel which went on to become no. 1 in the first week. As I moved along my career, from handling one brand my role was augured to lead the communications portfolio for the entire network, taking charge of internal communications, creating and nurturing the sustainability portfolio, building a robust customer relationship management portfolio and the newest turning point has been leading the network marketing mandate.
An anecdote that I can think of is a transition of perception. Starting as a PR professional and then taking on the hat of a marketeer,I have seen many raised eyebrows (both of awe and snide). ButI have realised that in life its not people’s perception that matters but what you believe in.
How do you balance professional life and personal life?
I believe that the word ‘work-life’ balance is a farce. What we need to do is be present in our present. Work forms an important part of our life and so does our family and friends. But we ourselves deserve time for self-care and hence, we need to divide our time between all these three facets of our life. And more than the balancing act, we need to be present in each aspect of our when we are in it.
Have there been any instances of gender biases in your career? If yes, how did it impact you?
I have encountered biases in life because of the Y-chromosome. Whether it’s from extended family or the society, even in educated middle-class homes – a girl child’s education and career many a time takes a back seat if a choice is there between a girl and a boy. I am grateful that my parents, especially my father, has always supported my decisions, fought all social pressures and encouraged me to chase my aspirations. Professionally, I have been blessed with mentors and bosses who have never treated me different and given me opportunities only based on merit.
Is there a pay gap in the industry? If yes, what could be the major reason behind it?
Today, women leaders are definitely in the consideration set while making any business decisions. However, a lot remains to be done when it comes to bridging the gender pay parity. The existing disparity showcases the mindset that needs to be changed and it needs to start at the grass-roots level. Organisations need to have a multidimensional approach in hiring, retention and development of women.
What are the major challenges that women in the industry face? Any major hurdle that you faced in the past?
While talking about the need for greater women representation in leadership roles, we often tend to portray it as only a gender parity issue, when it is a larger issue of workforce diversity bringing wider benefits for organizations themselves. From facing gender biases to workplace safety, women continue to encounter these challenges when it comes to advancing in the workplace. While it is true that more men occupy top media management positions, but over the past few years, I have seen women from different backgrounds defy gender stereotypes and scale up to the decision-making level.
What is your message to women in the industry?
For young aspiring women leaders who are entering the workforce, my single and most important message is to be confident and stop being apologetic. I would encourage all young professionals to be brave and not be sorry for bringing in a fresh perspective.
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