Perseverance & patience must for a leader in communcation industry: Prasidha Menon, OYO

Menon, Global Head of Communications at OYO, speaks on being chosen 'Emerging Leader in Corporate Communications', qualities of a leader, need for more women at the helm and more

e4m by Nafisa Shaheen
Updated: Aug 13, 2020 8:13 AM

Prasidha Menon, Global Head of Communications at OYO, is elated and thrilled on being recognised as an 'Emerging Leader in Corporate Communications' at the e4m PR and Corporate Communication Women Achievers Award 2020.
A firm believer of equal opportunities, Menon has spent more than 15 years in the communication industry bringing numerous business wins to her credit. A proud propagator of the ‘woman up’ ideology, Menon speaks to e4m on her win, qualities of a leader, need for more women at the helm of organisations, role of women in restructuring the industry, future goals and more.

Edited Excerpts

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

I am absolutely thrilled. It is a huge honour and privilege to be recognised and appreciated by this illustrious forum. I want to thank the e4M team, Dr Annurag Batra, Karan and everyone else involved in conceptualising the Woman Achievers Awards. I want to also thank all my colleagues from Edelman India, Uber India and OYO Hotels & Homes, both men and women, who have inspired, enabled and encouraged me to keep working hard. I also want to thank my mother who has always encouraged me to chase my dreams.

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

Communication is an important and tough job with several nuances. Interestingly, more often than not it is also inherently a thankless job and most people who consume news think they can easily do our work. So, as a leader in this industry, it is very important for one to have a strong voice at the leadership table, and ensure you are able to showcase the true value of having a clear corporate reputation programme. It is important to make sure that all your business stakeholders understand that communication must be core to their business strategy if they want communication to help deliver business outcomes, over and beyond meeting reputational goals. It must be a shared responsibility, and collaboration across functions is key to deliver outcomes and impact. As a leader, you need to be perseverant, patient, and have the ability to be the strongest voice in the room — even when not the loudest. Additionally, having the ability to plan for scenarios, pre-empt and prepare are also very important, especially in unprecedented times like these. Last but not least, as a communicator, it is important you have an ‘outside in’ view of any development, so you can be empathetic and relevant to your audience.

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?

There are several women leaders in the industry who have truly changed the way the industry functions and is perceived by a broader ecosystem. Historically, the PR industry has often had more women employees at junior and middle levels, but not necessarily at the leadership level. I can now slowly see that change and that’s a great start. I think we have a fighting chance to lead this change across industries, and that is an exciting position to be in. We need more and more women leaders to step up and support other women leaders.

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

I truly believe that there needs to be equal and fair opportunity for women at every level, and in every industry. Unfortunately, we have very few women in leading positions, and there is a glass ceiling that many women are striving to break every day in one way or the other. As women leaders, we need to create a more conducive environment for other women and stand up for each other so we can fight the unconscious bias around us. I think we, as women, often undermine our own abilities and potential and, as a woman, I will always remind all my female colleagues and friends to take charge of their life, and question the societal norms, if and when needed, and to follow their heart. We, as women, have the ability to multitask, we are decision makers, we have clarity of thought, we are able to empathise, but what we often lack is the confidence to do things the way we want, and stand up for our rights, whether it is a raise, a promotion or sometimes just having the confidence to present a counter opinion. I don’t mean to generalise, but we often focus on our weaknesses and completely miss celebrating our strengths. I think women make great leaders. The women leaders I have had the opportunity to work with were all extremely talented and inspiring, but what made them stand out was their grit. The ability to deal with challenges with a smile on their face, making them even more valuable during these unprecedented times.

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

My goal is to bring a better version of myself to work everyday. I want to keep learning and growing. As a woman leader I would love to support other young aspiring women in finding their purpose and building their career. Drawing from my experience from over the last 15+ years, I would love to help them navigate through the challenges they face in the professional journey. It is important to acknowledge that everyone faces challenges, and if life throws lemons at you, you have to make the best possible lemon drink and enjoy it.

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

I think the PR and corporate communications industry is going through significant changes. The lines between marketing and communications don’t exist anymore, and the power of earned media is widely recognized. Today, the reputation of the company has a huge impact on business continuity, and therefore the communications functional has a key role in decision making and sometimes the ability to veto a decision as well.  This is a big opportunity as well as a huge responsibility, and the onus of fast pacing this change lies in our hands. It is super important for all PR & communications professionals to upskill, and stay up to date with the changing media and communications environment. It is also important for us to invest in understanding business and operations, competitive landscape, and regulatory and legal frameworks, within which any company operates. All of this will enable us to deliver on not just reputational goals but also drive business outcomes.
I would want to tell each and every woman leader to believe in themselves and their abilities. Make choices that make you happy. And once you’ve made the choice, don’t be guilty about it. You must then give yourself a fighting chance and achieve your goals. Woman up and chase your dreams!

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