See roadblocks as opportunities to rethink & reshape your journey: Deepa Dey

In today’s edition of ‘Women Achievers 2022’ series, Dey, Head Comm & Sustainability, Nutrition & Special Projects at HUL, shares how lockdown helped reset buttons in our lives

e4m by Shrabasti Mallik
Published: Mar 7, 2022 12:12 PM  | 4 min read
Deepa Dey

Celebrating the contributions of women this International Women’s Day, 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. 

Today’s series features Deepa Dey, Head Communication & Sustainability, Nutrition and Special Projects at Hindustan Unilever Limited. A veteran with over 20 years of experience in the industry, some of her areas of expertise include corporate communications,  corporate social responsibility, sustainability, crisis and internal communications, and reputation management.

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?

Change of any kind is challenging and the pandemic-induced ones have been tough on all of us. While we have been able to deliver while working /studying from home, we also realised how important in-person social connections are for teamwork, collaboration and our mental health – all of which leads to a high-performance culture.

However, the pandemic is not over yet and we need to continue to follow all Covid appropriate behaviour – masking, hand washing, social distancing and getting vaccinated – to keep ourselves and our communities safe.

It seems a hybrid approach will be common, working with agility and being prepared to act quickly, with abundant caution, in case the situation escalates. Health and livelihood are both important – we all have to participate in the process, equally, to be able to move ahead.

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?

Personally, the pandemic coincided with some significant changes in my life – job change and becoming an empty nester! This, along with anxiety and long Covid, made the matter rather difficult.

But the pandemic also reset many buttons for me. Locked into an apartment, anxious and exhausted, we added practising gratitude, exercise, eating healthy and choosing “being happy” to our daily routine. Work was made easy with the constant support of our co-workers/ employers – there was so much empathy, help and collaboration that it did not make us feel isolated at any point. 

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.

Frankly, women have had it easy in the communication industry as the function has largely been a diversity function, especially within corporates. But what is heartening is that many fabulous men have chosen to join this profession and have given it a rich balance. I am grateful for the many exciting wins during the last 26 years. But I treasure the learnings too – these have helped me grow as a person and a professional.

And if I have been able to open a door to learning for all the amazing professionals that I have had the privilege to lead and work with, then I consider achieving my individual purpose.

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?

Every journey has roadblocks, see it as an opportunity to rethink and reshape your journey. Not as obstacles. Nature is a great teacher. Take water for instance - it has a great lesson for us all – keep flowing, flow around the blockage, flow into the shape of the receptacle you are in and keep nurturing all around.  

The concept of leadership has changed over the years and it will continue to evolve. Leadership has always needed vision, focus and courage. Today’s leaders should also be authentic, inspiring, collaborative and empowering. It’s a “we” leadership and not “me” leadership that will win.

What would be your advice to the young generation?

Be curious, creative, courageous. Work smart. Party hard. Choose happiness

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