‘The most important aspect is to stay energised with focus on progress & positivity’
In today’s ‘Women Achievers 2022’ series, Valerie Pinto, CEO, Weber Shandwick, outlines the classic makings of a great leader
On the occasion of Women's History Month (March), 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 Valerie Pinto, CEO, Weber Shandwick. A corporate professional with industry experience of over two decades, Pinto believes in building a strong business based on the fundamentals of growth with a vision to lead the future.
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?
Our offices have been operational since October in a hybrid format. Most of the people have been attending office and following necessary precautions.
Masks are extremely important with sanitisers at every desk. Common areas are regularly sanitised and utmost care has been taken to ensure we have a strong air filtration system working in top condition. Temperature checks will be part of regular routine. The offices will have disposable mugs and plates to ensure hygiene is maintained at all levels.
Most importantly, it will be critical for all staff to be mindful of their own actions while at work to ensure that we don’t spread infection or put anyone at risk.
Meeting rooms are open with open-air collaboration centers that have been created at different parts of the office.
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?
I am super proud of the entire team who has worked so well balanced in the last 20 months. Yes, it was one of the most trying times but what’s important is to keep focus on the end goal and not let the little things get to you, seeing the other person’s problems and inabilities to perform with empathy and staying passionate to keep up the energy of the team. I have noticed that if one team member is down the entire team sulks and feels miserable. So the most important aspect is to stay energised with focus on progress and positivity, and accept the surrounding and situation around us. I also find that exercising and breathing exercises keep you focussed and balanced as a professional and help develop a mind that is calm and not always racing in different directions. Most people tend to mix the problems up and see negative in everything, which tends to worsen the situation. So, if things are difficult – one needs to step out of the problem, view it dispassionately and start to look at solutions that can help one get out of the situation as quick as possible. Once the root cause is identified, it needs to be acted on quickly. This helps maintain balance and stay positive despite all the things that could go wrong around you.
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.
I do my best to stay fair in the industry to both men and women. I think both work very hard to make their mark in their professions. However, with Covid, we have seen many women feel the need to drop out of work to take care of their families and children, or being with in-laws, they find it hard to stay focussed on work. As leaders, it is our duty to understand these impediments and make colleagues aware of such situations so they can contribute – even if not with work but at least with emotional support.
I have been working closely with organisations like as GWPR, Aspire for her and Take Charge to mentor women and help them balance their work and life, and stay employed despite all odds. I also work with various academic institutes to provide perspective to aspiring students looking to enter the industry on what to expect and how to keep balance.
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?
I have been fortunate to not have to cross many roadblocks. Being strong and focused on what you want to achieve and staying grounded and humble are critical makings of a leader. Always staying open to learning, never giving up working shoulder-to-shoulder with your teams and always keeping up the energy, despite all odds, are the classic makings of a great leader.
What would be your advice to the young generation?
I find that the young generation is a bit impatient and are eager to judge before they have sunk themselves into a task or engaged with a person. My advice to them is to have patience. Grow some roots. Learn before you leap. And stay grounded and focussed. Don’t get swayed by money at a tender age; it’s knowledge that makes you who you will eventually grow to be. Grow roots like a big large tree and no small storm can ever break you.
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