The strength of any organisation lies in the diversity of its people: Neha Jain
Jain, Director & Head -Comms & Corporate Affairs, India, NatWest Group, advises women professionals to break away from functional silos, and start thinking about adding greater value to the table
Bold, Resilient and Strategic. These adjectives aptly summarize women in the communication industry today. With a zeal to multi-task and perform, women have taken the leadership graph to newer heights. One such leader in the communiation is Neha Jain, Director & Head - Communications & Corporate Affairs, India, NatWest Group. Jain was recently recognized as an 'Emerging Leader in Corporate Communication' at the e4m PR & Corp Comm Women Achievers Awards 2020.
A purpose-driven leader, Jain has extensive experience in shaping brand reputation and culture. With an expertise in delivering high impact marketing, communication, and branding programmes in emerging and developed markets, she has multiple business acquisitions in her credentials.
In a candid conversation with e4m, Jain spoke about her big win, thoughts on female leadership, role of women in re-structuring the industry, her future goals and more.
How do you feel being the winner of the Women Achievers initiative?
It feels great to stand alongside some outstanding women who have been trailblazers in the field of Communications and PR. This recognition comes at an important juncture in my, my team’s, and my organisation’s journey as we changed our group’s name to NatWest Group.
What are the attributes/qualities required to be a leader in the communication industry?
I personally feel that a leader should possess the ability to operate at three altitudes of leadership to excel in this industry:
At a 50,000 feet level, from where you can look at the big picture, work with the senior leadership, understand their business goals and drivers, and help them join the dots by building and influencing the brand’s strategy and narrative to accomplish these goals.
At a 50-feet level from where you can articulate the wider business and corporate strategy to the teams around you to build a shared vision and a commitment to deliver on those strategies and campaigns. This is also the level at which you develop a sound understanding of your audience, which further defines the boundaries of the campaign for good absorbability.
And a 5 feet level of self-awareness, to understand your strengths, weaknesses, and Emotional Quotient. All of these come in very handy when it comes to leveraging your and your team’s strengths, and influencing stakeholders through campaigns.
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?
I have personally gained inspiration from some fantastic women in the industry who ensured that the value created and articulated by the function addressed the wider goals of the organisation, and its businesses. With the changing media landscape, I think the function has evolved tremendously and the opportunity has grown. The Communications & PR industry has come a long way over the last decade. The function is no longer limited to managing engagement with only one audience group; it now has the potential to influence the entire ecosystem of the brand, by building advocacy through journalists, industry influencers, digital influencers, customers, and even employees.
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?
Globally, organisations realise the criticality of diversity on the table for sound decision-making. I belong to an organisation which is headed by three women – our CEO, CFO, and CHRO. More diverse teams well position an organisation to develop products, services and a culture that work for all employees and customers – many of whom are women. When an organisation has a large and diverse customer base, it is even more important that employees accurately represent the different views of the customers. Having the right gender balance is essential in achieving that.
The strength of any organisation lies in the diversity of its people. Diverse organisations that attract and develop individuals from the widest pool of talent consistently perform better. This is not just a business case but also a moral one.
What are your future goals? What initiative would you like to take as a responsible woman leader for the industry/society?
I personally believe that education is the greatest tool in helping an individual champion their potential. I want to continue to share my learnings in the subject of brand building through influence and advocacy at universities and schools.
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?
I think there is a great opportunity ahead for communications and PR professionals, especially with the changing landscape of influencers and advocates. One thing which worked very well for me, and therefore I will leave that as a message for other emerging women leaders, is to break away from functional silos, and start thinking about how you can add greater value to the executive committee by building a conversation around your brand - through integrated communications.
At a leadership level, you need to have the ability to understand the drivers of your business and build influence through various channels. If you operated as a specialist in the past, it is time to start thinking about making a step change to become a generalist who is addressing a business goal or solving a business problem for the organisation.
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