‘Women have demonstrated skills in every sphere with empathy & emotional intelligence’

In today’s edition of ‘Women Achievers 2022’ series, Roma Balwani, Senior Advisor, Vedanta, says aspiring PR & comm professionals should have confidence in their ability to perform

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Published: Mar 4, 2022 1:29 PM  | 5 min read
Balwani

With International Women’s Day being just around the corner, 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 Roma Balwani, Senior Advisor, Vedanta. A veteran in the field of communications, she is also Independent Director, John Cockerill India.

Excerpts:

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 to ensure a smooth transition?

Across the manufacturing and essential services industry, organisations that run large plants/ assets had little choice but to be agile to adapt and work towards ensuring the safety and wellbeing of their employees and local communities. The strategy to quickly bring in 20 per cent manpower to optimise production in the early days of the pandemic and then increase the manpower was very crucial in the past 20 months so that there is a seamless transition with multiple measures to ensure safety at all costs.

All the social investments to stabilise productivity at Vedanta, be it CSR measures, technology and remote digital technology - all played a vital role to continue the mining operations safely. The resilience that employees demonstrated was stellar. Their adaptability and enabling a smooth transition to hybrid workplace norms were indeed admirable. The HR teams played a pivotal role and plant heads compassionately engaged on-ground with employees, families and communities. This has held us in good stead to increase manpower to run the plants efficiently. Communication played a key role in ensuring reassuring messaging. The wholehearted support by the top management in introducing key HR initiatives for Covid-affected employees and families was the need of the hour. These are now hygiene factors in the workplace and attendance in the corporate offices has increased considerably to help smoothen the interface with our corporate teams and people in the plants during the covid waves that the world is facing.

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 distinctly remember the mindset change everybody, including me, had to face. However, with the empowerment, we were able to tide over the ever-changing scenario with HR practices, which came with a forward-looking mindset to offer employees flexibility. Yes, the surround sound when you work from home has to be managed efficiently. Stress levels increased and you had to strive hard to create a routine that is now optimised, working well and now a way of life.

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.
To go back in time, communications had not evolved as a strategic function nor was it so vital to protect the reputation of the company. The focus was on advertising and marketing, word of mouth and customer experience, which took centre stage. But many a time, despite the best of campaigns there was no enhancement of the corporate brand or the share value of the company. Now it takes centre stage when you see how important transparent communication is a key obligation to shareholders, the public and employees, and many indirect stakeholders. Companies now realise this is a leadership and strategic function for responsible business. The need of the hour is walking the talk and communicating consistently and proactively, especially now with scientific data, measurement tools and investments made to manage reputational risks. This has been a journey to create the right kind of strategy that has underscored the importance of communications at each step as a communications professional. I sometimes forget that I may have unconsciously faced any gender bias. Women are equally competent, if not more, and have demonstrated their skills in every sphere with empathy and emotional intelligence.

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?
It is your own limitation. Once you unfetter yourself, build your self-worth and make your distinct place in the system, and you can aspire to reach the top position. Then the world will be your oyster.

What is your advice for the young generation?
My simple philosophy has been to take on any responsibility, ask for help when faced with adversity, be a strong advocate for your conviction and have confidence in your ability to perform. It is also about ensuring collective success. Learn, unlearn and relearn. When you stop that, you stop growing. Our tribe now has a strong voice, which can impact not only businesses but create perceptions for nations as well. It is a huge responsibility reposed on young leaders who are getting set to make a mark in the PR industry. They are agile, well-groomed and well informed to take on the task and excel! I am amazed by the conviction of their ideals, smart mindset and can-do spirit!

The content in this section is curated by the PR and Communications team. For any feedback kindly write to karan.bhatia@exchange4media.com.

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