‘Women should embrace their natural leadership styles’
At the e4m PR and Corp Comm 30 under 30 Summit, eminent women leaders of the industry deliberated on the next generation of women in PR
The 2nd edition of e4m PR and Corp Comm 30 under 30 Summit brought industry stalwarts to talk and deliberate on the rise of a new age of communication. The third session of the summit talked about ‘The next generation of women in PR’.
The panelists comprised Prasidha Menon, Regional Communications Lead – India, Southeast Asia, Hong Kong and Taiwan, Airbnb; Bhavya Sharma, Associate Director PR & Communications, The Urban Company; Gunjan Mukherjee, Lead – Corporate and Brand, Hill+Knowlton Strategies and Pooja Trehan, AVP – Communications and Public Policy, SugarBox Networks. The session was moderated by Ruchika Jha, exchange4media.
The panelists kick-started the session discussing the key challenges and opportunities today’s women leaders face where Sharma said, “I think there are a lot of opportunities that exist but what’s holding women back is their self-doubt and impostor syndrome. We are extremely hard on ourselves and it’s not exactly an institutional problem but also kind of a culmination of societal institutions and our own discomfort with ourselves. The moment we are able to balance that, I think it will not be a problem for us to move into leadership and to capitalise on the opportunities that are present to us.”
Agreeing to what Sharma said, Menon elucidated, “There are a lot of opportunities. If you look at it from an individual’s perspective you see that we are very hard on ourselves. We are sometimes restricting ourselves from being a strong voice in the room because we are sometimes not the loudest voice. We get into situations where voice clubs take over. The moment we are a lot more confident about ourselves and able to go ahead, vouch for things that we really feel we deserve and work hard for it, the situation will change for us at an individual level. It is okay to be great at multitasking but it is also okay no to multitask too.”
Moving further in the conversation, the panelists expressed their views on building confidence in young women through behavioural change and also how an organisation helps in empowering them. According to Mukherjee, one should move from empowerment to sponsorship. Organisations need to identify high potential women and then work with them to create an ecosystem where they can perform their best and be future women leaders. “The government has also made day-cares etc being accommodated by organisations. So we can see a shift towards creating a more enabling system because the realities of everyday life for us cannot change. Companies need to identify the changes in the environment and apply them because instead of hypertension talent to such challenges what will result is that you will see a talent crunch and imbalance. So it is very important for us to understand what is happening in the overall industry and similarly adapt, evolve and work along with women leaders to bring about that change otherwise nothing will change,” she added.
Trehan replied, “I started a campaign called women in tech. We actually started with women in our organisation beyond marketing and communication. I started with people who were possibly in engineering, infrastructure, operations. We got them in front of the screen frame. Since they are all behind the camera talent, they don’t get the opportunity in their life to do that. After getting them, we just told them to talk about their journey and tell people why they love the tech industry. The women turned around and they were so kicked about technology. So, women in tech as a category, my organisation didn’t ask me to do it. I felt that need and I wanted to talk about it. That is how you build someone else’s confidence and give back to your organisation and your peers. The minute the change was evident, the organisation automatically empowered me to continue doing that.”
Concluding the session the panelists were asked what they want to convey to the upcoming women leaders in the industry to which Menon said, “Ask yourself where do you want to be and how do you want to get there. Don’t wait for mentorship or coaching programmes. Have confidence in yourself . Work on your skills.”
Trehan concluded, “Please read and write a lot. Please educate yourself. Start respecting anybody and everybody that you see has come to any position of seniority because they have had to fight way too many battles to get where they are.”
Mukherjee conveyed, “Think yourself as a leader first. You have to inspire yourself and others every day. You have to lead the way and become an epitome for other women to follow.”
Sharma said, “If you are capable of writing a vision note map for the company for the next two or five years, we should write it for ourselves too. Women should use the skills for their personal growth if they are doing it for the company.”
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