Raji describes herself as a brand Creator, Digital Evangelist, Yoga enthusiast into art and nature, Passionate about travelling, adventure sports, Giving back to the community.
From managing businesses to managing operations to running a company the journey has been both exciting and eventful.
Independence, Interdependence and Inspiration
I was raised by a single parent. My siblings and I were brought up by my Mom. I learnt about taking on responsibilities at an early age. My mother is an entrepreneurial, spiritual person with an indomitable spirit. She has had a big role in shaping me as a person and encouraging me to pursue my dreams. As a family, we were close knit and supportive and we all shared the belief that anyone regardless of gender could be all that we want to be. I was an avid reader and books fostered my imagination and inspired me to dream big.
I used to run, I used to row, I used to trek
From a young age I was into sports and outdoors. I used to run, I used to row, I used to trek, I ran cross country, I was chosen to represent the country in the Canada World Youth Exchange Programme. I was into camping and white water rafting. I did para trooping, I jumped off a plane thrice and have a wing for it. An experience like that changes your perspective on fear and personal risk. It really frees your mind.
My life has been a series of challenges and discoveries.
From discovering adventure sports as a teen to learning the meaning of leadership and community development when I was 18, during a 6-month stint in Canada and India on a Canada World Youth Exchange programme, I found my passion in a creative profession where everything is new and full of possibilities. The challenges, the passion, creative energy, working with ideas and talented people, building some of the biggest brands and businesses have been an amazing experience that has kept me hooked till date.
I enjoyed the pace, the creative energy
When I started way back, not many women chose advertising as their career. However, it was the best thing that happened to me. While there were pressures and stress it was an enjoyable stress. Working for the best agency in the country – JWT was a great experience. I loved the pace, the creative energy and the opportunity to make a difference in my own way.
I got the opportunity to work on some of the biggest brands early in my career that helped me to understand the power of communication and its impact and then I made a conscious decision to move to Mumbai to explore new horizons and take on new challenges It was the right move and within few years I was entrusted with their biggest businesses – De Beers and Kelloggs. Both were relatively new categories back then and the challenges of building a new category in India was both challenging and exciting in equal measure. Running a business like DeBeers gave me the opportunity to do some pioneering work. We launched the first diamond brand in the world – Nakshatra, followed by a series of other brands and created a paradigm shift in the way the category was marketed so far in the world. . I had a great team to work with and loved what I was doing. The best time to move onto something new is when you get most comfortable with your current role. And it was time to take on a new challenge, a leadership role.
The leadership role was a time of personal growth
The offer to run JWT Kolkata came in 2006 after running global businesses for over a decade. Despite it being one of my biggest challenges in the beginning, it turned out to be a great learning experience and personal growth. Building a fantastic team and holding pole position in a market where we got to be head and shoulders above the other agencies in terms of scale, size, creative work and an enviable roster of clients was one of the most rewarding experiences. Rising up to the challenge of building one of the biggest offices in the country, mentoring a team of talented individuals to realise their best potential, creating an environment that stood for excellence was a great journey that shaped me and honed my leadership skills.
Breaking the proverbial glass ceiling is a great feeling.
And then in 2017 it was time for the next big challenge, to lead an iconic agency within the WT group, Contract as their CEO. An exciting challenge and also a privilege to lead an extremely talented and committed team across the country. It has been over 3 years of action, consolidation and building momentum including navigating and mentoring the team through a challenging year of the Pandemic. What drives me today as a CEO is reimagining the future of our agency, partnering clients and providing solutions that make a difference to their business, making new collaborations happen and aligning the teams to our new goals and keeping the passion and momentum going within the agency. I now balance my love for travel, outdoors and adventure sports with Yoga and Meditation. It allows me to remain grounded and optimistic at all times.
I am inspired by people who have defied odds to achieve success, the innovators, and the people who are committed to a larger purpose and are working towards making this world a better place. I am also inspired by Nature and Art in every form.
As women the only thing that limits us is our own mind I believe there is nothing that women cannot achieve if they put their mind to it. Women need to shed self-doubt and believe in their capabilities and not let anything or anyone come in the way of achieving their dreams.
My message to Women out there: Be resilient, Be Fearless, Be ready take on new challenges and above all Stay Positive.
I believe in gender neutrality and performance, excellence and diversity are the best way to build a great team and not having women in the workplace is losing half the talent in the country for any organization.
At Contract, my effort has been to create a level playing field for women in our organisation. Creating an inclusive environment without any gender bias whether it comes to the work that we do every day, or hiring or recognition or rewards. Creating an environment that enables, empowers and inspires women to realise their potential and become successful leaders. Without that I believe we will not be our best as an agency.