Babita, Managing Partner GTB India a WPP company is also a British Chevening Scholar, and part of a Women’s professional Group – Gurgaon Women Professionals
Babita has spent 24+ years in the Advertising Industry, she joined JWT Kolkatta in 1996 and in the 24th year she leads GTB India a WPP Company as Managing Partner. Her work experience extends across categories in FMCG, Finance, Technology. Besides being part of global agency teams on Nestle, Johnson and Johnson and Radiant & Knorr in Unilever. Babita, led the Nokia India agency business, before moving on to setting up a dedicated integrated solutions team for PepsiCo, India, in 2016.
She is driven by diversity, mentoring young professionals, engagement with management institutes, initiatives for making the workplace culture conducive to inspired talent and strong partnerships. Along with her team, she has initiated programmes like SheHour and SheTime to connect and empower women at work in the workplace.
In today’s Leaderspeak Babita Baruah – Managing Partner, GTB India. (WPP) talks about her professional journey with WPP, her initiatives to empower women in the workplace and much more…….
24+ years in Advertising, what a journey, can you take us through it?
For many of us in the industry, life and work journeys are intertwined. Mine is too. I have worked in three cities, multiple businesses and also been part of some regional and global teams. The journey has been a road that always turned sharp corners, with challenges and opportunities.
I come from Assam. One of the first in my family to move out of our home state. Comfort zone, so to say. It took a while for me to get used to city life, folks, and attitude. Kill some of my own demons.
There are a few things that I have been very lucky to have had in this journey.
- Excellent support from my seniors
- Experience across diverse categories
- The value of trust and relationships
- Discovering my strength as a woman
How is it to Head GTB now?
It is extremely exciting and fulfilling. We are a global team with a simple purpose. We make what matters. For people and for business. We believe that whatever we create should be solutions- that are relevant, purposeful and inspired. The values of Curiosity, Kind and Brave that define GTB are aligned with my own values.
As a women Leader how are you empowering women at WPP, and in general at workplaces especially Media?
I am part of many initiatives in my organisation. We believe in diversity, inclusion and women empowerment is a part of this. It starts from the recruitment stage itself- for equal opportunities and expression.
Empowerment is not limited to initiatives and programs. It is about how each one of us make it our agenda to understand, support and motivate women to join, continue and shine in our team.
Personally, I also mentor many young women, who seek my support, as students about to embark on their professional life. My guidance to them is to never give up, to always work towards being economically independent.
“The Breeze whispers to the lotus,
What is Thy secret?”
“It is myself,” says the lotus.
“Steal it and I disappear.”
The strength on a woman lies in being who we are.
That is the strongest message we can live by every day, from one woman to another.
The challenges you faced and the most important achievement in your career?
Challenges are just opportunities in disguise, in my opinion. Yes, when you stand there facing your worst fears- a setback, a conflict, fighting a perception maybe, you do feel vulnerable. But it is about turning it on its head. That has always been my attempt. “Once a team, always a team.” This has been my north star. To nurture, inspire and lead teams that may move on from the organisation, but never from life.
People who worked with me and are now shining in their chosen path, make me immensely proud. This is my best achievement.
What are the changes you are seeing in the Media industry especially in the Advertising field?
The shift from linearity to a two way, engaging communication. The marriage of data and people centric insights with behaviour. The Talent mix, Collaboration and partnerships, Audience that consumes and creates, change in formats and manner of advertising consumption and experience and Democratisation of ideas. And of course the transformation journey that all of us in the industry are embracing.
With COVID-19 and a new normal way of life, how do you think the industry and clients will cope and will mind-sets change?
We can only speculate at this stage. But there have been some shifts I have observed.
The trust in partners and relationships, performance over time spent, and authenticity and honest communication. This does not mean we do not take creative leaps. It means being true to how the consumer will benefit. Being stakeholders for growth and not just communication
As a women CEO what is your take on fewer women in the boardrooms?
We are getting there
A mentor you want to mention and what specifically did you learn?
Mythili Chandrasekar. My senior and also my partner in thinking, creativity and business, in Wunderman Thompson India. Mythili keeps me balanced. She inspires me and pushes me to always explore and experiment. Though she is officially retired, she is very active and teaches me that life is always about belief.
How do you De-stress yourself?
With my family, my four dogs and one cat, my plants.
Go to activities on the weekend?
We go out for long drives (with adequate protection given the context today), in our Ford Endeavour- named Brahma. It brings us closer as a family that loves adventure and the thrill of the outdoors.