This Women’s day Medianews4u.com is acknowledging some women leaders of the Media, Marketing and Advertising fraternity who have given more than expected.
Presenting to you Women leaders from Denstu Aegis Network India, who share their experiences of breaking the gender stereotypes and how they continue to inspire many other women who are true leaders in the making.
Simi Sabhaney, CEO, Dentsu India
When you leave an organization after a span of 23 years, you are pretty much like a fish out of water. That’s what I felt when I quit Ogilvy and joined Dentsu Communications in 2014 as a CEO.
I was certain I would embrace the new place as my own, while steering it in a new direction. What this meant was, getting teams aligned and focused on the new ambitious goals that were set in order to propel the agency to newer heights. What I had brought along with me was fresh ideas, new energy and a sense of commitment to make inroads into newer sectors.
Instead, I found myself battling with a very different work culture, weak team dynamics, fragile egos and Not Invented Here syndrome. I found myself juggling various balls. Of course that meant I focus on one ball at a time, set the rhythm, block out any distraction that would dilute my energy. More importantly, I had to be patient because it was very clear that things would not change in a day.
Yes things did change, but what preceded the change was rather painful.
While I respect talent that has stood with an organisation over years, but if the same talent is unwilling to adopt change for the better, it can become a noose around the organisation’s neck.
This was possibly the hardest period in my career, wherein I had to take a call that the old talent changes yielding place to new.
Change is viewed as a merciless act by some and admired by others. To me it was just a matter of being courageous and being true to oneself.
Today when I look around at Team Dentsu India (earlier called as Dentsu Communications), I feel so proud of each and every team member. Sure I have added a few wrinkles on the way, but it was worth it! And of course, I now know I have an alternate career option… I could be a Juggler
There is one piece of advice I would like to give aspiring woman leaders. On second thoughts, this advice would be relevant to any aspiring leaders, regardless of their gender.
A rather simple word but in this word sits a world of clarity. And if not done right, it’s a door to a world of chaos.
At most critical junctures, you have to make a choice. And if this choice comes from the space of prioritising your goals, your roles, your needs, your desires, your battles, your highs; life becomes much simpler. Remember these priorities need to be evaluated from time to time and their ranking keeps changing; more often than not, it’s a function of your life stage.
Have the courage to look at your priorities in the eye and have the courage to face the consequences, whatever they maybe.
And lastly, whatever you do, remember to have fun
Sujata Dwibedy, EVP & Head of Buying, Amplifi India
This is about a decade ago when I was leading the Media Buying for Kotak Mahindra Bank, in one of my previous agencies, the brand had completed 25 years of existence and we were to do a high impact crusade in a nominal budget.
We had proposed a media-led impact idea in collaboration with all the other teams. We created a wonderful 360-degree high decibel campaign, premium positions across the day, in ad breaks in multiple Channels, for 5 days in a row. Additionally, there was some inventory in Cricket and some Jackets in Print during that period itself.
The campaign was a huge success to an extent that one of the Research firms that used to track highly recalled campaigns in a quarter, had listed our campaign amongst the top 3. It competed with brands, which had spent double or even more!
Considering it was such a controlled campaign, we all had to be on top of the whole campaign every minute. We were working on it for 1-1.5 months prior to the actual start!
Multiple challenges were there, first, the concept was unique, had not been done earlier those days. Secondly, some vendors were fine, but we wanted all to give us the premium positions. Hence, convincing the vendors was tough, also the pricing had to be within limits. Most importantly the implementation had to be rock solid! This could have never been possible if I did not have such supportive/diligent client, boss and team! Mind you most of them were all women!
After all the hard work, buys and strategy, just when the implementation started, I was diagnosed with Jaundice. My boss asked me to stay at home to rest, but I could not stop myself and was still coordinating. My client too was admitted in the hospital as she was delivering a baby. She was also constantly sitting with TV remote throughout and coordinating with the team. Of course, my boss was there to support where ever we were stuck!
It was a huge success and we celebrated the success with the client too, later!
The key lesson was to work in collaboration, when required to delegate, prioritize and most importantly focus on the best quality even in adversity!
Working at DAN
Luckily, I have had the opportunity to work in organizations with an open culture and no gender bias! Often the fears, issues and complexities rise because we choose not to speak! Best to keep it simple. Speak up.
I am truly proud of the fact that here at DAN, we work quite independently! And there has never been a situation where any of my team members and I have felt any favors or neglect because of our gender.
The principles we follow are to be responsible for our work, to be agile, to be collaborative and passionate about what we pursue! We have delivered some of the most awarded, best industry-first innovations, with a team having equal skew of men and women!
We have an excellent representation of women in the senior management, as well as the workforce and we work cohesively with the team. The managers are sensitized about situations. They are extremely supportive towards their team. We actively develop women as leaders.
It is not easy to grow within large organizations unless one proves the grit in addition to managing tough people plus complex situations. My journey has so far been a choice of navigation through right-wrong decisions, some good, some complicated people and appreciative as well as complex clients. An important aspect is risk-taking. I started as a Media Planner. Moved into being a Media Planner/Buyer-an integrated role, then got into Media Research later moved to Buying/Strategy. Further, moved to a Business P&L role. Now am leading Buying and Trading at Dentsu Aegis Network India, this is what I always wanted to do and always discussed with friends, also seniors! Chasing your passion works, playing safe does not normally give exposures to various aspects of life!
Yes, a constant strife has been the balancing between family and work time. As a mother, I keep introspecting whether I could give quality time to my child. Honestly, I could never separate the two, for me both are extremely critical. I feel the continuous self-assessment, conscious effort in the mind is important to keep the fire going. Ultimately, it’s important to be sorted in mind and prioritize what is required at that moment!
You do not have to compare yourself to anyone in your office or outside. You don’t have to listen to people who keep criticizing despite all your efforts. If you are honest to yourself, work with integrity, and are aware that you are giving your 100%, then you must know that you are incredible!
All that we face gives us experiences and we only learn through the journey. Be open to learning, its ok to make mistakes.