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 Godrej Group, 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.
Somasree Bose Awasthi, Head of Marketing (Homecare Category) Godrej Consumer Products Ltd
Somasree started her professional journey with Godrej as a management trainee in 2003, initially as part of Sara Lee business, and then continued with Godrej Consumer Product post the merger. Currently, she is leading the marketing for the Homecare category which includes brands like Goodknight, HIT, Godrej air, and Godrej Ezee. Recently, she has also launched Godrej ProClean, which is a home hygiene brand.
What inspires her most about marketing is that unlike finance or other domains it has no set rules to follow. There’s an open arena to innovate and pour in all her creativity, to make life better, easier, and more fulfilling for consumers by understanding their needs. For Somasree, the interesting part is dealing with household products. For FMCG products, consumers go back to make purchases at a high frequency, hence, their brand of choice is getting evaluated and re-evaluated that much faster. To get them to come back to one’s brand every time they make a purchase decision is a marketer’s real challenge. Her learnings as a marketer come from the principle of understanding the consumers’ needs and being open to what they are looking for.
Being curious, always learning, challenging stereotypes, and embracing flexibility. In an industry that is ever-changing, it’s important to learn how to thrive, to be successful in the long run.
Let’s accept that there will be a little more challenge in a woman’s life compared to their male counterparts, due to the various stages one has to go through. However, the key is not letting them become an impediment to developing a “fuller whole-self” by ensuring a proper work-life balance. And towards that purpose, “leaning on” and being open to every help that one can get from family and at work!
As a co-worker, boss or mentor, it’s good to lead by example and stand firm on what one believes in. Uplifting other women and working together is the only way to grow together.
Godrej always takes special efforts in celebrating the accomplishments of women. The biggest examples are putting Somasree in Sales where no other company had sent a lady till then or promoting her by merit even as she was expecting, and being among the first few organizations in this country to start with 6 months maternity leave policy
The company believes that when you empower women in the workplace, you allow them to have more control over their careers. By investing in training, mentoring, equality programs, education grants, and promotion into senior-level positions, ensures career growth. Somasree encourages women to pursue opportunities at every level of the corporate ladder and never hesitate to ask for help.
Swati Rathi, Head – Marketing, Godrej Appliances
After completing my education in economics from St. Xavier’s, Kolkata, and an MBA in Marketing from XIM Bhubaneswar, I started my career at Polaris Software as a Management Trainee in 2002. IT sector was a learning experience but too dry for my liking and I soon shifted to Consumer Research at IMRB International, now Kantar, in 2003. The next 3 years involved navigating different aspects of market research. These rich years spent in research laid the foundation for consumer-obsessed thinking that continues to serve me well even today.
I moved to Godrej Appliances as a category marketing manager in 2006. Thereon, I embarked on learning the ropes of brand marketing across different categories and also got the chance to manage the vast secondary sales force of the organization. In 2015, I was given the opportunity to head the marketing function and steer the brand ahead. It has been six tremendous years of redefining the brand and how we operate, getting into multiple new categories, becoming digital-first, and just bettering our work selves every day as a team.
Inspiration comes in different forms every day – sometimes it’s from an article I stumble on or a book I am reading, sometimes it’s something I see at a store or at a consumer home or even an observation in our daily lives at home … inspiration comes so often from my young team and sometimes it even comes from brands in very different spaces. The idea is to always be open to inspiration.
Message to women co-workers:
I think most of us are lucky to be working in today’s times – when in general, people are more open and accepting of women leaders, and appreciative of what we bring to the table.
So do not hesitate to be vocal about your perspectives and use your natural empathy to elevate the customer centricity in your team and organization.
Often women confine themselves to their teams, but it is good to take the effort to reach out to stakeholders across the value chain, in different departments to seek out learnings. This will allow you to develop a better understanding of your business and organization and help you contribute to your role better.
And lastly, know that you can’t do it all. Don’t be harsh on yourself trying to be superwomen at home and office. You will flourish at somethings and flounder at others and it is ok. Just focus on doing your best and do not measure it against others.
At Godrej Appliances, we believe in empowerment for everybody at all levels. People are encouraged to speak their minds and leaders are generally very accessible and open.
As a woman leader, I also try to stay accessible, connected, and responsive to everyone and particularly, the women at my workplace – even if they are not in my team. There have been moments when young female employees from other teams have come up to me and said that I have been able to inspire them, and I cherish these moments. What I realize is that often women just need examples of women leaders around them to feel inspired and empowered.
Luckily at Godrej, we have a growing number of women leaders in different departments and divisions.
Reshu Saraf- Head- Integrated Marketing Communication at Godrej Interio
My journey started in a middle-class joint family from Kanpur city, with many women around – some of them housewives and others were girls being groomed to be married. My mother ensured that I take my education seriously. She ensured that I develop my career ambitions and a desire for being independent. My dad raised me to be a strong-willed girl. He always guided me to become mature enough to make my own decisions and carve my own path.
There were times when pressure was mounting to get the girl married. But my parents supported me when I decided to continue my higher education and prepare for MBA entrance exams. I cleared the entrance test and got admission into one of the top MBA colleges in Mumbai.
Now, I have been a Marketing professional with 12+ years of experience. I started working as a Marketing manager handling product management for few years. While at work I found my interest and inclination in the area of Advertising and promotions to become an integral part of the Integrated Marketing & Communications team at Godrej & Boyce, Godrej Interio division. Now it has been 4 years since I am heading this vertical in my company. I love working on new concepts and exploring ideas to connect with customers with an effective communication strategy.
My family (my Dad, Mom, Husband, Brother & Mother-in-law) has been the backbone of continuous support and my inspiration to never stop and keep going whatever be the situation. Their happiness and sense of pride in my achievements – no matter how small or big they are, is the driving factor behind all my personal and professional endeavors. Their faith in me pushes me to always aim for higher. I learned to work hard and be determined by my Dad. My husband keeps me focused on my career goals, pushes me to excel, and just does not let me settle for mediocrity. They are and will always be my biggest source of inspiration.
I also had the opportunity to work under excellent bosses (Mr.BedrajTripathy and Mr.Neeraj Prasad) who are my mentors for life. They have not only helped me learn practicalities at work but also some important life lessons on people management and leading by example. They helped me unravel my strengths by giving me projects to handle independently. It not only boosted my confidence and gave me a sense of pride but even helped me learn along the way.
When it comes to showing mental strength and determination to pursue our goals, I believe women will score better most of the time. We cannot let our failures be a stamp on our capabilities. Men and women, we all fail at times, and then we all should have the strength to stand back. Sometimes, things might not work out the way you envisaged. Learn and move on, do not lose sight of what your goals are, and do not let those setbacks be a scorecard of your limitations as a woman. Often, we counter situations (more often than men) when we need to prioritize choosing between professional and family needs. We have been put in this situation, given this extra responsibility, because I believe we are better ones to handle it. Always be ready to multi-task, maybe it requires some extra effort, but the results will give you contentment. Do not bog yourself down by trying to do everything 100% perfect; first, prioritize and then just get going without shying away from asking for help when needed. Asking for help does not show your weakness, but rather proves that you have the right people in your life.
At the workplace, I show no bias towards men or women, but the only lookout for the right talent and skills. If a woman has the right talent to perform a task, I encourage them to take up the challenge, providing them opportunities to handle and lead projects independently. I take care of having the right demeanor at the workplace by being confident and sincere towards my job. And I believe that it creates a healthy environment for other women colleagues to perform with confidence and sincerity without requiring any extra privilege or attention. I am also very open to connect with women colleagues and listen to their experiences and share my views to help them realize their true potential.