To the ones standing beside you:
For Pallavi Chakravarti, creative head – west, DDB Mudra, it needn’t always be the person at the top one looks up to.
Mentors are all-important in shaping us into the professionals we ultimately become. But equally, so are our peers, partners and juniors. This one’s for them. The ones I started out with, the ones I am growing old with and the ones who keep me young.
To Roshni Kavina, with whom I laughed and cried when we were newbies. Together, we learnt the value of hard work and the utility of a toothbrush in one’s cubicle drawer.
To Sejal Kuvavala, who taught me to stand for what was right even if it meant taking on someone stronger or higher up the food chain.
To Anuradha Joshi Medhora, for showing me what life beyond advertising looked like.
To Hetal Ajmera, the craziest, most inspiring partner I ever had – among the first people I know to take the entrepreneurial plunge and rock it.
Pallavi Chakravarti, creative head – west, DDB Mudra
To Shruthi Venkataraman, Nivedita Agashe, Apoorva Jain and Gauri Burma, whose oceanic talent and craft I delighted in and am still awed by.
To Radhika Sabherwal, Ambalika Sen, Dipika Saggi and Gargi Vegiraju, the most committed, driven, passionate business and planning leads I have had the pleasure of working alongside.
To Priyanka Rishi and Ayesha Ghosh, who made running agencies look easy.
To the many other young and young-ish women who have enriched my professional life over 18 years – I would happily name each one of you and the learnings you have imparted if it were not for the word limit I’ve been handed.
And given that the said limit looms large over me, I’ll wind up stating the moral of this particular story. Ladies, you’ve all taught me one beautiful thing. It needn’t always be the person at the top one looks up to. Sometimes, it’s the people standing with you or behind you who earn your undying respect, gratitude and love.
Band of sisters
Garima Khandelwal(L) with Madhurima Khandelwal (R)
Garima Khandelwal, CCO, Mullen Lintas tells us about the rock-solid support in her life—her sister.
Every woman in my life has impacted me to be who I am. My friends indulge me, look out for me, give me my safety net.
In fact, I noticed a while back that all my closest women friends retained their father’s surnames after marriage, and all of us belong to a generation when this wasn’t as normal as is it now.
To me, it’s a sign of their individuality in their relationships, fierce independence and their identity not linked to their better halves.
I am thankful for each one of their presence in my life, but I want to dedicate this note to my sister, Madhurima Khandelwal. She is younger than me by two and a half years but she is the epicentre of our family. Salm and emotionally so mature. She was a studious girl, always had a very driven and no-nonsense ambition to excel. She went on to study economics at the SRCC in Delhi. She started working at TVS Motors and moved pretty early to American Express wherein a couple of years became the youngest VP at the organisation.
I have seen her grow into this professional heavyweight, but I think what she burdens on herself is the chase for perfection in whatever role she plays. What amazes me is how she manages to play them with perfection anyhow. She is the perfect daughter, mother, sister, wife, daughter-in-law and friend. I’m thankful to her for giving me my two nieces who are the apples of our eyes. She is the first one I tell any good news or bad news to. I’m thankful for her calm support and her outlook. She is someone who is always there for me.
An ode to her
Mansi Datta, chief client officer & office head – North & East, Wavemaker India, spotlights the women who lead by example
A few days ago, I got a call from a manager telling me that she did not know how to proceed with the presentation. She subsequently broke down, her feelings of inadequacy overwhelming her.
Every woman deals with the feeling of vulnerability at some point where you begin to question yourself, your skills and your expertise. Why do we need to prove that we can do it and then only do we think we can do it?
What has shaped me as a person has been the experience of my mother’s eight long years of a prolonged coma. The strength to bear the feeling of helplessness and the courage to pick up every phone call that comes from the hospital during those years has honed my coping mechanism. More than that, it showed me how to take things in stride and believe in the power of the process. The suspense of the journey has its own reward. Eventually, I had the satisfaction of knowing that I did whatever it took.
And so when vulnerability strikes you, think of the process and go ahead and build it up piece by piece. That’s what so many countless examples of inspiring women around me have shown me.
Jayanti Rajan was one of the first few women to break the glass ceiling and head the media department at O&M Bangalore. Shubha George earned respect from her clients and steadily climbed the rungs of the ladder with her objectivity. Rema Harish outshines everyone with her intelligence.
Sanchayeeta Bhattacharya wins clients with her storytelling skills and wins her reportees with huge empathy. Asha Sekhar made it to the global map with her ambitious zeal. This is my heartfelt tribute.
But it would not be complete without mentioning the tremendous impact that my fellow women colleagues have had on me and the support of my closest trio of friends who are highly competent women professionals.
In the words of Rudyard Kipling:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it.
A sign of competence
Kanika Mittal (L) with Sarah Personette (R)
Kanika Mittal, head of large clients solutions at Twitter India, on the woman who showed her that imposter syndrome is actually not a bad thing.
My professional journey has been diverse, exciting and fulfilling. I have worked across multiple industries like telecommunications, tech, retail and ecommerce and have been fortunate to learn and get inspired by some amazing women in the workforce.
Two women who had a positive impact on me are:
1. Sarah Personette: Sarah is the Global Chief Customer Officer at Twitter and she inspires with her bold thinking, empathic style of leadership and strong voice. Women often find themselves plagued with self-doubt and imposter syndrome at work and Sarah taught me how imposter syndrome is actually not a bad thing. It implies you are competent without being overly overconfident. Her passion for diversity and inclusion is second to none and I am constantly inspired by her to do the right thing and completely commit myself to the organisation I work for.
2. Apurva Purohit: Apurva is the author of “Lady, you are not a man”, an industry veteran and one of the strongest women CEOs in the country. Although I have not met her personally, her book had a deep impact on me. It taught me that women live with guilt no matter what. If you choose to have a career, you feel guilty about all the moments you are missing with your children. If you choose to spend more time with kids at the cost of your career you feel guilty about giving up on your education and dreams. Any form of choice comes with guilt for not the choice not taken. Treating it as part of the package is an essential part of empowering yourself and finding that balance and joy.
‘To her, with love’ is a Storyboard18 special series where women in leadership tell us about the women who inspired them and led the way. A shout-out to her.
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