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If not a media professional, I would have been a doctor, says Anita Nayyar, CEO, Havas Media

Nayyar entered the media industry when there weren’t even a handful of women at the top and started her career at an agency that was being spearheaded by a powerful and legendary woman. She feels gender bias still exists in the industry

Anita Nayyar, CEO, Havas Media

(This is a special series on the women leaders in media agencies. BestMediaInfo.com will bring to you stories that will explore gender bias in the industry, how to strike a work-life balance and what it takes to make it to the top through the lens of leading ladies in the media fraternity.)

Starting her illustrious career under the leadership of Nargis Wadia at Interpublicity in 1983, Anita Nayyar, CEO, Havas Media, has been one of the most successful women leaders in the Indian media industry. Having studied pathology in her academics and being a pathologist at work, Nayyar took the plunge into the media and advertising industry in an attempt to blend science with the art of media.

She has been in the industry for over 35 years, considering each and every step to be a special one in her career. Speaking about the milestones that have carved her into a person that she is, Nayyar said, “Every incident is a learning and it has added to my personal and professional growth. Difficult to single out any one. There are no good or bad experiences. Each experience is a learning in itself and has helped me evolve both as a person and a professional.”

She entered the media industry when there weren’t even handful of women at the top, starting her career at an agency that was being spearheaded by a powerful and legendary woman. She feels gender bias still exists and it will take time to eliminate it from the industry.

Nayyar has worked in the top media agencies throughout her long career, including Ogilvy, where she worked with another power-woman Roda Mehta, Mediacom, Mudra, Starcom and Initiative Media, before joining Havas Media. During her 12-year long stint at Havas Media, she had a brief spell at Bennett Coleman where she was heading Customer Strategy and Response.

Believing in hard work and resilience, Nayyar has travelled far and is now poised to take the journey further with equal zeal.

A life mantra that you follow.

No shortcut to success and no replacement to hard work. Do your best and leave the rest.

How do you manage your family/ professional commitments?

Honestly, it is tough but I have a great support in my husband, two lovely daughters and a fantastic team at work. Together, they let me balance both home and work. My life revolves around work and home and there is no room for anything else. God has been kind.

Key attributes that you think are critical for success.

Focus, resilience and hard work.

If you were to re-start your professional journey, what would you change and why?

I would go back to what I wanted to do be. Being a microbiologist and pathologist by academics, I would want to start my journey as a doctor.

Do gender biases exist today? How has the industry evolved over the last 15-20 years?

While the industry has evolved, gender biases still exist and that is across. I think it is important for one to see oneself as a professional and not belonging to a specific gender. The sad part is that the industry still has those biases.

What is your recommendation to youngsters joining the media trade?

It’s a tough world out there. Work hard, put in your best and go digital.

(Discovery is celebrating the achievements of India’s high-flying women through its show Women Fighter Pilots. In line with its show, the channel has partnered with BestMediaInfo.com to celebrate the achievements of women leaders in advertising through the inspiring series – Discovery Women Achievers.)


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