(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.)
Like many women across industries and geography, Priti Murthy, CEO, OMD India, has also faced the question, “Do you think you can manage home and work?” Unfortunately for women, no matter how good they are at their job, they are only considered truly successful if they can manage both home and work life seamlessly.
Murthy has been in the A&M industry for over two decades now, about 13 of which she spent with Maxus, and considers setting up the whole strategy and insights practice at Maxus as one of her biggest career milestones.
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For a lot of women, childbirth effectively puts a full stop on their careers but for Murthy that experience just encouraged her to reach for more.
“My personal milestone was when I had a child. I realised that if I can bring up a child, climbing up the corporate ladder was no big deal. It just opened my mind to many more possibilities,” said Murthy.
Murthy joined OMD as CEO just last year.
“When I started off about two decades ago, it wasn’t about business impact. It was about brand awareness. That changes your orientation. Plus, this also exposed me to the whole ecosystem of data analytics, techstat and digital data, and I could actually learn faster than anyone who enters the ecosystem today. I genuinely feel that I have seen the best of both the worlds – from when I started to mid-point to where I am today, it is because of the initiatives and the entrepreneurial runs that I went through,” said Murthy.
In a chat with BestMediaInfo.com, Murthy speaks about how unapologetic she is about her hunger for growth, her gender, and her age; societal norms notwithstanding
A life mantra that you follow.
‘What would you do if you are not afraid?’ I have this quote on my desk and I see it every morning. That’s the mantra that I have been following through the years.
How do you manage your family/professional commitments?
There are instances when you feel stuck with too many things to be done at hand. This happens with many of my friends too, who are stay-at-home moms. You can never be full-time available for the child. This is true for men as well. In today’s generation, dads are equally involved. It is true that many a time we find ourselves at a crossroad, when maybe one has to travel and the kid is unwell, but that’s a part and parcel of life. It’s a part of the churn you go through the momentum and then it is fine in a few days. Kids also fall into the parents’ schedule in time.
What are the key attributes that you think are critical for success?
I can’t be someone else. I have to be what I am, all the time. I go back to the concept of authentic leadership, because you need to be authentic in the way you deal with your partners, clients, teams and the work you bring in as well. I am also a person who believes in living the attitude of gratitude. You can’t throw your weight around all the time. You need the gratitude momentum.
If you were to re-start your professional journey, what would you change and why?
I would be a dancer or a writer for sure. I can still be a writer, though it might be too late to start for being a dancer now.
Does gender bias exist in the media business even today? How has the industry evolved over the last 15-20 years in this regard?
Yes, gender bias exists in the industry still. Thankfully, at my current company, I have not encountered any instances of gender bias. In fact, our management comprises 70% women. But if you look at other organisations, of course there is a clear gender bias. People often advise women to take lighter jobs or say they are very young to be a woman leader. I have been asked why am I in a rush to grow and why was I asking for bigger roles. Did I think I could manage home and work? I feel that many men don’t realise what they are saying. I feel bad for them, but that is the reality that exists.
What is your recommendation to youngsters joining the media trade?
I would suggest them to specialise in one area. Clients are pushing us to be polymath. One should have multiple skills, but it is important to specialise in something in particular. But it wouldn’t help to ignore everything else in the pursuit of specialising. One must realise all the dots are connected, because our industry is about that.
(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.)