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DDB Mudra Group aims to create gender equity in leadership with the Phyllis India Project

The project is a year-long mentorship program to enable and encourage women to thrive in leadership roles and drive professional growth

In a bid to create a more gender-balanced company, the DDB Mudra Group has launched ‘The Phyllis India Project’, a year-long mentorship program to enable and encourage women to thrive in leadership roles and drive professional growth.

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The comprehensive training program includes a customised career plan for each participant based on their goals and development areas. The program transcends the boundaries of the professional sphere by helping participants navigate mental and societal challenges such as experiencing motherhood guilt-free, overcoming the imposter syndrome, courage and self-belief, making your voice heard and other such themes.

The Phyllis India program is designed to provide consistent and personalised interventions in the form of training modules, mentoring sessions and fireside chats with industry leaders. Each participant’s career plan and development is tracked and reviewed monthly with the leadership team.

The program includes one-on-one and group mentoring sessions conducted by several industry leaders including Suparna Mitra (CEO – Titan Watches), Gayatri Yadav (CMO – India & SEA, Sequoia Capital) Virginia Sharma (VP - Brand Solutions, Jio Saavn), Vasuta Agarwal (MD - APAC, Inmobi), Indira Rangarajan (National Content Director - Digital, Mirchi), as well as DDB leaders like Varsha Kaura (Global Business Director, DDB Worldwide), Diana Sukopp (CCO, DDB Germany), Noelle Baer (VP and Strategy Director, DDB Chicago), among others.

With this initiative, the Group intends to create a community of women leaders of today who can be the role models that inspire and support the women leaders of tomorrow.

The DDB Mudra Group first entered participants into the global Phyllis Project in 2017. Having built on the fundamental principles and pillars of the global program, the company introduced the Indian edition that addresses the cultural challenges that women leaders face in the country. The Phyllis India Project pilot kicked off in 2020. The program has since been training its pilot batch of women leaders.

Parallelly, ‘Equal Parenting’ is another initiative intended to help employees balance their personal roles as parents, with their professional aspirations. It is inspired by the need to retain mothers in the workforce and create equal parents among men. Guided and informal sessions focus on ungendering and redefining the roles of both mothers and fathers.

Aditya Kanthy

“Gender gaps influence society, culture, economy and the way in which we shape our world for the next generation. Supporting the advancement of women and non-binary individuals by addressing the challenges they face is a global priority for the Group, and we in India have taken it very seriously. It’s inspiring to watch the participants of the Phyllis program grow personally and professionally, take on new roles, and steer the company towards a future with unbound potential. Leaders like Mehak Jaini who now heads Strategy at 22feet Tribal WW, and Sharon Misra who is now leading Exxon Mobil’s business, are great examples of how the program enables and empowers women to lead the biggest businesses in the market. Our notable alumni from this global programme include Shagun Seda, Marketing Director at Netflix, and Sonal Jhuj who leads Global Brand Strategy at Lego Global,” said Aditya Kanthy, CEO and MD, DDB Mudra Group.

The Group recently supported the UN’s Women Empowerment Principles (WEP). The WEPs platform offers the private sector a global network of like-minded companies and guidance on advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment in the workplace, marketplace and community.

Rita Verma

“At DDB, we know that better products and cultures emerge from diverse and inclusive teams. That’s why initiatives like The Phyllis Project are at the heart of our people strategy. We hope to learn and strengthen our current efforts from the UNWEP network, which is yet another step in making a deeper, meaningful impact. This impact drives culture, company policies, business, and gender parity at work and at home,” said Rita Verma, Executive Vice-President and Head-HR, DDB Mudra Group.

‘The Phyllis India Project’ currently engages with 25 of the brightest women talent in the DDB Mudra Group, has conducted over 35 group sessions and 100 one-to-one mentoring sessions so far. The program is named after Phyllis Robinson – DDB Worldwide’s first copywriter and the first female copy chief in U.S. history. Phyllis was known for her rebellious creative spirit, for challenging the rules and opening the doors for women in the industry. An icon of the creative revolution, her spirit continues to inspire women leaders to this day.


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