It is important for women who want to become industry leaders to never lose their confidence and to not hide behind any shield, revealed female achievers from Google and Heads Up For Tails in the fireside chat conducted by FCB Group India.
In the fireside chat conducted on Thursday, Rashi Narang, Founder, Heads Up For Tails, emphasised on how important it is for a woman to accept her vulnerabilities and retain her feminine qualities like compassion and empathy, as that is what makes her different from the men in the industry.
Moving ahead, she also said that the industry wants to see toughened individuals leading them from the front, and that’s what every woman should strive to become.
According to Sapna Chadha, Vice-President Marketing, Google Asia Pacific (India, South East Asia & South Asia), “I think confidence is the muscle and you have to work on it, and no matter how hard life strikes at you, never lose confidence.”
“The one thing that I would like women to not do is wear an armour and realise that what actually makes a woman is the quality of compassion and empathy and one should see them as strengths and not weaknesses,” said Narang.
This fireside chat with Google’s Sapna Chadha and Heads Up For Tails’ Rashi Narang which was moderated by FCB’s Debarpita Banerjee was a part of FCB’s ‘She Can She Will’ initiative which aims to facilitate conversations and content around women in leadership.
According to Debarpita Banerjee, CEO, FCB India, “Post the pandemic, we as an industry have lost a lot of women workforce to the demands of domesticity and now that we are coming out of this phase, there is a dire need to infuse fresh energy and inspiration into the environment, to help women find their feet back, or get their growth plans back on track.”
“FCB’s new initiative is all about inspiring women, especially in the marketing and advertising divisions, and motivating them to perform better at leadership roles,” as per Banerjee.
"When I was given the opportunity to advance and handle two divisions, India and South East Asia, I decided to take that up because I thought that I could be one of the few women that are in leadership positions and actually make a difference by becoming a role model to women who need to look up to somebody," said Chadha.
Commenting on how one can maintain a balance between home and work, Narang said, “Being a mother in itself is a full-time job and growing a business, which is just like your baby, alongside is a big challenge in itself. But I think it’s all about showing up every day and trying your best in doing whatever you can while accepting that it is not going to be seamlessly perfect always.”
“My role model is my mother and the way she managed her career and things at home, motivated me to do the same. It was later that I realised that I’m here to make different choices and that I couldn’t do everything,” said Chadha.
The leaders also dwelled on how times have changed a lot since the 80s and things aren’t the same anymore. While it is the society who wants women to do-it-all, one cannot just ignore the fact that women are humans too and thus cannot multitask 24x7, they said.
Adding on to this notion, Chadha highlighted the necessity of dropping the guilt and stepping away from the roles assigned to women by the society when she said, “I don’t want to feel bad or guilty about not doing the things that I don’t like, be it cooking or organising a party, I can always get someone to do that for me. But it’s all about stop feeling the guilt and move ahead.”
“The way a woman is expected to do all things at the same time is just over-glorified. It really depletes and exhausts you and it does take away your focus and you can just not live in the moment and perform in the best way when you are multitasking,” added Narang.
When asked about whether they have ever hit rock-bottom and felt like giving it all up, Chadha and Narang both agreed by saying that they have experienced it in their lives. “Entrepreneurship is a rollercoaster journey that challenges you like nothing I’ve ever known. You have your family, work and all these expectations from people in the society, and that sort of makes you feel heavy and guilty and at times, it just becomes too much,” according to Narang.
“There was a time when I was the only woman in the leadership team and the expectations changed and I became a mom. It was then that I ended up getting a coach and when he saw me, he believed in me and pushed me. The motivation from a third-party member, someone not from work or from my family, helped me gain a fresh perspective and re-instilled my self-confidence and brought me back on track,” elaborated Chadha.
Furthermore, Banerjee not only agreed to this but also highlighted how women do not feel comfortable opening up and specifically asking people for help, and that’s where women from all ages struggle because they don’t want someone to judge them and think less of them.
Also, replying to what brings her back to the game when she feels like she has hit ground-zero, Narang said, “For me purpose is something that has always made me stand up again and being passionate about pets, I just feel like that me and my team can actually change the way people connect with animals and the joy that it brings to me is just unparalleled.”
Commenting on what is the attitude of people when they see a women founder, since there are very few of them in India, Narang said, “When I questioned my investors and everyone in the workspace as to why aren’t there ample women founders in India, they said it is because there aren’t enough women coming forward onto the table because they are afraid that they won’t be given the same opportunities as men.”
“When I first moved to India from the US, there were a lot of women telling me what I should wear and how I should work, since I’m a woman who is working in the financial services, and that I should maybe wear a saree when I meet clients. While I appreciate the cultural sanctity, I feel like one should really feel like themselves in the workplace,” responded Chadha when asked about whether she has faced any condescending comment or behaviour since she is a ‘woman’ working in the field of ‘tech’.
As the popular saying goes, behind every successful person there is a strong support system and what better support system than your own family and your own partner. But in the real world, not everybody has the same pros and cons and what may seem to be a struggle to one might mean a very miniscule stressor to someone and vice versa.
When asked about what has been her support system throughout, Narang pointed that her husband, who works alongside her at Heads Up For Tails, has been a massive support system for her and he really picks her up and understands her whenever she feels a bit low and she also does the same for him. Agreeing with what Narang said, Chadha shared an anecdote where her husband actually told her not to worry and be confident without even talking to her in the first place, since she had an airtight schedule.
“It is what we think about ourselves which can lift us up or weigh us down and what puts us within or outside the boundaries that we have made for ourselves, so working a lot on yourself and constantly learning from others’ experiences is what leads you to success,” as per Narang.
Since Chadha and Narang both are amongst the very few women leaders of the country, they would like to see more women coming forward and climbing up the stairs in their careers. When asked about what would be the one thing that women leaders must do, Narang said, “Grow more leaders. Since we have been able to reach where we are, it is our biggest responsibility to pass it on,” and Chadha replied, “Be more demanding.”
Chadha and Narang also highlighted that organisations should realise and deal with the necessity of providing mentorship to the employees who are in need, and formulate policies by thinking of them as ‘people and not human resources’.
On a concluding note, Narang also spoke about how companies should actually leave the door open and allow everyone to feel safe to walk up to the management and speak up about the issues that they are facing in their professional life.