IICC 2021 or the India Impact Communication Conclave 2021 was recently presented by Comms News in association with Scroll Mantra Private Limited, 80 dB Communications and Kommune Brand Communications.
With a Women’s Day Special theme, the conclave comprised of five panels of powerful speakers and moderators – all women leaders in the world of communications.
This report is about the fourth panel, which discussed ‘Careers, clarity and confidence – Charting the way forward’. The speakers in the session were Shaily Vaswani – Aditya Birla Group; Shweta Munjal – Lupin; Mona Kwatra – L&T Financial, Jasmin Pithawala – Boston Consulting Group, and Neha Mehrotra – Avian WE. Abhilasha Padhy of 80 dB Communications moderated the session.
What is professional success?
Thus began the discussion. For Kwatra, success is an equation involving the funding of her personal or professional goals, being the best at what she does and demanding respect and regard. For Vaswani, it is about maintaining the right balance between professional and personal, and being focused on what she wants to achieve. Pithawala said her success is her voice being heard at the table. For Mehrotra, success is leading with empathy and authenticity, while for Munjal, success is, at the end of the day, finding the time to take care of herself.
Padhy then asked the next important question around clarity. Kwatra kickstarted this part of the session with an insightful take. She pointed out that even when we think we have clarity about where we are headed, we actually don’t. Because the road ahead is lined with speed bumps and roadblocks that we cannot, at times, anticipate. Therefore, it is essential that we are agile when we’re setting goals for ourselves. We must have short-term and long-term goals – both professional and personal. When something doesn’t work out, we must have the agility to try something new. On the other hand, if something is working out well for us, we shouldn’t think about moving on to something else just because that’s the norm or people say so.
Vaswani takes a look back at when she began her career – back then, success was not the goal. Rather, finding a space for themselves in the nascent stages of the profession was the goal. She reminds us that we live in a world replete with vices, we have to deal with deeply embedded stereotypes within our culture and society. Accepting our immediate realities, accepting what we really want to do with our lives bring us clarity. Nothing brings clarity like one experiencing one’s own life.
Pithawala seconded that thought, adding, that nothing remains constant. We all grow and evolve. For example, women of today are more aspirational than ever before – they’re constantly focused on the next stage of growth. But there is no substitute for experience – it is unique to us. And, when you think about it, our experiences are what we ultimately stand for.
Cultural biases at work
The panellists didn’t dwell much on whether they faced gender bias in the workplace; they did something better – they advised the audience to just stop thinking about it because that just diminishes self-confidence. What is all boils down to is whether we can speak with authority and prove ourselves factually. Some of us may be more reserved than others by nature, but we must make sure our contributions don’t go unnoticed. If we continue to deliver positive results that are measurable, we’ll be valued.
Importance of mentorship
Munjal talks about something beyond what we usually hear about mentorship. She says, while we must have a mentor outside of the organisation we’re working with, we must also find a sponsor for ourselves inside of the organisation who will support our journey within the organisation when we are convinced that we are on the right path.
Advice to younger selves
The session drew to a close in a heart-warming way with our speakers reconnecting with their younger selves – telling them to keep upgrading themselves, to be more vocal about their achievements, to learn to say ‘no’ when it’s necessary, and most importantly, to have a relationship with their own selves.
Mehrotra warmly and caringly asks her younger self to stop being so hard on herself. She encourages her to be more curious, to always keep that fire in her belly burning and not get discouraged by people who try to demean her.
Session coverage by Sulagna Chakraborty