I come from the North East corner of India- a state called Assam. The small town I was born in, Digboi, has claimed its place on the global map as one of the oldest oil refineries in the world. Life was wonderful until September of 1984, when Life threw a curved ball at us. I lost my father. My mother, younger sister and I moved towns, to carve out a new life.
The years that followed taught me lessons on leadership, on strength, on overcoming fear, and always following the path I believe in.
My professional life began on December 2, 1996. When I walked into HTA Calcutta as a Management Trainee.
HTA, now JWT, was the leading advertising agency in the country.
Over the years, I have worked in the agency’s Mumbai and Delhi offices, in leadership roles on some of the key businesses.
I now head WPP GTB India. We partner Ford globally.
My work has shaped me, as well as my way of thinking. I am passionate about diversity at work, about women empowerment leading to productivity, about creativity that shifts the needle for the brand and business. I feel the industry needs more women at the top. And we have to do everything to make this happen.
The summer of 2004 was unforgettable for me. I was one of the 12 Indian women to be selected for the prestigious British Chevening scholarship in the U.K. It was a turning point in my life. I was a student for four months, and went back to classrooms and professors. The course was on Women and Leadership. We met prominent women in the U.K, talked about their experiences, and we went on study tours across the country.
Life took another turn for me in 2005. I became a mother to a beautiful girl, Zoya. I worked till two days before she was born and came back to work in 90 days. I did that because work drives me and keeps me going. I realised that as a professional, we have to find a way out to manage life and work in a way that does not compromise either.
In 2016, I was invited to Harvard Business School as a speaker on Trends in India Marketing, in the India Conference. It was a very special moment for me. I felt great about getting an opportunity of making my agency and industry proud.
Life and work for me are strongly intertwined. I walk in with a smile every day. When I look back at the last twenty years, there have been highs and not so highs. Times when I made mistakes – I am even embarrassed to write about that here. Days when I walked out teared up. Overall, it is one happy journey for me when it comes to my work and my agency. I am actively involved in encouraging women at work, to push themselves to overcome all constraints. A diverse team results in diversity of ideas, and that is the only way we can be productive.
My favourite quote: The strength of a woman lies in being who we are!