- By Dwaipayan, 29 October 2020 | 11 MIN READ
Time immemorial, women have overcome odds and challenged adversity. Aspiring women leaders, who often start from scratch and face a bewildering array of options and tough performance expectations –The pace has picked up, today, women are trendsetting in an all-powerful avatar like never before!
In this edition of Binspired, we bring to our readers an exclusive interview with Ms. Anindita Mookerjee Sinha, Head - Corporate Communications, L&T Metro Rail (Hyderabad) Limited.
She has been the harbinger of the change for the brands which she worked for – A communicator par excellence, who has gathered many a feather in her cap during her career. She has won the CII IWN Excellence in Leadership Award, PRCI National Hall of Fame, PRSI Global Leadership Award, & Transformance Business Media’s Women Leader in the Field of Communication, amongst few others.
Having worked in Public Sector Undertaking like AAI, Pvt sectors like MIAL-GVK as Spokesperson for CSMIA, GHIAL-GMR as Head of the Corporate Communications and now heading Corporate Communication L&TMRHL, is known for her hands-on experience in handling the trickiest of situations during a crisis. All made possible because of her ability to take assertive initiatives, with unbridled passion backed by strong beliefs and willpower.
When you look back at your career growth, what skills have helped you to reach the position you’re holding now?
So far so good, I began my career in the Aviation sector in the Department of Operations. Operation is a crucial department in this sector. I handled a wide-ranging task starting from entry of flight data, managing arrivals, front office, baggage survey, announcements to updating flight status. Meticulous precision is crucial for execution, there are no rooms for mistakes, any error could jeopardize the operations at the airports. The work and position demanded a lot of dedication, alertness, always being-on-the-toes, being polite, fast, and multitasking.
Sooner, I moved to Corporate Communications, an equally challenging role where I had to keep abreast about the company/business and the learning window needed to be always wide open, demonstrating ownership and responsibility. Therefore, I had to develop the ‘right’ attitude to work towards it, particularly during the initial days.
I religiously believe that one should learn to work hands-on to progress in life and to move up the career ladder. This is the only way to be in control of everything. As a team leader, in case of any emergency, one can deliver independently and turn the adverse situation under control. Current affairs and networking skills should be a strong forte for a communication professional.
In Corporate Communication, I need to deal with multiple stakeholders and understand the pulse of the audience and respond according to what different channels expect from me. We must have different strategies to deal with different target audiences, and most importantly we must develop a work-life balance.
As a professional, what is your take on women empowerment?
Our society has conditioned women that certain jobs are not for women or that women cannot do them. But times have changed, we have women taking up high positions in Army, Air Force, space, to mining. If we think we are equal to men, priority should not always dominate your thought. We should try to perceive our inner strength and fight challenges and hurdles. First, women need to believe in themselves and their capabilities.
At Hyderabad Metro Rail, we have many women loco pilots, and it is encouraging that many women are taking up this job. They go through a lot of technical, psychometric, and analytical skill tests to qualify for this. The inaugural train that drove our Honourable Prime Minister, our Honourable Chief Minister, and other VIP delegates were driven by a woman loco pilot. Women’s empowerment comes from financial independence, education, and a safe environment. The message we pass on at L&TMRHL is inclusivity, gender diversity, and that women can take up crucial jobs.
We create awareness about women empowerment by focusing on women loco pilots through our social media handles as well, where we share photographs of them driving a train or being happy with what they are doing. Not only do we have women loco pilots, but we also have women officers and staff in prominent positions in our company. We also have women Margadarshaks or representatives who work closely with the police for women’s safety. An environment of safety is inculcated at the work-place through IC Committee for POSH, for which I am the Presiding Officer as well.
The initial COVID 19 outbreaks were major jolts for many corporates, a difficult time for all of us. How did you address the situation as a team leader?
You see in today’s rapidly changing business environment almost every company experiences crisis. The pandemic was chaotic in the initial phase, and there were setbacks. Hyderabad metro rail services were put on a halt from the 22nd of March to the 6th of September 2020. But then there is the brighter side of the story, the world has shrunk in terms of transnational communication owing to the revolution in technology. We fittingly utilized the opportunities to our advantage – Our first objective was providing a trusted space for the employees, to share information during the crisis. In such an unprecedented global crisis, being able to come together and benefit from each other’s experiences was the key to fight this tricky situation. We devised approaches to put our digital communication strategy in place. We were all connected most of the time through emails, phone, webinars, virtual platforms, teams meetings, ensuring that work should go on. The company played a phenomenal role in focusing on employee wellbeing and welfares during the lockdown. Talking about my department, we initiated several tactics to keep our audience in the centre of the whole shebang, we launched campaigns, creatives, regular social media posts, tweets, emailers; all these strategies facilitated a better social media engagement even in such a crunch. I believe, the problem comes as in opportunities and here we were successful to build and retain the public’s trust, not losing touch.
Indian Railways has approximately one lakh women employees, what are your viewpoints on this?
It is indeed heartening to know Indian Railways is one of the largest employers of women in the world. An Indian woman’s empowerment does not just mean only those features guaranteed under the Constitution. It also means more jobs, opportunities for entrepreneurship, facilities for education, increased safety, ease in day-to-day living, and protection of the girl child. In short, the road to women’s empowerment has several factors dotting its path.
Can you share a few “words of wisdom” on effective communication for our readers?
I strongly believe that communication is a blend of art and science, there should be an element of both creativity and strategy going hand in hand. Here I would like to quote George Bernard Shaw who once said, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has already taken place”. Why I’m bringing up the point is because when we are communicating to a large audience or perhaps during a one-to-one conversation, we must take care of the words and even body language we use, otherwise, it might hurt someone’s sentiment or be misinterpreted. Many a time we communicate things that are not necessary, and we are not even aware of the damage caused. Your words can create havoc to someone else’s life. We must pick words judiciously before it is penned down or uttered.
Personally, I love to be a reasonably transparent person, and I do interact with people from all arrays of life. Social networking is needed for a communication pro, and that’s the reason I have chosen corporate communication. It is buzzing with activities, newness, excitement and enthusiasm. One must be alert 24x7, in all verticals that come under Corp Comm. There is no space for laid back attitude and boredom here. If you’re seriously looking for a career in corporate communication – it’s worth it. I would also like to say that at times plans may not work the way you anticipate, don’t just quit! I believe failure is a learning platform, so accept it as the threshold to your success.
The nature of communication is diverse and is always evolving; keep in mind the technological innovations, be agile, and push yourself to collaborate with and adapt new ways effectively, being creative!
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