Crisis management or multi-tasking is not a gender thing: Rumi Ambastha

We, at Adgully, have always saluted and honoured women managers and leaders across diverse fields. W-SUITE is a special initiative from Adgully that has been turning the spotlight on some of the most remarkable women achievers in the M&E, Advertising, Marketing, PR and Communications industry. In the refurbished series, we seek to find out how women leaders have been managing their teams and work as well as how they have been navigating through the toughest and most challenging times brought about by the global pandemic.

The 4th edition of Women Disruptors is all set to return soon. This initiative from Adgully endeavours to highlight the trailbrazing women leaders in India. Entries are now open. Click here to send in your nominations.

In conversation with Adgully, Rumi Ambastha, Director - Brand Marketing, The Man Company, speaks about the huge shift in female representation in leadership roles, her most effective leadership lessons, providing equal opportunity for all genders, and more.

How do you think the role and scope of women leaders has widened in the current market ecosystem?

If I compare to the times when I started my career which was well over a decade and a half ago to today, I definitely see a huge shift in female representation in leadership roles and there's no denying it but the bigger question is has it reached equal representation and are we okay with the speed? My answer to both is no. It definitely gives me joy to see females at the position of decision makers, founders, investors, hiring managers and so on but companies need to make policies to have equal representation of all genders otherwise it will always remain an afterthought or just lip service.

What have been your major learnings from the pandemic period?

We are a resilient lot! Everything that we thought was normal was turned upside down. It was like in the middle of the game somebody changed all the rules. The Maslow's Hierarchy of needs got rehauled for all of us. Restricted social contact, heightened sense of safety, limited travel and increased me time. All of these things made us realise what was at the core of work and life which is that you need empathy. Connecting online with customers to ultimately convert them, the only thing that is required is empathy and humanity.

What is your mantra for maintaining a successful work-life balance in the new normal? According to you, what makes women the best in crisis management?

After working for so many years in this industry and loving what you do, deriving happiness from your work makes you blur the lines between personal and professional, so I don’t look at it as two separate beings which need to be in two separate boxes. I rather look at it as we-time and me-time. My me-time starts whenever my we-team ends. My me-time is peppered with solving puzzles, short vacations or just lounging at home with a book or cooking something challenging on weekends.

I truly don’t believe crisis management or multitasking is a gender thing. I think it’s just the qualities that we possess that makes our approach slightly empathetic and patient.

What are the five most effective leadership lessons that you have learned?

  • Don’t be afraid - If you know in your heart that you are right, then don’t be afraid of voicing your opinions no matter who is on the other side of the table.
  • Be yourself - I know it sounds a bit clichéd, but you don’t have to act like a man or act like someone you know because you think that approach might work. Make your own rules, your own values, your own way of working.
  • Hire a great team - You are nothing without the support of a great team. Hire people who are opinionated, who are passionate, who are quiet, who are smart workers, who are hard workers. Surround yourself with a great team and witness magic happen.
  • There are battles and then there are wars - The art is to know which is which. As a leader you will be faced with multiple challenges on a daily basis and not everything requires the same amount of energy. So, knowing which one is a battle and which one is a war will help you manage your time well.
  • Listen - If you just listen to your peers, to your bosses, to your team, to your customers, half the problems will automatically get resolved. Sometimes your most critical customer just wanted to be heard.

Gender sensitivity and inclusion in the new normal – how can organisations effectively encourage and groom women leaders in challenging times?

Different genders need and require different sensitivities. We all are wired differently and the beauty and success of any company lies in this diversity. What we should aim for is not extra opportunity for one gender, but equal opportunity for all genders. Talent, skill and passion should be the yardstick to hire anybody for any department and any role and not the gender. Dismissing or purposefully ignoring someone on the basis of gender has to be shunned, then only real progress will begin.


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