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How Isobar is pushing ahead with women empowerment at the workplace

Isobar is one of the few companies which acknowledge the lack of women leadership and that is not just about leadership, but also encouraging women oriented talent. Isobar started the Women’s Council in 2016 with the aim of getting women together and addressing their problems, helping them work better and giving them the flexibility to perform as per their capabilities. 

Grooming women for leadership roles 

There is no conscious effort made to especially groom women leaders at Isobar. It is all about giving chances to the right kind of people irrespective of their gender. 

Adding another dimension to it, Priyanka Shah, Senior Director - Mobile, Isobar, said, “Approachability is very important for leaders, because the minute you have that fencing around you, people would think 100 times before they come and talk to you, and it gets difficult to pass on your learnings when you have that fence.” 

For Prachi Karan, Senior Director - Media, Isobar, some important leadership qualities that need to be honed include patience, intuition, staying true to the course and being thorough in one’s work. 

In this two-part special feature report, four women leaders at Isobar share their experiences at the agency, as well as insights and views on women empowerment in the industry, pay parity, sexual harassment at workplace and more. 

Priyanka Shah, Senior Director - Mobile, Isobar 

“My journey at Isobar has been very fulfilling as well as very exciting. When I joined Isobar, there was no mobile unit as such and the whole vision of Shams was to make Isobar mobile forward and how I could help them get there and start a whole new revolution in media. 

I was the first one to establish the mobile team at Isobar and as we started taking it forward, we focussed on the creative aspect of mobile and how to grab the user’s attention in a short span of time. Apart from the inventory planning, we worked on how to crack new mediums on mobile for innovations and brand integrations, and that’s how I envisioned the mobile-media marriage. Coming from an engineering background, technology really excites me and hence, I love marrying brands with technology and mobile.” 

Highlights of the journey at Isobar 

“I started working with Isobar in 2016. Prior to that, the agency had not won notable mobile awards. The main highlight came in 2017, when we won the Campaign Asia, Mobile Agency of the Year Award. Though a Silver, it was a good start and we established ourselves in the mobile ecosystem. 

The second highlight was personal one, when I was listed amongst the Top 25 mobile women to watch in 2017 globally. I was the only Indian who got featured in it. Isobar has helped me do a lot of crazy stuff.” 

Achievements & accolades 

“I have been in the mobile industry for 9 years now. I started my career in mobile product building and built M-Education and M-Health on the voice platform for Vodafone and Airtel, which won a lot of awards in the telecom industry. 

We won almost all the mobile awards that were there during 2014-16 while I was part of the mobile team at HUL. These included a campaign for Wheel featuring Salman Khan and the Kan Khajura Tesan initiative, which was applauded at Cannes Lions. 

I then joined Ogilvy India’s newly created mobile team. It was gratifying to be declared Mobile Agency of the Year at Adgully’s DIGIXX Awards. That was also when I won India’s top digital planner award which was by DMA. Post that when I joined Isobar, we won quite a few awards – Emvies, Maddies, and Smarties, among others.” 

Work-Life balance 

“I would be lying if I said it was easy. Sometimes it takes a toll on you, but the best part is that I really love what I do and so it makes my job a little easy. Also, when you have a good partner and a supportive family, it is easier to manage a work-life balance. The senior members of Isobar have always been supportive about everything, they really give you that leverage and they have trust in your leadership.” 

Challenges faced while stepping into leadership role 

“It was more of an industry challenge of how mobile was taking over the whole digital ecosystem. While everyone was very laptop friendly and used to think from a laptop-desktop point of view, mobile was a different ballgame all together – it was not just the small screen size, but so many software and the treatment of Android, and within Android there are different phone makes supporting different technology. Thus, your creative rendering on each and every screen has to be planned and is unlike the desktop. The first challenge was how to shift that thinking from desktop to a mobile first platform across segments – be it media planning, creative, technology. 

It was another challenge to make the clients believe in mobile, but as I delivered one case study, others came by pretty easily after that.” 

Madhura Ranade, Director - Client Servicing, Isobar 

“I came on board Isobar in May 2016 specifically for the Maruti Suzuki account. The journey has been incredible because it’s not every day that you get a chance to work with such a big brand. Recently, I have started looking at client servicing as a whole and now lead client servicing for all the other brands in Isobar’s Gurgaon branch.” 

Highlights of the journey at Isobar 

“Handling Maruti Suzuki was the biggest responsibility that was entrusted to me, which I can definitely count as a key highlight because it came rather early in my career. A few launches on the brand side were also some of the best highlights in my career. It’s not something that everybody gets to experience.” 

Achievements & accolades 

“There are a couple of achievements and accolades that I have achieved last year, starting with Campaign India Young Achiever of the Year award in 2017. I also won the Client Lead of the Year 2017. In February 2018, I was featured in Impact 30 Under 30 list.” 

Work-Life balance 

“In terms of work-life balance, while it gets difficult, it is definitely not something which is not achievable. While a lot of people think that it is up to the company to be able to help people in managing this, but I think it also depends on the individual, on how well we manage our lives.” 

Challenges faced while stepping into leadership role 

“People by and large need to understand that a person has been given a promotion because he/she deserves it. Not only in Isobar, but across the industry, I think, it’s more like a perception thing. It’s not something that can be called as a challenge, but yes, it is definitely something which bothers a lot.” 

Prachi Karan, Senior Director - Media, Isobar 

“I am heading Media and Strategy for the West region at Isobar and it’s been a very incredible and exciting journey. I have got the opportunity to work on a plethora of clients in different categories and have also got a lot of exposure and support as well.” 

Highlights of the journey at Isobar 

“Being a woman leader, I have got a lot of support in business. There’s no discrimination when it comes to gender at Isobar, growth is purely based on talent and the opportunities. 

In fact, even before the government announced the 6-months maternity leave policy, Isobar had already implemented that policy. What’s more, if a woman employee wants to extend her maternity leave or even take a sabbatical for about a year, she will still get her old job back at Isobar.” 

Achievements & accolades 

“I am part of the coveted DAN Route 500 program, which is a global high-potential talent development program designed by Dentsu Aegis Network. In 2017 and so far in 2018, the digital media work that I have led or have been an active part of, has gone on to win several prestigious awards.” 

Work-life balance 

“Generally, people have this perception that those who work in agencies have a terrible work-life balance. While that is true, it also is changing as we voluntarily take steps to ensure a better work-life balance. One of the simplest things that we can do – which I also follow – is having an early start to the day. It helps me be more productive in my work and actually reduces the time I take to complete tasks. I also use organisers and calendars to plan my day better.” 

Aakriti Sinha, Director - Social, Isobar 

“The journey has been enriching and fulfilling with a lot of learning. I started off as a social media manger, and am now handling the entire social media practice at Isobar. The flat structure and hierarchy at Isobar have really helped me grow not just in the social media vertical, but overall as well. I consider myself as one of the key members who have been there for the last 5 years and have seen Isobar growing and becoming the No. 1 agency. The journey has been rollercoaster one.” 

Highlights of the journey at Isobar

“I joined the agency in 2015. Though there are several highlights, one that I would like to mention is that I was given the power to not restrict myself in terms of thinking and ideation. Literally, we have been given social media wings and we haven’t really compartmentalised it.” 

Achievements & accolades

“I’m a published author and have written a coffee table book, titled ‘Let’s Know Dances of India’. I am a member of Route 500, Dentsu Aegis Network’s global leadership program. I basically come from a PR and mainline media background, so my transformation into digital has been a nice journey.” 

Work-life balance

“Isobar has work time flexibility. We have processes in place at Isobar that ensure a proper work-life balance with which team members can work out.” 

Challenges faced while stepping into leadership role

“Digital is very a dynamic field, where every second new updates are happening. Thus, you need to be updated about the trends, educate the clients and make sure that the partners are up to date with the trends in order to provide quality output.”

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