I believe leadership is an action rather than a position: Dr Smita Pankaj Naram

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 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.

Smita Pankaj Naram is the Co-Founder of Ayushakti, one of the leading and most trusted ayurvedic health centres around the world. A well-accomplished Ayurvedic physician, pharmaceutical herbalist, and nutritionist, Dr Naram started this journey of bringing in Ancient Health Solution with a vision to transform the health of billions of people on this planet in 1987. Since then, Ayushakti has helped more than 1.5 million clients across the world and transformed their lives with vibrant health and long-lasting relief from chronic health challenges.

In conversation with Adgully, Dr Smita Pankaj Naram, Co-Founder of Ayushakti, speaks about women leadership and the glass labyrinth, how the pandemic has changed businesses, gender sensitivity and more.

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

When discussing working women or women in leadership positions, the term “glass ceiling” always comes up. The concept of a glass ceiling describes a barrier women face in their day-to-day lives or have faced in the business world and on personal grounds. However, some argue that the glass has been broken, while others argue the opposite. Women may now be confronted with a glass labyrinth rather than a glass ceiling. But the situation has been improving; many women are coming forward to chase their dreams, and the thinking of the masses has been changing gradually.

I feel the change we happened to see during the pandemic is equally advantageous for us, we got the much-needed opportunity during lockdown to spread our wings and show the world the potential and the efforts women can put into, be it home, academic results or business. We, women, know how to excel in any field!

As a business owner, I would like to advise upcoming women entrepreneurs to first believe in themselves and be decisive in whatever they do, it is very important to set a goal or a vision that you believe in and would like your organisation to accomplish, with some right amount of research on your targeted market and audience will help moving forward. Confidence, determination, and passion will help you reach your end goal. And I strongly believe in never giving up and overcoming all challenges with courage.

What have been your major learnings from the pandemic period?

We all know that COVID-19 hit the world hard, completely changing our lives and forcing us to stay inside our houses. Because of this, we looked back at our ancient science in the form of natural food supplements and home remedies. This brought us back to our kitchens and made us realise the importance of Ayurveda, the 5,000-year history of Ayurveda, to boost our immunity and find ways to live a safe and healthy life.

My major learning during the pandemic was that one should never underestimate their well-being. Health is not achieved overnight, just like success; you must work on it to achieve it! I am sure many of us realised it.

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?

As an entrepreneur, there is a lot of pressure to constantly do better for our organisation. I always keep myself focused and work efficiently to maintain the right balance. Also, one thing that motivates me the most while working is contributing to the lives of those suffering from illness. However, I have always prioritised my health and believed in following a healthy lifestyle by following the right diet plan and exercising daily to release stress and remain fit. I always do detox once a year for the best of my health.

Regarding why women are the best in crisis management, we have observed that they are receptive to learning things early in life; this drives them to sharpen their expertise in separate areas and prepare for the crisis in future. Colleagues, family, friends, and companies around women can benefit from this quality if they give an opportunity to women to prove themselves.

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

A good leader will always lead with humility, have the ability to listen, be open to taking advice and opinion from their team members, admit when they are (leader) wrong, and most importantly, never give up learning new things and always be curious to know more.

I believe leadership is an action rather than a position, and you can achieve anything at any age.

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

Women are more likely to leave school because they must choose between parenting and career growth. Enterprises must retain the pace with hybrid work environments in offer a network of support. Even gender values that no one believed could be carried off theoretically are now being done at least as well as they were in person during the pandemic. In some areas, locality bias has been addressed by the pandemic, which has advanced the change in thinking. As a result, when we try to phase out the pandemic, we should allow time for female employees to adjust so that they can strike a balance between their responsibilities at home and work.

Therefore, understanding workplace differences and encouraging everyone to provide their best effort is key. Women don’t require excessive credit or encouragement, but if we are attempting to do anything, don’t stop us.


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