The W-Suite | Being aggressive doesn’t make you a b*t*h: Pooja Jauhari

With a rapidly evolving business and economic landscape there is a dire requirement of fresh thinking, new skill sets, greater flexibility & adaptability, more collaboration as well as the ability to think on one’s feet. 

Diversity in the workforce has become a necessity today, and more so in the leadership positions. It can’t be denied that women bring a high level of creativity and empathy while solving problems and handling crises. Women leaders bring to the table a different level of dexterity. 

AdGully’s ‘The W-Suite’ series features interactions with influential women leaders in India, who share some deep insights on what being a woman leader means in India’s business landscape, the mantras to succeed, achieving work-life balance, pay parity and much more. 

CEO, marketing connoisseur, digital entrepreneur, pet lover – Pooja Jauhari, CEO, The Glitch, dons several hats. As a digital native, it was only natural for Jauhari to believe that digital will soon drive all business. Her focus remains to develop an ecosystem where brands can rely on purpose led creative sans platform to move the needle for their business and brand needs. 

Starting her career at Unilever and going on to JWT and Worldwide Media (WWM), Jauhari has entrenched herself in every function at The Glitch. She has built lethal skill set across business growth, strategic planning, content and media. As the CEO at the Glitch, Jauhari has built a method to the madness, streamlining the agency’s goals and approach, read ownership of every brand it takes on. The testament of her success lies in the growth of The Glitch for the past four years to now being considered one of India’s top 10 agencies. 

What defines a woman leader in today’s ecosystem?
Let’s look at this question outside of the corporate structure and define a woman – she is someone who has the ability to nurture, handle tough situations with planning and intellect, all of this managed with a healthy serving of balanced emotions and the ability to be logical and solution-orientated. While focusing on the growth of the people around her and her family. In this case, replace family with company and isn’t that what leaders are about? 

Why do you think a smaller percentage of women than men reach the top of their professions?
I just had a baby, hence this is fresh and the answer is support, support, support. If she has the support at home, that all family responsibilities are not just on her, she will be able to focus on her career as much as men have been expected to, rather allowed to do. Support from her organisation, so that she is not just a bag of emotions who can’t be at the helm of affairs and handle situations with calm intelligence, compared to a male peer. And overall change in perception from society, so that leaving her family to focus on herself for a few hours a day doesn’t make her a bad mother, wife, daughter or daughter-in-law! 

Do you think women leaders are still scrutinised as much for style as for substance?
Of course, however in my experience it’s not that men aren’t scrutinised for the same. 

Do you think the leadership effectiveness of women is higher than men? Why?
I don’t believe this is gender based, but just about individual capabilities. We’ve had good and bad male leaders and the same goes for women. Their styles are different, but both are equally capable of it.  

Women leaders in the 80’s and 90’s and women leaders today - what are the key differences? And what are the things that haven’t changed much?
The key difference is the opportunities we get. Women at that time had bigger battles to fight to just even be allowed to work, and if allowed to work, then the opportunities they had. What hasn’t changed is the pressure we put on women. If women choose to work, then they are just expected to be great at work, but drop no responsibilities at home. Aren’t we always asked how we do it? Manage both work and family! 

How do you maintain a balance between career goals and family responsibilities? How frequently do you have to sacrifice one for the other?
I’m grateful that if this same question were to be asked to my equally successful husband, our answer would have been the same. We balance our family responsibilities TOGETHER. We don’t have defined roles, and we take on extra if the other has something additional to focus on at work. Because of this, there is no sacrifice, just adjustments. We work very, very hard to make sure that we meet all our individual personal and professional goals, and expectations are aligned. 

Do you think pay parity exists in our corporate today across levels? What about pay parity at the leadership levels?
I have never experienced this, however I’m aware of a few cases. In my experience across all the companies I’ve worked with, the pay is directly proportional to an individual’s capability. 

What would be your advice to women aiming for the C-suite?
Ladies, it’s important to be planners. Most of us want everything right, all personal milestones and professional achievements. That requires serious planning. For: 1) invest your years in a company that values you and is as invested in your growth, 2) if you choose to get married, find a partner who believes in you as a professional and doesn’t slow you down with archaic gender responsibilities, 3) believe in yourself, that no matter what, you are equally capable of leading a company, and lastly, 4) don’t hold yourself back; whatever others may say, being aggressive doesn’t make you a b*t*h, being in control of your tasks doesn’t make you a control FREAK, and to do well professionally, you don’t have to give up anything personally. 

What, according to you, are the 3 important lessons new women leaders need to learn?
The same points I made above:

  • Invest your years in the right company. Be smart and clear about your growth opportunities.
  • Choose the right partner if you want a marriage. Someone who believes in you and doesn’t hold you back.
  • Don’t get bogged down by terms like, bitchy, control freak, PMS, etc., focus on what you believe is right. Be self aware, but never stop yourself.

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