The W Suite | Need more female heroes in the boardrooms: Marya Shakil

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. 

Marya Shakil, Political Editor, CNN-News18, is an award-winning journalist. With a keen eye on the political landscape of the country, Shakil anchors CNN-News18’s 10 pm show, ‘News Epicentre’, and produces her election show, ‘Reporters Project’. She is one of the very few journalists to be followed on Twitter by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 

Shakeel’s show on the Muslim community yearning to be a part of the mainstream earned her the prestigious Ramnath Goenka Award in Politics and Government category in 2012. She also received the award in the same category for the Lok Sabha Election coverage of 2014. 

As a reporter who covers politics, Shakeel reported during the General Elections of 2009, 2014 and the State Assembly Elections of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Maharashtra, Delhi, Haryana and Jharkhand, etc. She joined CNN-News18 immediately after completing her Masters in Mass Communication from Jamia Millia Islamia AJK Mass Communication Research Centre in 2005. She was also awarded a research fellowship with SARAI-Centre for the Study of Developing Societies in 2004. She also won the prestigious Chevening South Asia Journalism Fellowship in 2016. She was the first TV journalist to report on the night of the clampdown of Baba Ramdev’s agitation at the Ramlila Maidan. Human interest stories and shows as commentaries on society are her forte, in which Shakeel has successfully contributed some of the best stories to the channel. She often takes workshops in media institutes in India. She enjoys interacting with aspiring students of mass communication and journalism. Travelling in the Hindi-heartland and learning from people is what she likes most.

How would you define today’s woman leader?
I think today’s women leaders are assertive and open-minded. They know what they bring on the table in boardrooms and hence, are fairly sure of themselves.  

What are the foremost attributes that women leaders in today’s business ecosystem must possess?
Women leaders must be able to think ahead of the time. At the same time, they must also be connected to the ground. This is because what I am increasingly seeing is that newsrooms and other places are becoming disconnected with the ground realities. So, the election reportage and all has to go back to the ground realities. I think a woman leader will be someone who would be connected in the time, as much as she is forward looking. For her, the biggest asset that she can bring on the table is her ground experiences. 

She might love reading books, but she should be able to bring in that freshness, and that freshness comes in from her own experiences from the ground. I always emphasis on the  ground work, because I have done a lot of ground reporting during the election times and the reason why I could get the pulse of the people right is because it’s not the same when you pick up on the Internet or the social media platforms. There is this echo chamber style that people comfort themselves or comfort each other on the Internet. It will be great for women leaders to have first hand information and she backing her information with the theoretical knowledge.  

Despite the qualifications, aptitude and experience, why do you think we don’t see the expected number of women business leaders, especially when it comes to boardroom decision-making?
I think women were not asserting themselves as much as they are doing it in the recent times. In the last 10 to 15 years, there have been a lot of positive changes. I feel the change that we are seeing the world over is because of strong feminist movement. For example, the #MeToo campaign. When women start taking comfort with each other and when they start understanding that they can become a Betty and Veronica and who can co-exist, that itself makes a huge difference. We will be seeing more and more women leaders in the coming days. 

As Maya Angelou very famously said, “I have got my own back”, so you have to watch your back. I am a big fan of Maya Angelou for her writings. She often says, ‘Like dust I rise’. I have always believed in that. In search of a female hero is what I think it is for me. Not tragic heroines, but female heroes is how I foresee women’s role in boardrooms. 

What more do Indian corporates need to do to encourage and groom women leaders?
There has to be an initiative that must be taken by the decision makers. An extra effort has to be made so that women take the centre stage. 

How acute is the gender pay gap issue in India today? What needs to be done to address this in an effective manner?
The gender pay gap is massive. But I think efforts are being made to bridge this gap. When women are taking leadership roles, they should be a little sensitive towards their partners or their co-workers. 

How challenging has it been for you to maintain a balance between career goals and family responsibilities? What is your mantra to maintain that balance?
It’s been very challenging, but I am very thankful that I have an extremely supportive husband. My father was very pushy, he was almost like a net so that I could jump very high. My husband is extremely understanding and pushy at the same time! 

Do you think the leadership effectiveness of women is higher than men? Why?
I think women bring in empathy, compassion and emotions to their work. I myself worked here for 13 years and often joke with my co-workers that the chairs and the carpets have changed, the newsrooms have changed, but some of us are still here. In an industry that believes in changing frequently, if you still feel that are you getting the script right, then it’s your commitment and you are emotionally attached. I’m a very emotional person, my professionalism and journalism is very emotional for me. I have an emotional attachment towards my journalism. 

According to you, what are the Do’s and Don’ts for today’s women to break through the glass ceiling?
I would say, just be at it. I know women have to put in extra efforts. For example, men can get away by putting in 4 hours, whereas women need to put in 10 hours. But don’t shy away, your time will come even if it is a bit delayed. I think women tend to give up their fights easily. 

Let women discover themselves.

For More Stories Visit Here.


News in the domain of Advertising, Marketing, Media and Business of Entertainment

More in Media