The W-Suite | Women leaders have always been about substance: Rati Shetty

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. 

Gone are the days when the thinking was more on the lines of ‘get a man to do this job’. 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. 

Product launches. Go-to-market strategy. Consumer understanding. If there were ever three phrases that were synonymous with Rati Shetty, Chief Product Officer & Co-founder, BankBazaar, it is these. “Raising the bar” perhaps got hardwired into her DNA during her Toblerone experience at Kraft Foods, where she unwrapped product launches with finesse and fervour. Stints in the US, Brazil and Taiwan have lent a global flavour to this tenacious marketer’s profile. At, Shetty brings the same doggedness to product conceptualisation and refinement as she puts ideas through the hoops and uncorks trailblazer product concepts that one can’t help but bite into. 

What defines a woman leader in today’s ecosystem?
The qualities of leadership in today’s ecosystem or the ecosystem of any other time are the same regardless of gender. The potential and qualities required to build, establish and sustain a business are gender neutral. The qualities that define a woman leader are exactly the same as those that would define any leader – passion, vision, focus and dedication, patience and integrity. 

Why do you think a smaller percentage of women than men reach the top of their professions?
This is a scenario that is fast changing. I think we should focus on the positive trends that we’re seeing in the industry. Women leaders are the quickest growing segment among self-employed entrepreneurs. Isn’t that saying a lot? There’s a marked change in the overall industry mindset. Today’s workplaces are far more sensitive towards women than ever before. Companies offer several women-friendly policies and BankBazaar has been raising the bar in this regard too. With tremendous skill and innate resilience, more and more women will blaze a trail to the top. 

Do you think women leaders are still scrutinised as much for style as for substance?
Women leaders have always been about substance, which is why they’ve made an impression. Women are extremely resilient and quickly learn to work around obstacles in their paths and move ahead. With determination, vision and passion, any leader makes an impression – gender doesn’t really have a role to play here. 

Do you think the leadership effectiveness of women is higher than men? Why?
The qualities of effective leadership are the same regardless of gender. A good leader exhibits qualities of passion, vision, focus and dedication, patience and integrity. 

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 qualities of women leaders remain the same. Women leaders today are as effective, resilient, innovative and passionate as their counterparts from 80’s and 90’s. The only difference really has been the change in the industry and the landscape of opportunities available to both men and women leaders today, which has been enabled by rapid advancement in technology, shifts in consumer behaviour and so forth. 

How do you maintain a balance between career goals and family responsibilities? How frequently do you have to sacrifice one for the other?
Career goals and shouldering family responsibilities are actually complementary to each other. One does not need to sacrifice one for the other. The bottom line is that it all boils down to efficient time management. With good planning, time management and 100 per cent focus, I get the maximum possible done whether I’m at home or at work, in the minimum time. Overall, it comes down to effectively managing people and time and optimising the things you are required to do with complete focus. 

Do you think pay parity exists in our corporates today across levels? What about pay parity at the leadership levels?
Pay parity does exist in our corporates today across levels, on a far greater scale than before. Workplaces today are much more gender-neutral and more sensitive towards women than before. The representation of women in corporate boardrooms may still be small, but that number is increasing given there’s no dearth of capable and qualified women. Given this positive trend, there’s no reason why pay parity at the leadership levels will not be a widespread reality soon. 

What would be your advice to women aiming for the C-suite?
My advice to women aiming for the C-suite wouldn’t be any different from advice for women aiming for any kind of success in life. Never think that your gender is a limitation. Be dedicated and focussed in your efforts. Dare to dream beyond the present and never settle for status quo. Raise the bar for your own vision, be true to yourself and your work and go full steam ahead. There is no shortcut to success. It takes time, planning, patience and passion. Have absolute determination, clear vision, powerful passion, and pounce on opportunities and the world is your oyster. 

What, according to you, are the 3 important lessons new women leaders need to learn?
There are no shortcuts to effective leadership – it takes time, planning and dedication. Always have a vision – with persistence, dedication and a process-oriented approach, anything is possible. And finally, never stop seeking opportunities to learn – even failure should be looked at as an opportunity to fix or repair processes so as to scale up.


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