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The W Suite | Women leaders must know how to run a business: Tarunjeet Rattan

Tarunjeet Rattan, Managing Partner, Nucleus PR, started her career in Public Relations in Mumbai and has worked with some of the premier agencies in the country, where she spearheaded several national level projects and handled the public relations for various MNCs spread across sectors. After winning numerous accolades from clients and seniors for her work she joined the Publicity Division of Star India. In her over 18 years of experience in the profession, Rattan has worked largely across channels, consumer and FMCG brands, lifestyle projects, non-profit organisations and automobiles verticals. 

Along with working out clear communication goals, she excels at strategising and delivering relevant media counsel that forms the core of an effective communication strategy. She spearheads and oversees all projects at Nucleus PR. 

Rattan is also the founder of PRPOI (Public Relations Professionals of India | 3,900+ members) – a platform dedicated to the enhancing the knowledge levels of the PR industry. 

How would you define today’s women leader?
I would define today’s women leaders as somebody who combines determination with ambition and smartness. In today’s day and age, they do have all these qualities within them and they carry it well too !

What are the foremost attributes that women leaders in today’s business ecosystem must possess?
I believe the first thing they must possess is knowledge about that particular domain. Knowledge and research about what they are getting into and how they would like to go about it. I cannot stress enough about how important it is to research and collect data on the segment. That kind of knowledge is priceless and will go a long way in the way they position their company in the segment. 

Secondly, know how to run a business. I know a lot of women entrepreneurs in the business and we all get into it because we are passionate about one particular thing. It could be passion for PR or art and craft or cooking, hence we get into it only because of our passion for a particular subject and it is this passion that gives you the competitive edge. However, even though passion plays a major role, one must know how to run a business irrespective of whether one likes it or not. A business is needs to generate money; a lot of time the accounts part is not given much attention, hence a lot of businesses do not flourish well. We continue to live from salary to salary with no reserves. Sometimes even dipping into our personal savings. Managing the books is an important aspect of running a profitable business. One must definitely have a thorough knowledge about accounts. As a business woman, I need to be jack of all or atleast a basic understanding of every aspect of my business and master of one - my passion. 

Thirdly, I would emphasize on team management as it is extremely crucial, irrespective of the gender. It is very easy to work alone, as we can manage and have a perfect balance of work and personal life ( or so it seems at our own pace ) The moment you have people working with you, it’s very essential to manage everyone. It could be any business – be it technology, services or manufacturing – it’s all done by humans. The human element of it cannot be escaped, you have to learn to manage people. 

The fourth important aspect is the will and determination to succeed. If I set a goal, I need to be able to reach there, hence I will have to be at it till I reach that goal. If there is no determination, then goals are just words written on a piece of paper. 

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 have a completely different way of looking at this. I feel women limit themselves, including me at some point of time. I had a business coach who helped me break through my own roadblocks. A business person at the end is a business person, you have to make it work for you, this is the ground reality you have to live with. If you have to make decisions in the boardroom, just go and make them. 

How acute is the gender pay gap issue in India today? What needs to be done to address this in an effective manner?
To a large extent it still exists, I would not deny it. I wish we could do something about it to overcome the differences that still exist. I think we should take advantage of the women network and as women can support each other. In an organisation, women need to take up the responsibility to look at the issue and make sure that there is no gender pay disparity in that particular organisation. It will be more accessible for a woman, who has reached the boardroom or senior management level, to take such a step. So even if one woman reaches the boardroom or is running the business , imagine the difference that she can make for all women in that organisation. 

Do you think the leadership effectiveness of women is higher than men? Why?
Women are very intuitive and have a very high emotional quotient level, which makes them more understanding and approachable. It will not be right for me to say that women are better than men and vice-versa, as I have a neutral approach. If you treat somebody as a leader, they will also treat you well. The moment you look at them as women or men leaders and differentiate, they will also reciprocate that way. 

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 has been very challenging for the first couple of years – not because of the market reality you live with, but because of my own mental roadblocks. Like when I started I had a perception that I have to do everything, until my mentor guided me and asked me to focus on one thing that I am good at and recruit people for the other areas of work. Over the years, once I learnt to trust people around , my business also grew. This change in my own thinking has played an important and crucial role in shaping my business growth. 

How proactive have our corporates been when it comes to addressing a serious issue like sexual harassment at workplace?
I do see some changes over the years happening within the corporates that I have worked with. But I feel there is so much more that can be done.

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