W'day Spl'13 | Divya's PERSPECTIVE makes ALL THE DIFFERENCE!

It does not make a difference whether you are a man or a woman, for the formula to succeed lies within you and has no whatsoever connection with your gender. Biased attitude, partiality, inequality is irrelevant and never creeps up in the work space if you have the attitude to work hard and if you have learnt to take all the successes and failures in your stride. For what makes a difference is your perspective. This is exactly what I felt after talking to Divya Radhakrishnan of Helios Media.

Divya Radhakrishnan needs no lengthy introduction; she is one of those women entrepreneurs who are an inspiration for all. With over 24 years of experience, Divya has worked with agencies like Dacunha Communications, Publicis Zen and Rediffusion Y&R. After becoming president at TME, the media arm of Rediffusion-Y&R, she decided to start her own venture and floated Helios Media in December 2011. Her journey has been indeed eventful and full of experiences that has enriched her career.

Adgully had the opportunity of interviewing her, in our short conversation we tried to gain the maximum insight from her about her career, challenges and advice to succeed ahead.

Below are the excerpts from the conversation.

Adglly (AG): How would you describe your journey ?

Divya Radhakrishnan (DR): Like Martin Luther King Jr says "The true measure of a man is not how he behaves in moments of comfort and convenience but how he stands at times of controversy and challenges", my professional career journey has been marked with milestones by challenging the norm. My two and a half decades of work experience – which I believe is an infinite degree tutored by all those who I worked with. This along with Life’s book – all the ups and downs has embraced and grown me as a human being.

AG: What kind of problems or challenges did you face in the initial years? How difficult was it to get a breakthrough in the industry?

DR: Right from the outset, being a South Indian and an Economics graduate, perfectly slotted into a traditional career like banking or so of its kind, I chose to join advertising – drawn into the world of marketing and communications, fascinated by the brands and services entering the country at that time. However since there were no professional courses back then (not that what exists today in the name of media graduation is of any consequence), it was very difficult to establish one's natural aptitude to the field of media. Having chosen the track of media management in advertising where it was the norm to be in account management (in fact I filled in the place vacated by a colleague who moved on into client servicing), due to a stroke of magnitude by destiny, I got a break at Dacunha Associates where I spent my first 4 formative years handling marquee brands like Amul, Tata Tea, Frooti and LIC. Post that, the world of Media Management blossomed and so did I, moulding myself to adapt to Media Planning and subsequently with satellite onslaught into Media buying

AG: How has the industry evolved in its outlook towards women in today's time?

DR: I stand witness to a journey of Media management from being a back-room function to shift of power to Media Agency as an independent conglomerate and also my journey from being a Media executive to President of the agency. This industry in my experience never had any gender leanings, it was by default that when media independents evolved most leaders were women as in the early years, men in advertising chose the front facing jobs of client servicing or creative and the "back-room" function as media was called was left for the women. It is this experience that helped women take over the role of a CEO when media became independent - Lynn, Kalpana, Ketaki, Divya being some examples. I vehemently debunk the theory of women being more sensitive hence the role, if that was the case Sam, Vikram, Sashi wouldn’t be where they are today.

AG: There must have been many milestones in your career, one specific achievement that made you take pride in yourself as a woman.

DR: I never took undue advantage of my gender and kept away from tough market visits and late hours at work. So it will be extremely unfair to attribute any milestone towards being a woman. Having said that when I took over the position of setting up my own path at Helios Media, where it was not very common to see too many women take this route, again to be fair to my theory I would not ascribe it to any gender related reasoning, but merely by default. Nevertheless in the given environment wherein one deals with financial institutions, government bodies etc in the role of an entrepreneur I would say I take great pride in myself as a woman. I am also very proud of our Indian governance and the allowances they have for women entrepreneurs. eg: The scheme for Small enterprises for financing by PSU banks has greater flexibility if the owner is a woman.

AG: Did you ever encounter a biased attitude or perspective as compared to your male colleagues?

DR: Never, ever! If at all then a positive attitude eg for late working hours in my early career days

AG: Was there any moment that you felt dejected by the challenges that lay in front you because of being a woman?

DR: Not that anything that made such an impression that I can actually recall, so obviously not noteworthy

AG: Do tell us about your current role and what’s that one thing which gives you a maximum happiness in a day’s work?

DR: The challenge bug continued, got further infected into an entrepreneurial spirit and the itch to create something unique but on familiar grounds.  This led me to launch Helios Media Private Limited, which is an ancillary service provider for the broadcast industry. As a first of its kind model in India, Helios Media has verticals providing Sales engagement, Marketing & Content advisory services, Research development and Broadcast operations management. Helios Media within a year of operations boasts of a client portfolio that includes:MTunes HD – India’s 1st Bollywood Music channel in HD, Music Express – Speciality Music channel focusing on new releases/to-be-released music, FoodFood – India’s No.1 Food and Lifestyle channel by Masterchef Sanjeev Kapoor,WMC – India franchise for Indian channels in the US and UK for channels such as Sun TV Network. A 40 member strong team spread across 3 metros makes Helios Media a one-of-its kind organization in this country. Creation of this unique concept and see it up on its feet and galloping has given me happiness every single day at work. Like a parent, gloating over every single milestone of their child, is exactly the same feeling my work has given me in the last 16 months

AG: Is there anything specific you would want to do to bring about a change in people's perspective towards women?

DR: The attitude towards women that we see in advance professions like Media, Marketing, and Medicine is what needs to get replicated into every field. They day when every Indian male is able to shake hands professionally with a women in a conference room without making a judgement of her physical self , is the day for true liberation of a woman professional

AG: What is your advice to the young professionals who want to make it big in the corporate world?

DR: My favorite mantra, "Do not limit your challenges, Challenge your limits”. The day you are able to rise above what is traditionally expected out of your role, you will see your own rise automatically. To young media planners I would say, Rise above the numbers that data throws at you to give the client true value for his investments. Treat Media plans like a doctor treats her patients, all medical prescriptions are not computer generated, it’s a derivative of the doctor's thorough understanding of her patient's problem. I By Rabab Rupawala [rabab(at)adgully.com]

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