W-Suite: Simran Wadhwa, Partner, SG Analytics
We, at Adgully, have always saluted and honoured women managers and leaders across diverse fields. Over the years, W-SUITE is a special initiative from Adgully that has been turning the spotlight on some of the most remarkable women achievers in the M&E, Advertising, Marketing, PR and Communications industry.
In conversation with Adgully, Simran Wadhwa, Partner, SG Analytics, speaks at length about her advice to aspiring women leaders, how the industry has evolved and extended opportunities to women leaders, and much more.
How do you think the role and scope of women leaders have widened in the current market ecosystem?
Adaptability and resilience are critical when it comes to breaking down barriers and biases. Today, women leaders are spearheading technology, e-commerce, sustainability, and social impact enterprises, as well as demonstrating their competence and expertise by introducing innovative solutions and catering to the diverse needs of the organisation.
One aspect that I have always felt can change the game is an increased emotional intelligence quotient for better-informed decisions. With the growing number of women in leadership positions, this critical element is finally finding its place.
I believe encouragement and constant family support lie at the forefront of this entire paradigm. While the role and scope of women leaders are widening, oftentimes, being a part of this dynamic market ecosystem requires more than just support from your fellow colleagues. There needs to be a sense of allyship. At the same time, women entrepreneurs are leading the way in some of the most un-gendered businesses today.
A significant number of women are chairing leadership roles across industries. This positive trend is likely to catch up at a much faster pace in the next few years. And with more and more women taking up leadership roles, there will be more role models and mentors for future generations and an inclusive business world.
What has been your major learning from the pandemic period?
One of the biggest lessons that the pandemic taught me is – Forever is made of “Nows”. While it is human nature to think about the undefined and the unknown, it is more important to function and operate in the now, for it holds the key to the world you will be shaping.
The pandemic was an eye-opener for me as it made me realise that it is important to respond to every situation before reacting. This was possible with the help of a business and spiritual coach. A reaction is often out of fear and insecurities. Response, on the contrary, is taking charge of a situation and arriving at the best course of action, one that is driven by reason and compassion.
The pandemic shaped the workforce narrative and perspective for all. It opened everyone to the importance of the presence of a leader and collaborator. And for women in leadership, it is very important to be agile as well as stand the ground when responding to a certain situation. However, trusting your instincts, to date, remains my biggest and most important takeaway from the pandemic.
What is your mantra for maintaining a successful work-life balance in the new normal? According to you, what makes women the best in crisis management?
My mantra for maintaining a successful work-life balance is just being my true self – irrespective of the setting I am in. In both professional and personal scenarios, it is important to present your authentic self and work towards allocating your time and energy while being realistic with your priorities.
Women are known to have profound empathy along with the superpower to examine problems from different angles. They are naturally more adept at communication, collaboration, and problem-solving – which are essential qualities in crisis management. I firmly believe that, as women, we are gifted with the ability of greater awareness and an emotional IQ that helps in discovering more innovative solutions, just the way my male colleagues are gifted with many complementary qualities.
And, while, as human beings, we often despise hearing “no” for an answer, practice and cultivate the ability to say the two-letter magical word “NO,” and that too without trying to justify it within an explanation.
What are the five most effective leadership lessons that you have learned?
Some of the most critical leadership lessons that I’ve learned over the course of my professional journey and ones that have held me in good stead are empowering the people you work with, adapting and embracing innovative skills, establishing and nurturing a sense of trust and belonging with stakeholders, promoting scalability and not scale, and leading with empathy and compassion.
What, according to you, is the major challenge facing women leaders today?
While the world is evolving at a faster pace, women are still lagging when it comes to leadership roles across organisations. With many still pushing to reach the top, we often have to face a range of challenges for legacy reasons. And this, I believe, is something that has been preventing many women from achieving their goal of getting ahead in business.
One of the critical elements that we often lack is fostering a sense of sisterhood or garnering support from other female employees or colleagues. My advice to women across the globe is to support and empower each other. Be humble, show togetherness, compassion, and enthusiasm toward laying a strong foundation for our progress through our work.
Another critical challenge that women often face is imposter syndrome or lack of confidence in oneself. It is important for us to get comfortable knowing that people are going to try and take you off the game or sometimes dislike you for no apparent reason. It is at such times that you need to have a clear vision of your purpose and work towards achieving it by claiming what you want.
Gender sensitivity and inclusion in the new normal – how can organisations effectively encourage and groom women leaders in challenging times?
If we look at it from my perspective, I believe that gender sensitivity isn’t limited to just the gender of an individual. It goes much beyond that. But as we are majorly focusing on gender sensitivity in context to female leaders, I believe that there is still a grave need for organisations to work towards cultivating and nurturing an inclusive and diverse culture through various means.
For me, every expression has an energy signature, and I am a firm believer in working towards a purpose rather than labeling it as challenging or critical. Offering flexibility in policies and providing mentorship and coaching along with leadership training programs can further help create a supportive environment to encourage and groom future women leaders. And it gives me immense joy to see the gender gap narrowing and see more and more women taking charge in every field.
At SGA, I have been fortunate to witness women in key roles leading from the front as well as managing the core business functionalities with expertise and ease. We ensure that our women employees, irrespective of their job titles, are presented with significant growth opportunities. By promoting a work culture where diverse perspectives are valued, we aim at attracting and retaining talented women leaders. Even within our CSR initiatives, we have dedicated programs undertaken for women’s empowerment. And I am proud to be a part of an organisation where this shift in perception and cultural outlook has taken place naturally as part of the culture and people!