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“When it comes to mental toughness, in certain circumstances women have the edge”

We, at Adgully, have always saluted and honoured women managers and leaders across diverse fields. Last year, we launched our unique and distinct program, called WOMEN DISRUPTORS, which drew a lot of attention and was highly appreciated by the industry. W-SUITE is a special initiative from Adgully that has been turning the spotlight on some of the most remarkable women achievers in M&E, Advertising & Marketing, PR & Communication industry. In the refurbished series, we will find out how women leaders have been managing their teams and work as well as how they have been navigating through the toughest and most challenging times brought about by the global pandemic.

In conversation with Adgully, Divya Dixit, SVP, Marketing, Direct Revenue & Analytics, ALTBalaji, notes how organisations have started inculcating inclusive culture, opening up the path for women to pilot leadership positions and break the glass ceiling. But at the same time, she also laments the fact that women’s participation in paid work is still considerably low compared to the male workforce.

How do you think the role and scope of women leaders have widened in the post-pandemic world? 

While women have been making enormous strides in introducing more gender parity across industries not only in India but globally as well; the current women’s participation in paid work for India stands at only 27% and globally at 49%, as against the male workforce of 96%. The recent IMF report states that the Indian GDP can rise by a further 27% if women participate in the economy as much as men. I think amongst all this, what is interesting to note is that organisations have started inculcating inclusive culture, opening up the path for women to pilot leadership positions and break the glass ceiling.

The rapid transition to digital, an uncertain economic landscape, charting unknown waters, working from home with no modes of the usual contacts. How have you been navigating during the COVID-19 times? What were the challenges that you faced and how did you tackle them?

Work from home surely set up a completely different kind of challenge that we were not familiar with. There was no physical distinction between work-life and personal life. It demands a huge level of multi-tasking to be productive and manage the household chores and family. I have always believed in quick-thinking, flexibility, and innovation, and that is what worked, irrespective of the industry or platform. Each industry had its own set of challenges, and this period just taught us all to navigate it and come out smarter.

How challenging has it been for you to maintain a balance between managing the team & office work on the one hand, and family responsibilities on the other, as boundaries blurred while working from home? What is your mantra to maintain that balance?

We were successfully managing the internal team setup and workflows to cater to the rising demand on our platform. Though OTT is a demanding business as we cater to our viewers 24X7, I do strive to make the most of the weekend and after hours by spending quality time with my family and playing with our pets. Apart from that, I am a bookworm and can read all genres possible, and have great binge-watching marathons of shows. Fitness is also something that gives me an immense thrill. These factors make sure I abide by the work-life balance.

Multiple studies have shown how women leaders performed better during the COVID-19 crisis. According to you, what makes women the best in crisis management?

There can be no generalisation here. However, physically undoubtedly men are stronger than a woman, but if you’re talking about mental toughness, maybe in certain circumstances it is women who have the edge. In my opinion and experience, certain qualities like multi-tasking, empathy, clear communication, and being resolute are what make women take a lead during a crisis. 

What are the five most effective lessons that you have learned as a woman leader?

Some of the lessons I dearly follow are:

  • At the leadership level, it is important to empower other women to break the glass ceiling  
  • Women leaders also bring to the table a sense of compromise between teams and build a cohesive workforce. That requires a lot of interpersonal skill sets as well
  • One piece of advice that has always helped me is “If you can keep your head while the world is in chaos, you will win the game”
  • Get comfortable with defeat 
  • Be Flexible
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