Women are gifted leaders and efficient team players: Valerie Pinto
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, Valerie Pinto, Chief Executive Officer, Weber Shandwick, speaks about how she managed her professional and personal life during the time of pandemic, tackling the various challenges thrown up by the COVID-19 and lockdown situations, what makes women the best in crisis management, and much more.
How do you think the role and scope of women leaders has widened in the post-pandemic world?
If women were juggling five things at a time, now post the pandemic, they are juggling ten.
For women in leadership positions, it’s another story all together. ‘Work from home’ has blurred the lines and the boundaries between the personal and professional space, making women leaders rethink their priorities once again.
Some have found the pandemic to be a boon as they experienced more time to do things both professionally as well as personally, while some couldn’t deal with the stress and opted out.
These statistics are well articulated in the recent UN Women study, which reflects how women are grappling with the new situation and are struggling to keep pace.
However, for women in leadership positions, the pandemic has shown that they have been extremely successful in dealing with the most unprecedented situations. The few women world leaders have been able to successfully handle the situation with a calm and balanced approach, leading with empathy. One such leader who inspires me is the New Zealand Prime Minister, who has led her country to be the first to declare itself COVID free.
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?
Taking cue from our colleagues in China, who went through this situation before we did, we were quick to respond and have used technology effectively, enabling our workforce to operate from their homes. We had a detailed business continuity plan in place and have virtually connected on a regular basis, to monitor progress.
Having said that, change is always slightly uncomfortable, and given that we are all now working from home, the challenge was getting teams to get accustomed to this. We had to rethink client implementation strategies, execute new and innovative ways to communicate, and focus on content and message, now more than ever.
As for me, I am a people’s person, so I had to quickly transition to doing more direct video calls, both one on one and townhalls. I connected more. Deeply and humanely. I think the team got to see a lot more of their CEO and I aim to keep that momentum running through 2021.
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?
Living through a pandemic and the ‘new normal’ of working from home can be stressful and exhausting. I make sure to stay mentally, physically and emotionally engaged to maintain that balance.
The initial stages of the lockdown had brought with it excessive amounts of work, and endless video calls. I didn’t have a second to spare, but this gradually started changing as I got into the groove and made a routine. Things got easier as the months progressed as I made sure I utilised my time effectively, ensuring plenty of down time as well.
I give myself strict deadlines, with schedules in place for client calls and video meetings. With the tasks of the day done, by 6:30 pm I try to switch off and unwind.
I de-stress through music, yoga and cooking.
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?
Women are gifted leaders, efficient team players, and can multitask effortlessly.
Whether managing the home, taking care of their children or running businesses, women can do it all with ease. We pay attention to the details and our ability to be empathetic through every challenge is what makes us successful.
What are the five most effective lessons that you have learned as a woman leader?
- Never be afraid to challenge the status quo
- Keep learning new skills to stay relevant
- Work hard and stay focused
- Stay confident and have faith in your ability to make a difference
- Never give up. You’re always closer to your goals than you think