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Women are not here to gain power, rather they are the power: Vaishali Sarwankar

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.

All women are superwomen, believes Vaishali Sarwankar, CEO, Carnival Motion Pictures. In conversation with Adgully, she shares her experiences as a leader leading an all-women team and working through the pandemic challenges. According to Sarvankar, a challenge is a perspective of how you look at things – change the perspective and it becomes an opportunity.

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

Women around the world have paved the way for an inspiring style of leadership that is confident, authentic, and highly effective. It is evident that the countries led by women leaders seem to have been particularly successful in fighting the Coronavirus.

The pandemic has been disruptive and transforming, introducing us to the need to quickly transition to work from home. Women clearly emerged as superpowers acing and re-defining multi-tasking. They managed the household, family, and office calls, presentations, all at the same time. While work from home allowed flexible hours, at the same time, it also put working women in a unique situation, many of whom have seen the personal and professional boundaries blurring, and as a result, felt stretched and stressed. Hence, making constant communication with employees across the board imperative. Inherent qualities such as empathy, humility, inclusiveness, and the ability to communicate effectively made women leaders the exception in the post-pandemic world.

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?

A challenge is a perspective of how you look at things. You change the perspective and it becomes an opportunity. Everything in the world was negative and nothing seemed to be going our way. However, what was in my control was to be grateful for life, shelter, and basic necessities. Honestly, I had just moved to India from Singapore early last year and taken on the reigns as the CEO of Carnival Motion Pictures in February. I needed time to plan the way ahead for the company and build my own team. The pandemic somewhere came as a blessing in disguise for me as it gave me the time to ponder, study the organisation and plan ahead. Plan things that I wanted to implement, the changes I wanted to bring. It was during the pandemic that I hired the team that I thought was capable of working together positively and bring about the change that I foresee for the organisation.

I also constructively utilised the time in writing three concepts, which will hopefully be developed into scripts this year. We worked on the pre-production of our upcoming film and I also discovered my culinary skills. Of course, we all faced this constant uncertainty of when will the planning be implemented. This uncertainty I think was the biggest challenge for all of us. However, my team, which also happens to be an all-female team, rolled up our sleeves and decided to wade through this in the most positive way. We went through scripts, worked on the pre-production of the upcoming film, ‘Mere Desh Ki Dharti’, and other content deals. Honestly, I think at Carnival Motion Pictures we have done great so far. It is because of all the hard work that we put in the last year, that we were able to announce and release the motion poster of our upcoming film which stars the digital sensation, Divyenndu. Very soon we will be announcing the line-up for the year.

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?

The only mantra that I always believe in is to keep working and do not wait for rewards. I feel awards are just part of the journey, but what’s most important is to keep working towards your goals and enjoy the process. There are going to be obstacles, but always be patient and never-give-up. Despite working from home, I was very clear that I and my team will not work past a certain hour. I would make the constant effort to not message or call anybody at work after a certain time in the evening. Everybody needed to maintain a balance and as a manager, I am very well aware of that. Weekends for me are also sacred and I feel that is the time we need to pursue our passions or interests which are different from work. Also, it is important to meet people, socialise the way we can keeping in mind our safety in this pandemic era. My team isn’t on their laptops on weekends, unless it’s a crisis situation that cannot wait till Monday.

Thankfully at home, there was help and because I live with my family, we would divide all domestic work. I really think, trying times get the best out of people as long as we are cautious and patient. So, be your own hero and always stay focused without bothering about the results.

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?

For me, all women are superwomen! We don’t need a crisis to manage or balance any situation. As to say, women are not here to gain power, rather they are the power! They are the driving force behind every successful story. Discipline, multitasking, and humility are the most important qualities of a leader, and women are inherently blessed with them.

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

  • Be your own Hero
  • Let your work speak for you
  • Your employees are your family; respect them
  • Gratitude is the key to success
  • Never compare yourself with any man in the organisation

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