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Women have a history of fighting adversity to get what they want: Asha Jindal Khaitan

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, Asha Jindal Khaitan, Founder of asa, points out that empathy wins in times of crisis, and adds that women have a better grasp on effective communication, inspiring and motivating those around them to keep together. 

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

I think that the resilience and way in which the female leaders of today’s world like Jacinda Ardern and Falguni Nayar have conducted themselves and lead the charge against the pandemic, is something that is inspiring to every woman. Furthermore, seeing Kamala Devi Harris being the first woman Vice-President in America and the work Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen has done in bringing attention to climate change are all great examples of women fighting against all odds to get what they want. Another great example I see is of Whitney Wolfe Herd, the first self-made woman billionaire who took her company Bumble public recently while holding a baby in her arms. I think all of these women show the goals women can achieve and glass ceilings all of these women have shattered in reaching these heights.

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?

It was a unique challenge to launch an entire brand while the world around seems so uncertain. However, the one thing that we made sure would be our priority was the safety of all. But the pandemic proved that now more than ever, there is an awakened consciousness for cleanly formulated products that do more good than harm. The process of brand creation right from designing the packaging, to formulations took more time than normal, because of the pandemic. This allowed us to be more mindful of the experience we finally brought to the consumer. 

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?

Given that asa’s core philosophy is Clean Awakening, being mindful of all that we do comes naturally to us. We are a mother and daughter-in-law duo, we firmly believed that together we could bring together a wholesome solution to today’s luxury consumer. Working together even through the pandemic has allowed us to successfully navigate our professional and family lives. The pandemic has given us even more quality time together, which enabled us to go beyond our initial ideas for the brand. Refocusing on priorities allowed us to gain a better understanding of what values we want to instil in the brand and through our team – a mindful lifestyle that is full of conscious actions. 

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?

Empathy wins in times of crisis, also women have a better grasp on effective communication, inspiring and motivating those around them to keep together. I’ve read a Harvard Business Review research article that showed how women ranked higher than men in building relationships, in collaborative and teamwork efforts, and in decision making. These are prime qualities that affect how crises are handled. Women have had a history of fighting adversity – still continue to do so – to get what they want and this shows through in handling crisis situations. 

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

  1. Don’t be afraid to fail: Failure is the first step to success, and each failure makes us better. We learn something from every experience and we shouldn’t be afraid to take those risks.
  2. Ask for help: Oftentimes, we want to be the one that has all the answers and can do it all. However, it is important for us to know where our strengths and weaknesses lie. We should not be afraid to reach out to people for help, as that is how we can learn and grow.
  3. Prioritise: If these past few years has taught me anything, it is to know where to focus my time and It has made me learn to map out my priorities and that makes my work and life easier. When you know what matters to you, any other background conversations or conflicts melt away.
  4. Get Feedback: For anyone in any stage of their career, it is very important to seek feedback and work on yourself with that constructive criticism, e that from superiors or peers.
  5. Be Self-assured: The more you are confident about your uniqueness and strengths and what you bring to the table, the better you will be able to handle life. Use your strengths to your advantage and understand that if you are truly confident in yourself, nothing else can matter.
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