“Women leaders can groom themselves when put in a tough position”
We, at Adgully, have always saluted and honoured women managers and leaders across diverse fields. 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 seek to 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.
Mayura Shreyams Kumar is the Director of Club FM and Digital Business of Mathrubhumi Group, one of the largest media companies with a significant presence in Print, Television, Radio and Online. Mathrubhumi is a multi-model Indian media house founded with a newspaper in 1923 to uphold human rights against oppressions that now delivers news and entertainment across various mediums. She is an active member of Indian Advertising Association (IAA) Young Professional Member and a member of Confederation of Indian Industry Kerala. She is a Communication & Media, Literature and Psychology graduate from Christ College, Bangalore. Her Hobbies include Photography, Music and Travel.
In conversation with Adgully, Mayura Shreyams Kumar, Director, Club FM and Digital Business, Mathrubhumi Group, speaks about the strengths that women have shown in handling crisis during the pandemic times, gender sensitivity in the new normal and more.
How do you think the role and scope of women leaders has widened in the post-pandemic world?
I think the opportunities have immensely increased. In terms of entrepreneurship and women leaders, we have understood that there’s a lot of gender sensitivity today and recognition specifically of how women work during crisis times, which has amplified the entire aspect of also making them leaders. I think women are great at working amidst crisis, it’s just a matter of getting the opportunity and recognition, which was amplified especially during the COVID-19 period.
Even in my case, there’s a lot of work that I did during the lockdown and COVID period, which helped me also elevate my position.
The rapid transition to digital, an uncertain economic landscape, charting unknown waters, working from home – how have you been navigating during the COVID-19 times? How are you maintaining work-life balance in the new normal?
Being at home during the Covid times gave me the opportunity to critically look into various aspects of this business, especially in terms of digital transformation as all the tasks had to be done digitally while working from home. So, we had to bring in new systems, new ways of working and also keeping people productive during this time, which was quite challenging. I think there are several people who have adapted to working from home very efficiently and I consider myself to be one of those people who work very productively from home.
I was able to start a new team, bring in new roles into the organiation, do facts check, start a social media desk and strengthen it. It is just a matter of putting things into perspective when working from home.
In terms of relationships, I am an unmarried woman living with my family, including my grandparents. During the lockdown, our relationship got extremely strengthened as we all were under one roof. I also got to spend more time with my friends, albeit virtually, and was able to cherish those good moments with them. Thus, in terms of work, my productivity increased and in terms of relationships, they just got better.
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?
It’s the ability to “Wait a minute, stop and think” and the ability to navigate the human mind. Women understand and empathise with other people in a very good manner, which is a woman’s strength. There is a great saying that 90% is mind and 10% is body along with the actions.
During a crisis, we women are able to stop, think and understand what are the solutions required. Women are also amazing at finding solutions to various problems. It’s a blessing that women are born with an intuitive mind, which makes them good at managing crisis and also makes them better leaders.
What are the five most effective lessons that you have learned as a woman leader?
I've learned how to understand others’ situations, what they are going through and accordingly help them.
I understood the value of productivity and ensuring that everybody does their task at a certain time, which by the end of the day is a good product.
Whatever has to happen in the world will happen. Whatever has to come at a certain time will come at a certain time. It’s about how we navigate and use that time well – whether it’s bad or good. It’s during a crisis that you have the best opportunity to think and execute, exercise what you are best at, like problem solving, and I took that opportunity very strongly.
Doing what you love is extremely important. It kind of refreshes you in terms of your professional life. Moreover, spending time with those for whom you are taking the break is essential.
I can build relationships in a very good manner. Even though I was sitting at home, I spoke to every employee who was working remotely. We understand what they are going through. I had a chance to understand where they are coming from and also understand how we can improve their skills. All these things have helped me a lot in terms of communication.
Gender sensitivity and inclusion in the new normal – how can organisations effectively encourage and groom women leaders in challenging times?
Women leaders have the capability to groom themselves when put in a tough position. It’s all about understanding that they can do it. In terms of gender sensitivity, we have done many campaigns that highlight the sets of skills men and women have. It’s high time that we understand these sets of skills and use this trend. While we know that men and women are different, we need to understand how to use that difference in a very positive manner. How do we use difference to make a change is what matters. It’s about understanding the differences at work and encouraging everyone to give their best, which is very important.
We women don’t need a pat on the back or too much encouragement, but when we are trying to do something, don’t stop it from happening.