#WomenDisruptors: Want to be a successful leader? Learn to juggle - Shavon Barua
We, at Adgully, have always saluted and honoured women managers and leaders across diverse fields. ‘Women Disruptors’ is Adgully’s special initiative to bring to the fore some remarkable women achievers in M&E, Advertising, Marketing, Communications industries, how they think, how they manage things, how they lead from the front and much more.
Shavon Barua, Chief Client Officer, PHD India, joined the agency in 2015 as Managing Partner to work on the Hindustan Unilever business from PHD’s Mumbai office. Over the past three years, she has played an instrumental role in growing the business and was appointed Chief Client Officer for the agency in 2018. She has been working to further develop PHD’s market-leading and award-winning client offering.
Barua had moved to PHD from Havas Worldwide, where she served as President, leading the P&L for West and South, across various verticals of mainline advertising, digital, health, engagement and experiential marketing. A seasoned leader with two decades of experience, she has partnered with large local and global brands like HDFC Bank, Sony Six, Bharat Petroleum, Sanofi, Colgate Palmolive, Unilever, Lakme Lever, Parle, ITC, PepsiCo, Nestle and Reckitt Benckiser.
Prior to Havas, Barua was Executive Business Director at JWT India, leading two of its biggest portfolios – Nestle and Pepsi Foods. The Kurkure positioning of ‘Tedha hai par mera hai’ and Lay’s ‘Be a little Dillogical’ was championed and created under her leadership.
How do you inspire and motivate your employees as a leader of your organisation?
“Bloom where you are planted” may sound like a simple thought, but it encourages everyone to make the most of the “here and now”. That is the philosophy I live by and share with my teams, telling them to take advantage of the opportunities and challenges facing them today, rather than adopting a “could have and should have” approach or procrastinating. Greener pastures are simply not worth pining for when you have an opportunity right in front of you to seize today, innovate now and rise to the occasion. Every experience offers a lesson that will help you improve.
Your three important tips or guidelines to become a winning leader?
- Have a to-do list; it always helps in achieving a goal or ambition.
- Focus on what is important. It could be many things or just one, but don’t let that focus waver.
- Be brave – take that chance, go down the different route, and whether you win or fail, make the try worthwhile.
How do you nurture and train your people to become a leader in the future?
Listen, share and discuss. I believe a true leader supports the people they’re surrounded by and always has their back. We often either learn from our bosses or vow never to be like them (I have had my fair share of both!). Saying “We” versus “Me” is a practice that one should never take for granted. True leaders have the ability to give more than they take.
What is your view on work-life balance and how have you achieved it?
Who we are in our personal lives, reflects in our work. If we have a scattered, disorganised and unhappy personal life, we tend to have a not-so-nice time at work as well. If I work really hard at one thing in particular, it’s to ensure that I keep both my work and personal life positive. Yes, it helps that I have a home with three men who give me incredible love and support, and that my team at work also has more sorted individuals than other places. However, achieving this balance ensures a leader that staff can look up to. Staying focused on the things that matter and maintaining mutual respect are critical to achieving this balance.
How easy/ difficult it is to manage work-life balance in agency life?
Agency life is best suited for a multi-disciplinary thinker, and the same is required to build a solid home. I’d like to believe I have the ability of a juggler; managing multiple interests and goals, and pursuing them simultaneously, is what drives me. I know no other way than this approach, and yes, I am blessed to have the support both at home and work as the wind beneath my wings!