Women Power: Anita Nayyar

MUMBAI: With 25 years of experience behind her, Havas Media Group India and South Asia CEO Anita Nayyar is no stranger to the media industry. After securing a bachelor‘s degree in microbiology and post graduation in advertising and marketing, she worked with some leading agencies in India including Saatchi & Saatchi, Ogilvy & Mather, Initiative Media, MediaCom and Starcom Worldwide. Her time in the industry has made her an experienced hand when it comes to sports, entertainment and out of home.

Under her leadership Havas Media in India has grown exponentially, having expanded its offerings as an integrated communications group for traditional, digital, mobile, performance marketing, out-of-home and sports.

True to her zodiac, the globetrotting Capricorn balances work and home like a pro and loves spending time with her daughters when she isn‘t making shrewd observations and taking important decisions to expand the footprint of Havas Media Group in India and South Asia.

Talking to on the occasion of International Women‘s Day, Nayyar recounts her experience through the years and reiterates, "You have to love it to be here, so ENJOY it."

Q: What has been your experience as a woman in the media business?

A: It has been a great journey filled with much joy, tears too - I have no regrets. Women were few, CEO‘s non-existent and the industry even more male dominated than today. But grit, talent and dedication were the things that could not be ignored and good male bosses supported good performances. Roda Mehta was a mentor. With her, scientific media planning was an art honed to give the client another reason to use agency services.

The fact that you were a woman did influence the clients or intricacy of task assigned, unless you carved your niche. So you had to be on your toes - alert, diligent and ready to contribute beyond the brief in order to stand out. Maybe that is why they say women bosses are better team leaders and more responsive than their male counterparts!

There were other challenges too. Principles and ideas you believe in are constantly tested. In this case you either succumb and stay or take the risk and hold on to your horses even at the risk of your job, something I did. In the end it pays as I believe the right party wins and people respect you for it, including the antagonists. Self respect and integrity define you.

Q: How conducive is the environment for women to thrive in the media industry today?

A: The industry needs people with will, talent and ideas who will make the effort to walk that extra mile. Woman or Man, the environment is no longer gender discriminatory. What counts is professionalism, irrespective of gender. One is and should not be judged by being a man or a woman but by how good a professional he or she is.

So it is a decent industry - tough, demanding, competitive like many others. It requires a lot of strength, guts and desire to thrive here. It does open many doors to opportunity, especially for women.

Q: What are the major challenges that women face today?

A: The working world today is evolved and women are marked on the scene for top jobs globally. If you are good, there is nothing to stop you. A tough mind is the differentiator.

The efforts are constant and behind the scenes. You are evaluated on ‘present‘ result - perform to be a star. But then how else do you remain competitive with shrinking margins and volume growth? The competition is cut-throat and it is becoming increasingly difficult to manage P&L‘s.

Sometimes for women and very few men, the constant travel, long hours and transferring of roles to other cities or even as a regional head could pose a challenge with the dislodging of the whole family. As they say, both work and family are full time jobs. Women are known to be better at multi-tasking and can handle more physically, mentally and emotionally.

Personally, I am extremely lucky to have had a loving, supportive and encouraging family and thank my husband and two other women - my daughters, whose day it will also be.

Q: What changes would you like to see in the current work environment?

A: People - woman or man, move far too much and too fast now. Earlier longevity and stability was a value-addition. People need to give themselves and those around enough time and chance. Better and well grounded talent seems to be a big ask. Those eager both to learn and teach will account for better talent which currently is in short supply.

Q: What advice would you give to the young working girls?

A: Keep your eyes and mind open to the world around you, not the industry or designation. I learn every day. Absorb, read, explore you never know how those dots connect when you need them most and you‘ll enjoy your output as will others. It is not always that we will get work that we like but giving up or quitting is not the solution. Keep the balance and yet know that you are refining the details for the future.

Be humble, value relationships, do your very best and that little bit extra. I have always maintained there is no shortcut to success and it‘s only your hard work that pays---sooner or later. But most of all be responsive and believe in yourself.

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