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Megha Tata on Discovery's work culture, her leadership style, women empowerment

The talent pool is limited to cope with the changes in the industry.

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MUMBAI: Megha Tata, a broadcast sector veteran, moved to Discovery in February 2019. Her arrival could come at no better time for the American broadcaster with special proposition genres looking at innovation for growth. At the stage of Indiantelevision.com’s Media HR Summit on Wednesday, she spoke of her leadership style, challenges she is facing as a leader and the company’s culture of treating employees during an engaging chat with Indiantelevision.com founder, CEO and editor-in-chief Anil Wanvari.

“What excited me in this role is without a doubt the brand. Discovery is a brand I have grown up with not only as a consumer but also as an industry. Discovery India has been here for 25 years and I have worked here for 28 years. So, both Discovery and I have grown together. So, I have a very fond connection and affinity to the brand,” said Discovery Communications India South Asia MD.

When asked what qualities in her attracted a legancy brand like Discovery, she outlined a few probable reasons. The first was credible experience in the broadcast industry, second her leadership skills spanning previous experiences, and third her ability to listen and communicate properly, getting along with people easily, optimism, positivity and the networks she grew over the years.

Yet to reach the 100-day mark with her new employer, Megha explained how Discovery’s onboarding process helped her grasp an understanding of the organisation in the first two weeks. She also added that it is not exclusive to the top executives but to every new hire.

“I have been fortunate and privileged to have inheriting a fantastic leadership team and we all know any organisation is about people. It’s the people who either make or break the organisation. So, I am a big believer in that and I am a very people’s person and my job is to facilitate thinking and give them a direction and vision,” she pointed out.

The former BTVI COO also spoke about the presence of women in the industry. 

“I have been in the media industry for almost 28 years and I have seen the change which has happened when I was an executive to where I am today and many women have grown in this industry. They have grown in multiple departments, we have legal heads who are women and we have women in technical departments. In my previous organisation, we hired the first ever female technical engineer representing a news channel. Having said that, more women need to go out there and ask for what they want,” she remarked.

She also added that a lot of women give up because of self-doubt. Hence, she suggested believing in oneself, acknowledging weaknesses while playing to strengths. According to her, asking for more is important as opposed to being subdued.

In this milieu of flux which is happening with the changes, uncertainties and ambiguities, mobile, agile, and entrepreneurship-level thinking is needed in any organisation. One of the challenges, she feels, is the lack of talent to deal with this ambiguity. She said there is a limited talent pool as well as limited opportunities. Either you get experience or you get that agile thinking attitude but getting a combination is difficult, Megha argued.

Talking about her leadership style, Megha said that she is not a micro-manger but needs be in the loop of the overall process. She likes to empower people she hires. The Discovery India topper said if someone has been hired for a certain goal, she believes in the person’s ability to deliver that particular goal. Trust is very important, she added.

In the context of Discovery’s high focus on people and culture, she said that even the HR department in the company is called as ‘people & culture’. She also added that the culture of Discovery is about inclusiveness, diversity, creating an environment of trust and comfort within employees. She added that she does not have any intent to change that but enhance the exisiting processes.

While Discovery’s growth slowed down in the recent past, she sees that challenge as an opportunity. Whether it is digitisation, NTO impact, leadership in the kids’ genre, Megha seems fearless. She also added that her aim is to grow the kids business to emerge as the top three player, along with having new d2c business that's on the anvil.

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