My focus is on creating a happy and passionate team: Monaz Todywalla

She was named the CEO of PHD in September this year.

NEW DELHI: One of the most skilled, innovative, and capable marketing professionals active in the country right now, Monaz Todywalla began her third decade in the field with possibly the biggest achievement she could have asked for; she was made the CEO of PHD India in September this year. Rather than balk at the challenge, she is taking by the reins the fastest-growing and successful agencies in India amidst a global pandemic that has the industry at a big inflection point. In a recent conversation with’s Mansi Sharma, Todywalla talked about her role, her strategies, and what 2021 bodes for the industry as a whole. Edited excerpts follow:

On her new role

I am very excited to begin this new phase of my career and it has been the best experience of my life, thus far. I am becoming a CEO for the first time but I somewhere knew what to expect from this role. However, certain unexpected things also happened, making it the fastest learning experience of my life. The lockdown came with its own challenges and my first and foremost priority was to support the new team and I think all of us have emerged victorious. I am looking forward to more such learning experiences. 

The thing that I am enjoying the most here is that PHD is a young agency and doesn’t have many traditional roots, unlike my previous organisations. The team here is relatively younger and the culture is more enthusiastic, promoting rapid learning. 

On her short-term and long-term goals

For any leader, obviously, the long-term goals are building new businesses, talent building within the organisation and skill appreciation. But for the short-term, my whole focus is on taking care of the mental and emotional well-being of my employees. I believe that a happy and passionate team is far more capable of delivering great things and I want to create a positive work environment for all of them. 

Secondly, Covid2019 has transformed our industry massively. Trust has become a very large factor impacting client-agency relationships. So before we go on getting newer clients on-board, I want each of my existing clients to believe that they can count on me and the agency. 

On her inspiration and role models

I was always very passionate about being on the agency side of things and worked really hard to reach there. I was hired by Lodestar during a campus placement drive at my alma mater NMIMS and there has been no looking back since. I was very fortunate to have worked with some of the best bosses in the industry, be it Sam (Balsara), Shashi (Sinha), and Karthik (Sharma). 

What influenced me personally a lot was the fact that I was trained under a number of kickass female bosses like Punitha Arumugam, Apurva (Purohit) and Vanita (Keswani), who remain my role models to date. 

All of them gave me an understanding of the business and especially how to build and maintain client relationships. The top lessons that I would now be adopting as my personal style are going to be: clarity of thought – knowing what to do and how it will be done; collaboration – working as a team; leading from the front – your team should be comfortable in approaching you with any problem and you should be able to demonstrate the solutions; most importantly, telling it like it is.

On the future of the industry

As I said, Covid2019 has impacted our industry immensely and things are going to be different from here on. Digital, obviously, has grown manifold, offering a lot of opportunities to agencies like ours. The pandemic has also changed consumer behaviour in a massive way, and for good. Our focus is going to be on helping clients connect better with their consumers online, as well as offline. There is definitely a need to relook at e-commerce too. 

Next, purpose-led commerce is going to only accelerate from here. Products have become much more than just a commodity and it has made a lot of clients go back to the drawing board. We want to partner with them. 

In terms of working models, hybrid working is going to stay. Agencies will collaborate with skilled professionals more. There is also going to be a big focus on in-house skill development. 

On her 2021 resolutions

Personally, I want 2021 to be a period of hyper-learning and new experiences. For the agency, I want to create improved business models based on the core competencies of media, creativity, innovation, and science. 

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