In this business, you have to leave your ego and gender outside: Nandini Dias

10 Jul,2012

Nandini Dias, COO, Lodestar Universal, is one of most applauded professionals in the media industry. A firm believer in work-life balance, she manages her responsibilities at work with much aplomb.


An excellent leader, in this conversation with Ritu Midha, Nandini talks about the KPI of a successful leader, need of policies to enable women to hold their own and the women consumer at large.


You’ve come a long way in this industry today. What would you attribute your success and stature in the industry to?

I guess sincerity is the key. Respect the brief, acknowledge the practicalities and give it your all. If you can start all this afresh again and again on assignment after assignment, things usually turn out well. I am not a master at it but I try. Always!


Is being a woman helped or hindered you in your career in anyway?

In this business one is supposed to leave one’s ego and gender outside the room. It really doesn’t make a difference what gender you are, at least in my experience.


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While most sectors are seeing women rising to the top now, it is different with Media where there have been women achievers since the time of Roda Mehta etc. What are your views on the same?

Well, media planning and buying is a relatively new field without too much history. So I guess given an equal opportunity, equal number of women are seen in the top rung.


Would you say that Indian businesses are now unbiased, and that women get equal opportunities as men?

The mindsets have certainly opened up. Indian businesses have started understanding that if 50% of the workforce is cut off from any form of opportunity they are limiting their own talent pool and consequently their options by half. But to enable women to continue to stay in their career, a lot of infrastructure needs to be put in place, at least in India. There are periods in their life when women usually get off. Like childbirth, husbands transfer etc. We need to relook at our policies and enable women to continue during/post these times.


Moving to women in general, do you agree that the women consumer segment is increasing in power and importance?

There used to be very well defined male bastions and female bastions for most product categories. Technology, cars, finance etc were supposedly open only to men and FMCG products like shampoos, creams, edible oils etc to women. But now with more and more women joining the work force the behavioral pattern inside the household has changed and the division of house chores between the couple has become more ambiguous. As a result the decision making process has altered breaking the bastions. So both the male and female consumers have increased in power and importance on the non-traditional bastions.


Does word of mouth play a more important role as far as women consumers are concerned?

Today social networking is an important medium. In fact advertisers invest money in using groups and friends to spread the word. Bloggers are paid to create conversations. So word of mouth has become an organized medium. Word of mouth in marketing is relevant and used by both genders. If money is being invested to buy a product everyone should do due diligence check out opinions of people who are current users.


Do you believe that a woman’s role as a home-maker is evolving to that of a home owner – more so in case of upmarket metro women?

In my books, home-maker is part home owner irrespective of what the legal document says. It is important for everyone to understand that the role of all in a household has evolved.


Is the upmarket metro woman growing at a pace faster than men today?

Women in India have just started seeing economic independence. They have had to struggle to break traditional mindsets and become economically independent. As a result the mindset of working women is that they have to remain focused and have to succeed. It is going to be very important that we should be able to balance the work-family-life equation well. And to me success will be best defined if we manage the three without strain.


Lastly, an unrelated question – how would you define a Diva?

A woman who works towards a goal she sets for herself and accomplishes it.


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