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Women In Alcobev Should Embrace Opportunities In Operations & Marketing, Challenge Stereotypes: Ayaesha Gooptu

In an interaction with Marketing Mind, Ayaesha Gooptu, Head of Domestic Spirits at Bacardi in India, candidly discussed her proactive approach to challenging stereotypes and debunking misconceptions, particularly in fields still considered unconventional for women, such as alcobev.

| Published on March 29, 2024

Celebrating Woman Leaders (Ayaesha Gupto)

From her early days at Kantar IMRB as an Insights Director to her current role as the Head of Domestic Spirits at Bacardi in India, Ayaesha Gooptu‘s career is a tale of ambition, insight, and the drive to innovate within the vibrant world of alcohol beverage industry.

Finding her spark in the challenges and opportunities of the FMCG sector, Gooptu was captivated by the unique opportunities presented by the alcobev industry. It was the sector’s openness to breaking the mould and its potential for crafting distinctive consumer experiences that drew her in.

Today, she stands at the forefront of marketing innovation, pushing the boundaries within a regulated space to connect with audiences in groundbreaking ways.

With a rich history in marketing across different fields, including significant roles at PepsiCo, Gooptu shared key insights into the industry’s evolution and shifting views in a conversation with Marketing Mind.

Ayaesha Gooptu
Ayaesha Gooptu

“The alcobev sector brings a rich platform for creativity, allowing us to craft unique consumer experiences and push the boundaries of traditional marketing. This shift was propelled by a desire to harness innovative marketing approaches within a regulatory framework, aiming to redefine industry standards and connect with audiences on a novel level,” Gooptu said.

Throughout her career, she has been a strong advocate for challenging stereotypes and opening doors for women in leadership positions. She’s seen a positive change in how the industry embraces women.

“From my initial role at IMRB International (working on categories spanning from Tobacco to FMCG) to my time at PepsiCo and my current venture into alcobev with Bacardi, each step has contributed to cultivating a global mindset, challenging stereotypes, and shattering misconceptions in leading by example across these categories. These aspects have made my professional journey extremely exciting and rewarding for me – and if I had to do it all over again, I don’t think I would want to change anything,” she added.

When asked about the changing landscape for women in the industry, Gooptu highlighted a significant shift, saying, “As more women break past societal stereotypes and misconceptions about what they can or can not pursue, we are witnessing a growing influx of women joining the industry. These women are not only breaking barriers in their roles but are also emerging as influential role models and icons – serving as inspiration for more women to enter the industry, which is triggering an evolution marked by improved gender representation and inclusivity.”

“This is something that stands true for my experience at Bacardi as well. As a leader in the alcobev segment, an industry often perceived as male-dominated, Bacardi has been a passionate advocate for the cause of women in leadership. Working in the alcobev industry presents a valuable opportunity for young professionals to learn unique operations and marketing strategies. My only advice for aspiring women entering the category is to encourage them to embrace these empowering opportunities – making their mark, challenging stereotypes, and setting examples for others to follow,” she added.

She highlighted her five-year journey at Bacardi so far, witnessing the team’s evolution in alignment with this vision.

Ayaesha Gooptu with her Team at an event for Bacardi Legacy

“I am extremely proud to share that today India leads the charge with an impressive 36% representation of women in leadership roles – which surpasses the current global, BRIC, and G7 averages. While there remains immense scope of improvement, these trends are testament to the fact that the landscape is definitely evolving – signaling an exciting journey ahead for professionals from all walks of life,” Gooptu stated.

Furthermore, she shared her aspiration for balance in life across all fronts. She said that for mothers like her, prioritising children while maintaining work commitments poses a significant challenge. She expresses gratitude towards her organisation for initiatives such as creche partnerships and flexible work hours, which enable her to balance a fulfilling professional and personal life effectively.

When asked about qualities needed for women to become leaders, Gooptu emphasised skill development and a continuous learning mindset. She stressed the importance of empathy and collaboration as integral interpersonal skills, saying, “While having the right skills for the job is indispensable in any professional journey, I believe that making conscious choices plays a crucial role in accelerating progress.”

Since her passion for building brands is one thing that never ceases to excite her, she finds joy in understanding consumer needs and crafting strategies that resonate with them.

In discussing skills crucial for success in the industry, she emphasised the value of both hard and soft skills, alongside adapting to technologies like AI and fostering interpersonal connections.

She stressed, “In today’s competitive landscape, perfecting an alchemy of hard and soft skills can truly set someone on the path to success.”

In terms of female-led businesses, she acknowledged that while there has been progress, there is still a need for further positive change.

She said, “While there has historically been an imbalance in the representation of female-led businesses in the country, it is encouraging to see some positive shifts that are underway already.”

In conclusion, Gooptu’s insights shed light on the changing dynamics of the alcohol industry and the importance of inclusivity and innovation in driving success. She believes that as the industry continues to evolve, embracing diversity and fostering empowerment will be key to shaping a future where professionals from all backgrounds can thrive.

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