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Women Need To Push Harder To Carve Their Own Path Owing To Societal & Cultural Biases: Divya Aggarwal

In her interaction with Marketing Mind, Divya Aggarwal, Chief Growth Officer, Impresario Entertainment & Hospitality, talked about how having a keen interest in ‘Consumer Insights’ opened her to the world of marketing, how the marketing industry is evolving to be more inclusive, how the industry is breaking the age old perceptions for women in business and much more.

| Published on March 14, 2024

Celebrating Woman Leaders (Divya Aggarwal)

For someone who entered the world of marketing owing to her keen interest in ‘Consumer Insights’ and later involved working in a Revenue role at one of the leading microblogging platforms, Divya Aggarwal’s journey has been nothing short of inspiring.

Having started her career with IMRB International and then entering the world of brands, starting with Nestle in the FMCG space, working as a CMO with one of the healthy snacking and premium startups, to working in the revenue side of things at Twitter and being a part of the Jubilant Foodworks’ team which launched Popeyes in the Indian market and now as Chief Growth Officer at Impresario, what has stayed constant in her life is her commitment to decode consumer behaviours.

“I was always determined to understand people, communicate, and connect with them on an authentic level. As marketers, it is important for us to bridge the gap between brands and consumers, to build authentic, genuine relationships versus transactional engagements. Combine that with data around consumer touchpoints, and today’s marketers are a lot more equipped to predict and act on human behaviour and future trends. This art and science of making an impact in people’s lives and the constant learnings this field provides, keeps me inspired as a marketer and a storyteller,” she said.

Today, Aggarwal leads the marketing and communication verticals that help to grow all Impresario brands including SOCIAL, antiSOCIAL, Smoke House Deli and BOSS Burger, among others.

Delving deep into what has continually fueled her passion for pursuing marketing as a career path, she emphasised that it is the amalgamation of art, science, and data inherent in influencing people’s lives, coupled with the perpetual learning opportunities in this domain which excites her the most and keeps her going.

“As a Chief Growth Officer in an industry as dynamic as hospitality has presented exciting opportunities. While each industry has its own challenges, I have been overseeing the marketing efforts at Impresario at a juncture where we are shaping the trajectory of India’s culinary, co-working, community, and cultural landscape. However, more brands are entering the market and existing brands are ramping up their businesses. To counter this and to distinguish ourselves, we’ve had to double down on customer engagement to enhance existing customer experience in existing markets whilst simultaneously broadening our base by catering to emerging markets pan-India. Our hyperlocal vision, pincode-driven growth strategy, and bringing new, unique experiences to consumers have been instrumental in combating these challenges,” she elaborated.

With this she also mentioned that since the digital landscape is ever evolving, demanding marketers’ proactive adaptation to emerging technologies and platforms in order to manage a consistent brand voice across diverse digital channels for its varied audience poses complexities, she at Impresario will continue to balance and constantly listen the brand’s consumers and communities who have shaped the brand, and in the process, curate personalised experiences for the consumers within the Impresario ecosystem.

Commenting on how she has seen the welcoming approach of people in the industry towards women in business, Aggarwal stated that the marketing arena has certainly evolved and transitioned into a space that is more inclusive and welcoming.

“Today, companies across industries are acknowledging the significance of diversity and inclusion, actively striving to enhance representation by recruiting more women and individuals from other underrepresented groups across the board, which is encouraging and inspiring to see. At Impresario too, we are continually working to create a diverse and welcoming environment and build inclusive communities, whether that’s at our outlets or in the corporate teams,” she added.

Throwing light on some of the qualities that one must hold to become a successful leader in the male-dominant world of business, in her views, Aggarwal mentioned that having inherent qualities such as confidence, agility, and empathy combined with great communication skills is the hallmark of becoming a leader in the world of business.

But that said, she also mentioned that women tend to hold an advantage with their EQ, which helps businesses create genuine, emotional connections with their audiences as fostering trust within the teams and empowering capable leaders is an important responsibility.

“Lately, the marketing ecosystem has changed at a very fast pace. We are living in a VUCA world where consumers have reduced attention spans and brands all around are constantly fighting for their attention. How does a marketer survive, and thrive in these conditions? Agility is a key quality that can help marketing and communication professionals to stay ahead of the curve. The ability to assess and pivot has been proven time and again as an important skillset required at the leadership level,” she opined.

In addition, she also echoed that since most people in today’s times live their lives online, what is also required of marketers is to understand and harness the various technologies available at their disposal.

“Today, the lines of different functions of marketing are blurry. No longer are things just PR, digital, or advertising – business and intent signals flow all around. As a marketer, it is important to have an integrated communication mindset. It is important to improvise and understand the objective and touchpoints that will create the right impact to achieve the business results that one has in mind,” she added.

And while she has been fortunate enough to not be subjected to any major challenges for being a working woman in the industry whose guiding north stars have been hard work, resilience, and determination, Aggarwal also drew attention to the fact that women need to push harder to carve their own path due to several societal and cultural biases.

“The marketing industry, as compared to other functions, has had higher representation of women in recent years with many emerging as trailblazers and thought leaders. As industries evolve, more women have been driving change in C-suite roles, including the hospitality industry. And, while it is encouraging to see women at the forefront of F&B ventures, we need to ensure that women across industries get these avenues, especially in sectors that have been traditionally male-dominated,” she said.

As per Aggarwal, even though the fraternity is making efforts in creating equal opportunities, there is more work to be done as a professional community to address challenges like gender pay gap, skewed representation and access to executive roles.

For somebody who acknowledges that women business leaders like Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Vineeta Singh and Falguni Nayar have been a source of inspiration in her professional journey, her advice for young women entering the world of hospitality is that the age old perceptions do not work anymore and therefore, one should learn as many different skillsets as possible so that they can add value across the board.

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