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Promoting Inclusivity & Holding Organizations Accountable Are Essential To Foster Fair & Respectful Work Environment: Keerthana Ramakrishnan

In her interaction with Marketing Mind, Keerthana Ramakrishnan, Chief Marketing Officer, 82°E, opened up on how her passion for ‘impactful storytelling’ and ‘fuelling the connection between brands and consumers’ got her shifting gears from Communications to Marketing, her intention to channel her experience and provide mentorship to young working women, importance of driving a positive impact and much more.

| Published on April 12, 2024

Having started her career as an Account Executive to helping establish a PR firm before switching from Communications to Marketing by joining Nike in June 2005 to now being the Chief Marketing Officer of Bollywood Actress Deepika Padukone’s 82°E, Keerthana Ramakrishnan’s growth journey as an individual has been worth noticing.

For somebody who has a deep-seated passion for impactful storytelling and fuelling the connection between brands and consumers, she has always been fascinated by the art and science of communication.

But having said that, it was the realisation that she could contribute in meaningful ways to how people perceive and engage with brands and finding purpose in driving a positive change via CSR initiatives and brand building that made the difference.

With a professional experience of over two decades and working across different brands and in various departments, Ramakrishnan has also had her fair share of stereotyping when it comes to stated and unstated gender-based norms.

Having said that, despite seeing them as a hurdle when navigating her way out, she mentioned that these challenges, in her opinion, taught her how to be resilient and focussed on the task at hand.

“Eventually, I’ve realized that through it all, I have become a more empathetic leader with a positive outlook,” she added.

Looking back at her own transformative journey, Ramakrishnan mentioned that she wouldn’t want to change anything if she were to restart and do things any differently.

“While I’m infinitely grateful to how my career has shaped and to the journey so far, the successes and challenges along the way have indeed made me who I am today, and they have played a transformative role in my growth and development,” she said.

Furthermore, she also mentioned that apart from being thankful for her experiences, she now wishes to channel her experience in providing guidance and mentorship to young people, especially women in the workforce to navigate their careers and deliver to their potential.

Commenting on whether the industry’s attitude towards women has evolved in the past couple years, when compared to when she first started, she affirmatively said, “While progress has been made in addressing gender bias and promoting equality, gender-typical incidents still occur in the workplace or even outside.”

“It’s essential to continue raising awareness, promoting inclusivity, and holding organizations accountable for fostering a fair and respectful work environment. Change takes time. We can continue to help create awareness and advocate for equality to build a more inclusive workplace for all,” she added.

With this, she also pointed out that there certainly has been a positive shift in the industry towards being inclusive and in recognizing diversity and that she’s been privileged to be instrumental in driving this positive change in some of the many roles she has served during her work journey so far.

“We can all do more and I remain committed to bringing about this change,” she said.

When considering the qualities necessary for women to thrive as leaders in a male-dominated business world of today, Ramakrishnan highlighted that leadership requires an individual to hone traits like confidence, resilience, adaptability, and strong communication.

“What has worked for me is to have a clear vision for the job, the team and for myself. I’ve also benefited by being collaborative, empathetic and trusting a strong support system of family, friends and colleagues,” she mentioned candidly.

As for having long-term success, she stated that what’s imperital to have is a combination of strategic thinking, creativity, adaptability, and effective communication whilst developing leadership skills and being empathetic.

During the course of the interaction, Ramakrishnan also threw light onto the fact that she personally finds her motivation to keep going everyday in getting the opportunity to create a positive impact in the community, albeit through her professional or volunteering work in the development space.

“I’m deeply passionate about education and sports access to girls. I find purpose in the ability to create change and inspire others through mentoring young people. My desire to see people engage in a positive manner with brands and causes and the knowledge that my work contributes to making the world a better place is what keeps me inspired,” she said.

For all that it’s worth, Ramakrishnan doesn’t shy away from acknowledging the fact that she has made plenty of mistakes in the past, but she’s also been fortunate enough to not only learn quickly from them but also have had leaders, colleagues and family supporting her through these situations.

Sharing one of the instances to support her take here, she mentioned, “Underestimating the importance of work-life balance at certain points in my career and tilting the balance fully on work was a mistake. I eventually learned the importance of self-care and the significance of maintaining a healthy work-life equilibrium, which has contributed to my overall well-being and effectiveness.”

Commenting on the relatively low number of female-led businesses and startups in the modern-day Indian ecosystem, she acknowledged that there has been a recent positive trend of increased female entrepreneurs which is highly encouraging.

“I am particularly proud to be a part of a prestigious organization like 82°E, led by our dynamic cofounder Deepika Padukone. I have also worked very closely with several women leaders and athletes, all of whom are inspiring and have brought about positive change,” she added.

Concludingly, she also advised young women to believe in themselves, be persistent, and seek out mentors and role models and said, “Enjoy the journey and along the way build a support system that you can count on. Embrace challenges as opportunities for growth and forge ahead.”

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