Self-confidence and passion separate a pack leader: Pooja Garg Khan

Celebrating the contributions of women in the PR industry, exchange4media PR & Corp Comm is hosting a “Women Achievers Series”. It will showcase the journey, success and accomplishments of some of the best female leaders in the public relations and corporate communications fraternity.

Today’s series features Pooja Garg Khan, Head of Corporate Communications, Panasonic India, a communications specialist with over 20 years of experience in corporate communications, public relations, government relations and CSR. During her career, she has worked in industries such as BFSI, FMCG, IT and Lifestyle. In addition, she also has a good understanding of brand building and the role of communications.

Excerpts from the interview:

Now that the industry is opening workplaces and resuming operations from the office, what are the initiatives, measures and precautions to be adapted/taken to ensure a smooth transition?

With employee safety as a primary focus during the third wave of Covid, we continued operations with a limited percentage of employees in the office and gradually increased to 100% with all safety protocols in place. As we have manufacturing plants across India and a large sales force, we didn’t really have the option of shutting down completely. The summer season is just around the corner, and we had to keep our appliances and power plant operational to manage the supply chain of air conditioners, refrigerators, and some other products. However, we have made exceptions for pregnant women and new mothers to continue working from home. A few initiatives that have helped us keep employees safe during these times:

  • All employees are double vaccinated and the eligible batch receives booster shots
  • Regular temperature and health checks when visiting the office
  • We continue to maintain social distancing in the offices with all meeting rooms converted to workstations, encourage the wearing of masks and ensure regular disinfection of the premises
  • Employees are encouraged to use virtual platforms for meetings and to avoid travel as much as possible

The past 20 months have been challenging for all professionals, especially with the hybrid work model. How did you find a balance between office work and household chores?

It has not been an easy period. Adjusting to a digital environment, balancing work with the broken support system was difficult. What got me through this was maintaining a strict routine and not giving in to negativity. Even when I had to work from home, I maintained the sanctity of office and home by balancing tasks. I consider myself lucky to have a supportive spouse and wonderful colleagues at Panasonic who have helped me navigate the past 20 months. Practicing yoga and meditation was therapeutic.

Women have carved out a place for themselves and paved the way in the communications industry for the next generation of female leaders. Tell us about your accomplishments and your contribution to the fellowship.

It has been two exciting decades for me in the field of communications. From being mentored to becoming a mentor, from listening to inspiring speakers to becoming one, from being part of a team to leading one, from being trained in training, it’s been quite a journey. In my opinion, even though I have positively touched the lives of a few women and inspired them to dream big, I consider my job done. Personally, I hope to continue to learn and unlearn as I move forward.

What obstacles did you have to overcome to get where you are today? According to you, what are the qualities of a leader?

I think I was very lucky with managers who understood my potential and supported my aspirations. I must have been in my twenties when I had the opportunity to lead the communication and CSR functions for such a prestigious brand as Aviva. There were challenges as a young leader, but with the right mentorship and training, I navigated through the same and it was my stepping stone to where I am today.

In my opinion, leaders are not necessarily born but are formed along the way. A quality that differentiates the leader from the pack is self-confidence and a passion to make a difference.

What advice would you give to the younger generation?

Dream big! Believe in yourself.

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