When I was five years old, I was often asked what I’d like to be when I grew up. Miss Universe, I’d say without batting an eyelid. Ironically I’d say it without even knowing what that meant. The only thing I knew was it was something big! As the years progressed, my answers to that question kept changing, but the burning desire to be ‘somebody’ never left me and became my driving force on the road to success.
The deep-rooted aspiration to shine and be applauded naturally saw me gravitate towards the stage. Always confident and very eloquent, I was actively involved in debating, declamations and dramatics during my school years at New Era Public School. Not content with just participating, I put in my best and went on to win National level debating championships for my alma mater. My stellar academic record, coupled with my extra-curricular portfolio saw me get into one of the most prestigious colleges in the country, Lady Shri Ram College (LSR) for Women.
Coming from a conservative family, I had never got the freedom or the opportunity to step out and experience the world as an independent individual. But my three wonderful years at LSR saw me metamorphose from a cocooned caterpillar into a vibrant, vivacious butterfly that was ready to soar and touch the sky. From topping the South Delhi Campus to winning laurels in debates and dramatics to heading the LSR Creative Writing Society, the exposure I gained during my college years, was priceless.
In these formative years, I had also realised that my calling lay in the field of communication. My ambition of building a career in communication led me to pursue my Masters in Journalism & Mass Communication from the Apeejay Institute of Mass Communication.
However, coming from a family where girls were never encouraged to work was a fear that kept looming large, and I knew I had to pull all the plugs to get my chance in the sun. Being the eternal optimist, I kept waiting with bated breath for the wheel to turn. And eventually, turn, it did.
I have always believed I was god’s special child, the chosen one and it was proved yet again when I became the only one in the entire batch to land an internship at the prestigious TV Today Group. The experience left me starry-eyed as I got a valuable chance of seeing my favourite anchors up, close and personal. Here, I learnt about the various facets and nuances of the media industry and more specifically, electronic media.
The very useful and professionally engaging stint at TV Today helped me land my first job at a specialised event, content and newsgroup, Arrucus Media, where I conceived, scripted and anchored programs for almost all premier business channels such as Zee Business, Times Now, Bloomberg, in addition to solo-anchoring premier events that saw participation from CEOs, Industry leaders, Union Ministers and other prominent dignitaries.
But just as I had found my feet and begun enjoying the fruits of success, I was got married because ‘it was time’, nixing my childhood dream of facing the arc-lights just as it was on its way to fruition. And since in our society, the parameter of your progression to the next step, is time, motherhood followed. Marriage and motherhood gave me immense bliss and some of the best moments of my life. But somewhere deep down, that five-year-old girl was still left waiting for HER ‘time’.
Then one day, in true filmy style, a phone call came. And that changed the course of my life. The life-altering call offered me the chance to anchor for the premier business channel of the Times group, ET Now. Like cold water to a parched soul, I grabbed the opportunity, that became the tipping point of my life, with both hands.
After that day, there was no looking back. I anchored back-to-back Award functions, Talk shows, TV episodes and the likes. Alongside, I started writing professionally. I wrote blogs, bios, social media posts, articles, websites and anything I could possibly lay my hands on. My love for communication kept egging me on to diversify into various fields that needed creativity or solid content.
But despite everything in life looking up, I knew something was still amiss. Like I could do more. Like there was still a reservoir of potential, waiting to be tapped. But the maternal pangs of guilt took over, admonishing me, reminding me of my priorities and in the process, systemically demolishing my dreams even before they could take shape. In a patriarchal world, it’s sad how women are always taught to put everyone ahead of themselves, dissuaded from dreaming and made to sacrifice their aspirations.
And then one day, against all the odds, my dream just fell into my lap, this time with an offer to enter the last facet of communication that I hadn’t touched so far – advertising. Having successfully handed all spheres of communication; media, content, events, in a career spanning over a decade, advertising and marketing communication were the only areas I hadn’t touched so far. I was offered to head a three-decade-old, well established, creative and digital marketing agency.
In that instant I knew, I was ready to take the hugest leap forward. And just like that, every apprehension, every fear, every barrier broke, and it all fell in place. That day I realised that the only limit you set and the only demons you need to fight are in your head.
Fast forward to present day, I am the Creative & Communications Head of a leading niche advertising agency, overseeing operations, strategy, business development, creative output and all other aspects of a mid-segment agency, and leading a team of 30 people.
My son is blossoming into a fine young lad building a strong track record of academic and extra-curricular achievements. My financial empowerment has added immense value to his life and enabled me to provide more opportunities for his holistic development.
At this juncture of having achieved all-round success, I feel, that’s it’s very important to contribute more than to just your immediate ecosystem, by giving back to society in whatever way one can. So I do my bit by working towards a better and purposeful society and media, heading the Indian Media Council as their Women Cell President (Delhi-NCR), working for the empowerment of underprivileged women.
As a parting shot, I want to tell every woman, single or married, young or old, let nobody pull you down by being judgemental, by telling you whether you’re good or not, whether you can do something or not, whether you can balance your life or not.
Since times immemorial, we’ve been told to ‘adjust’ (Read: Give Up). We’ve been told that if we succeed in one arena of our life, we will fail at another. The truth, dear ladies, that no one tells us is that we can do it ALL. So go on, take that baby step, and before you know it, it’ll become a giant leap that’ll break the glass ceiling.
“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”