I have recently spent an amazing…and enlightening…3 months as the National President of the Women’s Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, collaborating with my Council members, 20 senior women professionals who are incredibly sharp and top of their game!
The “amazing” part has been the generosity of these professionals, who come from all areas of communications…public relations, corporate communications, journalism, digital marketing. These seasoned professionals spend time in the middle of their busy work week to talk about how we could give back to our industry.
The “enlightening” part has been my own re-realization of the wealth of knowledge out there for women – aspiring leaders, students…and others, I might add…to take advantage of.
I also work as a Reputation Management specialist and tell my “young team” time and again that all they have to do is ask, with the expectation that they actually will do that. Some do. Most don’t.
I keep forgetting two things…(a) that these young professionals are just that…young and (b) that I was/am exactly like them…reluctant to simply walk up to someone and fire up a conversation. (Yeah, I’m an introvert, with a lifetime membership card!)
Then I think of those…myself included…who are considered the “senior leaders”…and how we could be more proactive in our efforts to connect with and provide advice to the next generation(s) of professionals.
Several of our organisations have done a terrific job through their in-house outreach initiatives to offer guidance, advice, mentoring to young aspiring leaders. But they/we/you/I can do better.
- First and foremost, recognize and accept that you, as a “seasoned” professional, scare the life out of our younger ones.
- You know stuff, and you’ve done things, that they have only read about it in their textbooks and have just about begin experiencing it.
- Whether you realize it or not, you’re one of the “wow leaders” in their estimation. And leaders are pedestalized and so unapproachable.
So here’s a thought…
- Indicate through your social channels that you are happy to share your work and experiences. Invite folks from industry to: “TALK TO YOU and share theirs!”
- Second, join hands with any industry body that is looking for mentors, offer your time and experience for grooming our future leaders.
- Third when you are at a physical industry event…if you see an obviously new or unfamiliar younger face, break away from your group of peers i.e. ‘the leader’s group’, walk over, stick out your hand, and say “hello.”
I know this flies in the face of everything we teach, preach, and beseech our up-and-comers to do. And, yes, they should be the proactive party. But…
Twenty-six years ago, I was a trainee just starting out my career to become a communications professional at Ogilvy PR.
I was new to work life. I was new to “real” PR. I was new to Ogilvy. And, as the card-carrying introvert mentioned earlier, I was apprehensive, lost, and unsure!
An “older” gentleman saw me enter the room with my deer-in-the-headlights look. He motioned to me to come over, stuck out his hand, warmly introduced himself, and started asking questions.
Turned out (this is sooo cool!) he was the Chairman of Ogilvy, the legendary late Ranjan Kapur, for all those who know of him!
What a shot of adrenalin and excitement! I was totally hooked on Ogilvy. If this was typical of how members of my new profession acted with newbies, then what would it be like to learn and work alongside them?!?
So here I am today, a “seasoned veteran” who has done a few neat things in the course of her own career and is now sharing her knowledge and experience with future comms pros. And it’s all due in large part to a really amazing experience more than a quarter of a century ago when someone who had absolutely NO idea who I was and who was a bazillion steps higher up the employment food chain than I could ever hope to be, took the proactive step of reaching out to me to SHARE, GUIDE, and MOTIVATE.
Can you do the same? Can you share your journey? Can you inspire?
If you care…please share!
National President, PR & Digital Marketing Council
Women’s Indian Chamber of Commerce & Industry