Be Ordinary But Rebuild With Meaningful Momentum: Pooja Trehan

Celebrating the contributions of women in the PR industry, exchange4media PR & Corp Comm is hosting a “Women Achievers Series”. It showcases 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 Trehan, Director, Marketing Communications, SugarBox Networks. Trehan has over 16 years of communications experience and has previously worked with reputable names such as Colgate-Palmolive, Castrol India, Bennett & Coleman and Genesis BCW. She also successfully ran her own business – PRestaurants – a specialist consultancy for F&B brands.

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?

We are all returning to what was called “normal” life for decades. So this transition shouldn’t be as difficult as we claim. However, the main thing is to keep in mind the hardships that the past two years have inflicted on the planet, and therefore, to pay attention to our personal safety, to continue to invest in our health, to be kind to us -ourselves and others around us, to stay careful (disinfect, wear a mask), do not exhaust yourself (revenge work) and finally give back the joy of meeting people! Many understand that the transition will be slow, which is why companies are starting with hybrid working options that are partly remote to allow plenty of time to get to the physical office. Likewise, the focus on the future for productive deliverables was a conscious decision by all managers.

The last 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?

How we handled this “pandemic era” has been written about more than we ever imagined. Surprisingly, for once, everyone had to find their own personalized solutions to deal with the after-effects caused by this virus. So it’s tricky when someone says they’ve managed to balance work and home. Because, for most of the year, we’ve all struggled to find solutions and deal with more than just pressures at work and at home. It was ultimately about accepting change, being honest about our abilities, no longer participating in a rat race, and being aware that we were walking our own journey. And that’s what balance meant to me.

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.

Rewards and recognition are the north star landmarks for all of us to realize and learn as we move toward growth. And I’m grateful to the industry for recognizing my efforts in all of my roles – PR agency, corporate communications, my entrepreneurial company PRestaurants, and now at SugarBox Networks. These recognitions and decades spent in the communications industry have emphasized crystal clear messages – never stop learning and keep improving! Keeping this in mind, my contributions to the industry have focused on how to bridge the gap between theoretical and practical knowledge. This is crucial for an industry that must continue to evolve faster than change. And so, my associations with PRPOI (Public Relations Professionals of India), WICCI PR and Digital.

With PRPOI, our (founders’) goal is to create a knowledge repository to improve skills, learning from industry veterans. This naturally creates a pool of mentors for professionals who are evolving within the communications ecosystem or who have just joined it. We were also the pioneers in introducing the concept of #PRforPR which is about creating visibility for storytellers behind the scenes and creating effective content marketing on various social media platforms.

At the WICCI Council, the goal of the extremely talented team is to assess how we might best create opportunities for professional women to grow in this fraternity. In addition to expanding opportunities through mentorship, the council has implemented various programs to highlight the issues that exist and the solutions that could alleviate those concerns.

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

Stereotypes. Bias. Unconscious bias. Deeply rooted culture. These are not mere words, but behaviors that continue to coexist even today. We no longer need to delve into why and how they exist, but the fact that any change is happening even today still requires the effort of more than one village or tribe. And these are the typical obstacles throughout personal and professional growth. Even today, being a woman, the barrage of obstacles to overcome is no less, especially when challenging the status quo to join the “big boy club”. Fortunately, these were endured with the guidance of mentors and excellent teammates (internal and external). But the realization that it is far from over, and that difficulties should be seen as new opportunities, is what separates a leader from the herd. The higher you walk, though the view is clearer, it is also a platform for the universe to judge you on invisible scoreboards. So stay humble, avoid the storms and always prepare to give your best. Keep repeating until you become pro-change!

What advice would you give to the younger generation?

Adapt and grow, sustainably. Understand the talent each brings to the table and assess which piece goes where. Keep your growth journey slow but focus on the basics and fundamentals. Never underestimate the importance of collaborating with a team and learning from mentors early in your career. Read and write. Yes, the basics, but do them as often as you can. As communication professionals, know that the trick is more on the dialogue, so choose appropriate words for your narration and your story will create impact.

Remember relative speed? Moving is not enough. You might move quickly, but things in the external environment would still be ahead. Alternatively, your speed may be average, but still higher than the external environment. It is therefore important to keep in mind how you evolve with real-time changes.

People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it and what you do just proves what you believe – Simon Sinek.

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