Hearing from the SPJ Superwomen – Alumni Talk with Meru Sharma

Continuing the conversations with SPJ Superwomen across domains, we caught up with Meru Sharma (GMBA 2015) to hear her tale!

Meru Sharma

You’ve been doing wonderfully well in the corporate world. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I am a Digital marketer with Diageo, a global leader in alcoholic beverages with iconic brands like Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff, Black Dog, McDowells, Captain Morgan, and many others. The perks of my job include handling the digital marketing for VIVO IPL franchise – Royal Challengers Bangalore, owned by Diageo (and meeting Virat once in a while!)

What was your dream job as a kid?

A girl once told her mom, I want to be a musician, an artist, a painter. I can’t choose, I want to be them all. This describes me as a kid.

How do you deal with organisational bureaucracy?

More than organizational bureaucracy, it’s the fine line between a ‘Shark’ and ‘Fox’ (leadership traits) that helps in tackling the very ethos of your industry’s behavioral mindset, though the leadership trait might vary from person to person and across industries.

Alco-Bev (Alcoholic Beverages), a traditionally male dominated industry, is gradually evolving & breaking the glass-ceiling. However, it is still considered a taboo seeing women handling this profile, visiting liquor stores while on a market visit, standing behind the bars, inspecting samples and new product launches. It is here that as women we have to exhibit a go-getter attitude and become more socially inclusive.

What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?

According to a McKinsey survey of more than 4000 employees of a leading company, about 36% of men expressed a desire to reach C-suite position as compared to only 18% of women. This data point clearly reflects the leadership ambition gap between men and women.

Women tend to forego successful jobs at a certain life-stage because the role demands more responsibility. They are often expected to handle their families along with their careers by the virtue of being deemed a ‘Nurturer’. Its either this or joining the bandwagon of ‘Assertive’ corporate honchos. Unfortunately, most of the women choose the former. I believe that you can be a still be an ambitious woman while also being nurturing.

Who are your heroines? What about them appeals to you?

Sheryl Sandberg (COO, Facebook) and Kayla Itsines (Founder of BBG program and Sweat Fitness App) are great sources of inspiration for me.

Sheryl and her foundation LeanIn.org is undertaking admirable initiatives to solve the leadership gap. She says, “Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence”.

Kayla, with her fitness program, has built a strong community of 10 Mn women who trust her combination of workout and recipes to become fitter.

That’s the power of true leadership.

What will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you?

While there are majority women graduating out of top institutions & filling up entry level jobs, there are very few who climb up the career ladder. Leadership ambition gap, self-doubt & shying away from taking risk might become more pronounced for the later generations. As jobs become more challenging, it’s only a #SUPERWOMAN who can survive.

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