IWD2021 #ChooseToChallenge: Anoosha Livani

Author Wendy Gray
March 8, 2021

Disclaimer: Please note that all commentary and opinions provided in this interview are those of the individual and not the organisation/company they are employed by. 

What does “choose to challenge” mean to you?

This is a very interesting question – as one of the biggest lessons I’ve learnt is ‘pick your battles’ – this turns that on its head! ‘Choose to challenge’ to me has been about challenging the status quo; in the context of marketing – not doing things for the sake of it or because that is ‘what has always been done’ – but really asking the right questions: what is the client interested in? What are the key challenges for the client? How can we help address them? What topics and themes are of interest? How can we steer industry conversations and so on? ‘Choosing to challenge’ is also about earning your seat at the table. Engaging with your stakeholders and understanding their needs as well as those of the clients, in order to make informed decisions and eventually be able to preempt such decisions and be one step ahead. I have worked in a variety of organisations, some diverse and some less so. That said, I was the only woman in the room in my early career, but it was an incredibly inclusive environment and one where I learnt a huge amount and never felt any different because of my gender. I learnt that the men I worked with would challenge each other and an extremely heated debate would follow – but it was never personal. That is not always the case! 

What is one lesson you learnt the hard way? 

Unfortunately, if someone is unpleasant to you in the workplace, it says far more about them than it does about you. I have been very fortunate to work with some wonderful people over the years, but there is the occasional bad apple sadly. I learnt that steely resolve, a presence of mind and belief in my own strength of character and qualities keep me going when the going gets tough. Sometimes this is easier said than done, but one definitely has to learn the hard way at times – in all walks of life, not just work. Culture is also incredibly important and again – as adaptable and flexible as I think I am, sometimes I have had to walk away when a culture does not match the values important to me. Brands need to practice what they preach in terms of values – it is no longer about lip service and catchy straplines. 

How can female leaders ensure they get a seat at the table? 

I grew up in an environment with many strong male and female family members and a mixed heritage, which has helped me relate to people from all backgrounds and walks of life and I hope also to understand some of the challenges life throws at us. I always think those of us who work in marketing and communications have a unique position – we work across many stakeholders – sales, product, compliance, regions or countries etc – so we have to adapt and also work with diversity of thought and sometimes conflicting challenges and demands. I’m not sure if it is because I’m a woman or if it’s my personality, but I know I am good at bringing people together to achieve a common goal. Sometimes as a woman you do need to shout louder to be heard, but I find it is ultimately about what you say and how you say it, rather than contributing to what can seem like an endless stream of white noise.

Click below to read the full edition of IWD2021 #ChooseToChallenge: Female Leaders Across The Globe.https://indd.adobe.com/embed/bb2678fd-fafb-4e5f-b57b-bbe97612e7cf?startpage=1&allowFullscreen=true


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