Archana Agarwal

Vice President- Brand

Breaking Stereotypes

I am a fighter, a quality I inherited from my mother. I remember a defining moment when I was a child and my mother helped me fight a battle for getting me enrolled in Karate. It was my life’s first lesson - if you want to do something, just go ahead and do it! She instilled in me the importance of education and being a financially independent and a strong woman. Being a working woman was a taboo in my family. When my time came I held my ground, with the support of my mother, eventually broadening my grandmother’s mindset.

The Career Journey

Media is a domain I have worked throughout my career; first 10 years in ad agencies and the next 10 years heading media for various companies. I started with a short stint in sales before joining McCann-Erickson where I worked for close to 6 years. That was followed up by 7 years in another ad agency called Fulcrum that handled clients such as Unilever India. It was then I felt the need to upgrade my skills and finished my MBA. Soon after, I moved into brand strategy and worked on brands like Nicholas Piramal, Onida and Vodafone amongst others. The next 8+ years I worked with P&G, where I traveled internationally and gained a lot of exposure.

Mentoring & Leadership

I cannot pin-point any one person who has changed the course of my career as there would be multiple influencers. I have mentored a lot of people but I believe in teaching how to fish rather than giving them a fish. Giving six months maternity leave to a team member and leaving the position vacant was my way of leaning forward and doing my bit as a leader.

A Game of Juggle Balls

As a woman professional, we juggle lots of balls – work is like a rubber ball, which keeps bouncing back, while family and health are glass balls, which can be irrevocably broken. Being mentally and physically healthy is important. Work is important but you need your time. Shop, travel, spend quality time with family and friends and be happy. This principle has made me more conscious about work life balance and held me in good stead.

Life at Airtel

After staying all my life in Mumbai Airtel made me get out of my comfort zone. I have been associated with Airtel for the past two years. Even though, I was apprehensive at first, the journey has been real fun. People have preconceived notions about Delhi, but Delhiites are a helpful lot. I remember a particular night when after meeting with an accident I got an overwhelming support from people around me at Airtel - from going to the police to getting me back on my feet over almost a month. For me Airtel is a place I truly enjoy working at.

Success Mantras

My advice to young professionals always is not to take work lightly. Give yourself time and start investing in yourself. Mid-management level is tough. But remember - Managers are humans; they have their own quirks and you should learn how to manage that. To the women professionals, I would stress to believe in yourself while asking for your dues. Refuse to give in. Embrace challenges, be confident and continue to learn!