Invite more men into the diversity agenda to retain women in tech, says Meenu Bagla of Tech Mahindra
Meenu Bagla leads the global charter of brand, content, field, and digital marketing for Tech Mahindra, and comes with over 20 years of global experience with ecommerce startups and IT & BPO industry.
Her experience spans across providing a spectrum of consulting and IT services, enterprise business solutions, and technology products to industry leaders such as Wipro, Oracle, and Aditya Birla Group, among others.
At Tech Mahindra, she is responsible for steering the brand through digital, social media, field, and content marketing programmes. As a member of Global Marketing Council, she also overlooks the global brand, cultural properties, and MarTech adoption.
In a conversation with HerStory, Meenu talks about driving change at Tech Mahindra, and what can be done to attract and retain women in tech.
HerStory (HS): Tell us a bit about your background and education.
Meenu Bagla (MB): I completed my Master’s in Marketing Management from Nirma Institute of Management, and Bachelor’s in Management Sciences from the International Institute of Professional Studies, Indore. I have also completed an Executive Programme in Digital Marketing and Social Media Planning from Columbia Business School.
I am a 70s child, and was raised in a middle class joint family, born in the literary town of Kolkata, and lived in more than a dozen cities and a few countries. Being a global head of Digital Marketing, I get a lot of opportunities to travel around because of which I learned many languages (I can speak in seven and read four), absorbed many cultures, and developed an appreciation for diversity of perspectives.
HS: Can you trace your career journey?
MB: My two-decade career journey is marked by two significant traits.
Continuous learning: from a fresher salesperson in Singapore to being a marketing head of a $5 billion organisation, each milestone was marked by my drive to learn and experiment something new. Thankfully, I have been blessed with mentors who nurtured the rebel in me and empowered me to make an impact.
Resilience to bounce back: whether it was 9/11 or the 2008 financial debacle, each crisis brought new opportunities and the key to success has been to not crumble against what’s lost but what’s new out there.
HS: Tell us about your role at Tech Mahindra
MB: I lead Global Marketing at Tech Mahindra, with a specific focus on brand and digital. I am responsible for steering the Tech Mahindra brand through digital, social media, field, and content marketing programmes. As a member of the Mahindra Global Marketing Council, I also overlook the global brand, cultural properties, and MarTech adoption. It’s also about driving inspirations to business impact through power of relevant conversations.
HS: What changes in the field have you brought to the organisation.
MB: Two significant changes I am proud of are, leading with digital and delivering with LEAN marketing. It means giving up the old traditional models during scores of expensive shows and events, and rather investing in digital platforms to drive sustained relevant conversations.
Conversations platform, like the one we developed in partnership with WSJ INTHEFUTURE, is one such example. Another great example is our sustainable website that is built to create conversations and not just broadcast updates.
I am a big believer that great marketing doesn’t need big teams or budgets, and successful marketing can be driven through lean and efficient structures, small budgets, and a flex-planning approach to each campaign. I have delivered award winning programs at one-hundredth of the budget spent by peers, ran marketing with a team that’s smaller than that of many startups. The key is to focus on building an efficient eco-system and not develop a mammoth in-house structure.
HS: What has been your biggest success and challenges in your journey?
MB: Lean Marketing powered by digital and social media and driven by gig models has been core strength in my journey.
The biggest challenge has been to re-calibrate the mindset of old world leaders and executives who couldn’t see the future coming faster than they envisioned.
HS: Do you think women in technology are a rare breed?
MB: Well, wouldn’t call us as rare breed, but the challenge has been to nurture women in tech as leaders. Some of us who are blessed with great mentors aren’t the norm. The statistics are still far from impressive. We have a long way to go.
HS: How has the perception towards women in tech changed over the years?
MB: We are great workers but we need great leaders too. Thanks to the fight of some bold and brave women, the perception is changing, but again there are miles to go.
HS: How can we attract more women into tech? What do you see in the future?
MB: According to an HBR article I read recently, the biggest problem is the culture of always being available as a requirement for success. And while both men and women are impacted, women pay much higher professional costs.
Long work hours are necessary, and women’s stalled advancements is inevitable. But we need to let go of these ideologies to see more women in tech, actually more women in workforce, period.
HS: Do you mentor women?
MB: Mentorship has long been regarded as an effective way to hone talent and get people on the fast-track for success. In the case of mentoring team for the organisation or students of my college/B-Schools, mentorship can play a pivotal role, for it can influence not only success in their chosen field, but also help them stay the course in the face of challenges and build openness and awareness to roles and jobs they may never have put their hat in the ring for themselves.
However, with women, conversations often extend beyond just their career to include work-life balance, and life stage transition challenges that they often face.
HS: What more can be done to retain women in tech in the workforce?
MB: Three things can change the game.
- It’s not good enough to just make policies, but they must be implemented in full.
- Retire the old boys’ club mindset and invite more men into the diversity agenda
- Make each women leader responsible with targets to play a pivotal role to increase the percentage of women. (if we can do it no one else can)
HS: What are your future plans?
MB: Write a book, take a break, and experiment more. One thing that COVID-19 has taught me personally is live fearlessly like there is no tomorrow, and if tomorrow comes, it’s proud of your yesterday.
(Edited by Megha Reddy)