Quick Take with Sonia Bhatnagar

January 4, 2019

Sonia Bhatnagar

Sonia loves telling a good story over most things in life. She believes in ideas being the most powerful weapons we have to change the world. She has always tried to bring the two together to solve problems and create campaigns that stick and grow brands. She has launched and grown a diverse range of brands including Pepsi's Kurkure, Sofy, Apollo Tyres and more recently Wipro’s flagship brand Santoor. Sonia currently heads creative for Adk – Fortune Bangalore, a JWT company, moving cities after twenty years of being with JWT Delhi.

It's going to be two years now since I moved to a new role in a new city. Two years after twenty years of being in the same agency in Delhi. 

I moved alone. Without my family. Seeing them on alternate weekends. Men do it all the time. That was the ask and I didn't want to pass up this senior leadership role and heading a new agency started by my company. 

My main brand was a large soap brand, then the second largest in the country. When I arrived, the client was disgruntled, the work was shoddy, the team was non-existent. It took me some time and some hard learning, but I've turned around that situation entirely. 

I wanted to write newer, more empowering stories for women and see them come to life. I hired some wonderful women to write these stories. I'm happy to report it is right at the top today. To a large extent, I made it happen.

There's still so much to be done though. 

The typical female consumer is patriarchal in her mindset and that makes the client cautious. Maybe too cautious. But I understand and I'm hopeful that big change is already underfoot. I have to walk the thin line and make sure I don't come on too strong, and I'm doing it. 

My family has been wonderful through it all. My husband continues to be a big support and single-handedly manages my home in Delhi. My daughters are more independent and self-reliant. They love to tell their friends about the cool new office their mom 'heads' and their other home in Bangalore. Having said that, the challenge continues to be to grow in the organization. I have seen my business counterparts grow and move on to better roles. 

I never actively preemptively 'asked' before. I am doing that now and, even though it is yet to happen, I feel empowered just to have dared to ask. 

Women don't ask for what they deserve enough. There's always something they are afraid to lose in the process. Just letting go of the fear has been liberating. 

I can't say it enough but I probably wouldn't have taken on this role or asked for a bigger better one if it wasn't for the 3 Percent and all it's made me realize.