Tata group is witnessing a trend of a growing brigade of women chief marketing officers. The steel- to-software conglomerate has nine women CMOs.
As the $104-billion Tata Group expands its presence in consumer-facing businesses, which by now clearly contrast its traditional manufacturing and hardcore commodity businesses, it is witnessing a trend of a growing brigade of women chief marketing officers (CMOs).
Across companies like Titan, Trent, Indian Hotels Company, Tata Chemicals, Tata Capital, Tata Trusts and Tata Communications, the steel-to-software group — which directly touches 650 million people through its consumer-facing businesses — has nine women CMOs. This is an impressive number when compared to other diversified Indian conglomerates.
Women managers are in demand in marketing departments, given their ability to multitask as also their understanding of core consumers, that is, women. When dealing with women as a consumer, most marketers think it wise to have women leaders frame product strategies. Harish Bhat, brand custodian at Tata Sons, who has been with the group for three decades, has clearly seen this trend play out. Bhat said marketing today requires far more multitasking than it did, say, 10-20 years ago. He expects this trend to strengthen in future.
“I think modern marketing requires three brains. There’s the left brain which is to do with data analytics, the science of marketing and media planning. But equally important is the right brain which is to do with creativity, imagination and design. Sometimes, I fear, marketers are getting so swamped by data analytics and all the numbers, that the right brain is getting submerged. And then of course you require a third brain to synthesize inputs from the first two brains, narrate authentic and captivating stories, and engage constantly with consumers across diverse media,” Bhat told TOI, in an exclusive interview.
“So clearly, today, senior marketers, including CMOs, have to multitask across these three brains to engage successfully with consumers. Based on experience, I believe women professionals can multitask far more seamlessly. They multitask better at work, because I think they also multitask far better in life,” Bhat said.
Over the last two decades, the Tata Group has diversified into a number of businesses that had a direct connect with consumers. Be it tea, jewellery or clothing — the key decision makers are women. As the group changed its culture and introduced women-friendly policies, it began to attract more women managers. This year, of the number of direct recruits who joined the group through the much acclaimed Tata Administrative Services (TAS), 50 per cent were women.
The numbers have been in the range of 45-50 per cent women employees from TAS over the last three years. Prior to that, it was in the range of 30-40%. As its number of women inched up each year (approx 178,000 as of April 2017), the Tata group’s pipeline of female leaders, too, started to build.
Describing the rise of women CMOs at the Tata Group as a natural progression, Bhat, however, said gender diversity for marketing is an imperative. “At the top of the marketing profession today, there are many more women who are orchestrating brilliant efforts for their respective companies and brands. Many of our companies in the Tata Group also see a strong pipeline of women marketers growing up through the ranks — both at junior and middle levels,” said Bhat.
“Companies of the Tata Group are empowered to hire on their own depending on the kind of capabilities and skill profiles they require. Some women marketers in Tata have grown within the group over several years, and some are lateral hires from outside. We are totally focused on building a leadership pool for the future — the finest marketers of tomorrow.”