What would it be like if the person in the next office was your brother or sister? Or the corporate communications client across the table your wife? Or, if you could just pick up the phone and call your sister to chat about your job issues. Or, if your entire set of in-laws both owned and worked at your office?
We speak to some of the PR pros who actually live some of these lives and make it work; for whom PR is very much all in the family!
These are their stories.
The Power Couple!
Nikhil and Deepa Dey
One heads communications at GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare Ltd for India, while the other is president, public relations and public affairs for Genesis Burson –Marsteller, one of India’s top PR consultancies. They are also consultant and client as well as husband and wife.
So how does that play out?
Deepa who works in-house with GSK says, “I have never seen this as a challenge. In fact, it helps to understand each other better.”
Nikhil agrees saying about Deepa, “She completely understands the pressures and pleasures that the profession brings with it, so no explanations required for the late hours, sudden trips or working weekends. The added bonus is we occasionally get to attend a PR conference together…. who says you can’t mix work and pleasure!”
Handling a client –consultant relationship
Both Nikhil and Deepa work for high profile companies with an ongoing professional relationship, Deepa says this is something the two of them have handled throughout their career.
Says Deepa, “Both our employers are aware of our relationship. These disclosures along with the internal ethical and compliance policies of our respective companies make us comfortable and put us at ease. We are actually very used to Chinese walls having worked with competitive mandates in the past. (Airtel/Vodafone - SpiceJet/indigo) for a large part of our work life this is a situation we have learnt to navigate. Actually I think the pressure is more on our teams than us .”
|Deepa’s top tips for handling an overlap in personal and professional ties|
- Early and total disclosure
- Be objective in dealing with work conflict
- If you absolutely need to discuss work at home preface the
conversation with -"now I need to speak with you on work"
Keeping the personal equation steady
At the end of the day this is also a very close family bond. Both Deepa and Nikhil have taken concrete steps to avoid conflict.
Says Nikhil, “We are both ambitious and driven. Ensuring that we don't start competing with each other was something we were careful to avoid and hence chose different paths with in the same profession. She pursuing an in-house career and me in the agency world allows us enough space to find our respective places in the sun, in different parts of the same world.”
The Malik sisters
Aashima and Ankita Malik
One works at a PR consultancy, the other in-house. Both specialize in the tech space. Very often, they have better things to do in their free time then talk shop. Together, they have been nicknamed “The Malik sisters”!
Aashima Malik, senior consulting associate, Genesis Burson-Marsteller loves working in the same profession as her sister. She says, “Trust me when I say that there has never been a challenge. Yes, at times we do discuss work but then those discussions never turn in to arguments. We respect each other’s professional privacy and make sure that it isn’t breached.”
Ankita Malik, manager- corporate communication & marketing, Intex, says Aashima’s example of hard work and love for the PR profession is what inspired her to join PR too.
Ankita says they are very careful to ensure space for each other, “We have a very simple rule – No work discussions at home. We are sisters and we have a lot of other stuff to talk about after a long day at work!”
The well balanced PR pair
Girish and Hina Huria
Both have worked in PR for fourteen years, many times in the same organisation. They have also been married for most of these fourteen years and successfully dealt with the challenges of being in the same profession.
Hina and Girish Huria at a Bollywood night theme party at Avian Media
Given a choice Hina Huria, consultant and currently the awards director for Fulcrum Awards, would not change one thing about being in the same profession as her husband.
She shares however that there is one challenge, “What annoys me is that people from the industry or the offices we worked in, aren't able to de-link their behavior or reactions towards us based on our individual actions or decisions, which we would have taken based on our position in the firm or the situation we were facing.”
Adds Hina, “Girish and I have chosen our own professional journey, which has also pitted us against each other during new business pitches. While we may have been extremely professional about it, but the words 'conflict of interest,' continued to hang like a sword over our necks, which created unnecessary drama and stress in our personal lives. Thankfully, we didn't let such episodes interfere in our personal lives, but it creates tension.”
Girish Huria, head of communications, eBay India is very honest about the challenges of working together. He says, “The added pressure of performing and doing well at workplace because your wife is around, would sometimes get the better of me. This was a big challenge in our initial years of working together, but as we matured, we understood how uniquely we wanted to shape our careers. I have to admit, that Hina supported me like a rock in my career aspirations, possibly at the cost of her own professional ambitions. “
Hina concludes, “There is no secret mantra we have had in continuing our journey in the PR industry and I will admit that we do talk shop at home. We don't have switch on / switch off buttons as well. However, there are certain non-stated rules we follow. We don't talk about work when we are with our son, or having our meals, or when we are with our families and friends.”
A sister, a brother and a sister –in-law
Sonia Huria Gupta
An alumni of the prestigious Xavier Institute of Communications, Sonia is vice president and head of corporate communications and CSR, Viacom18 Media Pvt. Ltd has both a brother ( Girish Huria) and sister –in-law ( Hina Huria) in the profession.
Says Sonia, “My brother and I, we’ve worked together in various scenarios – in one organization as part of different teams and in a client-agency role as well. And, honestly, when we are in the workplace – we’re as good as any two people working together. The challenges are the same that any two professionals face while working together.”
The family concern!
The team behind Quik Relations is also family.
Sachin Khurana shares his story saying, “I was introduced to PR by dad and then my brother was my mentor when I formally joined the organisation. Shruti, my wife, has been a big help ever since the day she joined and it’s easier to relate to each other's problems as we both work together. We are all part of the same field, hence, it's easier to understand the challenges related to work and thus come up with a solution.”
From left to right: PK Khurana, his wife Asha, his daughter –in-law Shruti, sons Sachin andSumit Khurana
Shruti Khurana, who has to work not only with her husband but a full set of in-laws says the solution is that, “You have to agree not to allow your personal feelings, either positive or negative, to enter into the office. Every member in the family has a separate role to play within the organisation and enjoys utmost liberty to make a decision, hence, space is never a problem. “