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Meet Zeno's Riya Rupani and Anushweta Sinha Ray: How to connect with PR's Gen Z on Coffee with PRmoment India

When the hurly-burly of a day in communication is done, how does one slow down and think about the things that matter? With that in mind, PRmoment India sat down with two young PR professionals from Zeno over coffee to discuss the challenges of intergenerational communication, the specific challenges of DeI in India and how to bring in PR talent beyond Tier 1 cities.

I head to Mjol Bakehouse, an oasis of brickwork calmness in the middle of crowded, busy Gurgaon. 

When I reached Mjol, Riya -associate VP and Anushweta Sinha Ray, senior manager - of human resources, both from Zeno Group India were already there. We all grabbed a cappuccino ( with beans sourced from the south of India, as the cafe's genial co-owners say) and an iced latte (it's getting warm enough to drink that). 

Ketan Pote, Zeno Group India

Ketan Pote, senior vice president, head of Mumbai Office, technology & reputation Lead - India at Zeno Group Zooms in online from the maximum city. To get better sound, we all head out to the cafe's sit-out, and a pleasant breeze flows over us.

I ask what are the challenges around intergenerational communication at the workplace. Ketan says, "I think that today's workforce is very diverse. You will look at race and sexual orientation, for example, gender bias, ethnicity, different backgrounds and different values. 

But, I think the most important thing is to look at when you have three to four generations of workforce working together, how do you categorise the challenges. And in each of the generations, I think we need to first break the silos and accept that, for example, with my experience, can I mentor some of my colleagues from the knowledge and experience point of view and at the same time, I'm also equally open in learning from them adopting new technology, just the speed at which they can think and I think once you start respecting that, I think that's where I think the stereotype needs to be broken. 

Those of us from a certain generation and values we have been always told that we should always listen to our elders. And when we see millennials and the new generation generally giving their opinion, I don't think we shouldn't be offended. I think we should respect that, you know how much value the new generation is bringing to the table."

Kicking off the conversation with Riya, I asked how do you approach diversity and inclusion within your teams. As a winner of PRmoment's 3030 for 2023, Riya is a young leader and co-founder of Zeno's tech team two years ago.

From Left to Right: Anushweta, Paarul and Riya

She agrees with Ketan saying, "Gen Z, unlike the generation that came into the workforce 10 years ago, can be extremely vocal about the fact they do not like something. The designation doesn't play an important role for them. If they find that, "If you have tried to make me feel like I'm not good enough, I'm going to raise that on the right platforms. And I think that's a good thing. It also helps us as leaders think twice before we tell them something, and it's not about not giving feedback or not criticising, but it's about constructive criticism.

At this point, I asked if we wanted something to eat, but the cappuccino was strong and the breeze cool, so we carried over coffee refills.

Moving on with the conversation, I asked Anushweta, Zeno's senior HR manager about what the firm is doing to be more to include India beyond Tier 1 cities with their 'Zinterland' programme.

Anushweta says," A lot of times, organisations discount the fact that talent can come from anywhere in the country, and not necessarily from tier-one cities. So what we thought was at Zeno, our mission statement says that diversity, equity and inclusion are very much ingrained in our culture. 

 So what we do is we reach out to the top three, or four universities in different cities and we offer them internship opportunities with us for a minimum of three months. We also consider them for a full-time opportunity depending on how they are performing during their particular internship.

"Now, what we've noticed is that students from tier-2 and tier-3 cities come with the right intent. They are extremely passionate and driven about what they want to do, they want to make a difference, and they want to make an impact."

We have already been chatting for an hour. As we all need to get on with our work day, the final set of questions are posed.

I ask what they think about the PR industry's high attrition rates and what it takes to make sure talent stays.

Riya answers, "One observation that I've made about the under 30 workforce, which is, I think, quite starkly different from the workforce we joined 10 years ago was that a designation is nothing. As a young leader, it's not just my team that needs to prove themselves to me, I need to prove myself to them to every single day, am I bringing value to them?

The thought process that a lot of senior leaders in the industry have is that if I have 20 years experience I know everything. That experience does count for a lot. But I believe that you also need to be open to learning because the Gen Z is an extremely smart generation. They are bold. They are they are knowledgeable. They are digital natives. So they're always learning something or the other.  

Secondly,  I know each of my team member personally, as much as I know them professionally. 

I know what triggers whom I know that even if there are two executives at the same designation, the first one might have the capacity to take in more feedback. The second one instead of getting motivated is going to get demotivated if I give too much of feedback. 

And last, but not the least, is that engage with them, You know, a lot of times because Friday, generally you're wrapping up work, and you're you're getting into a zone when you like, yes, there's weekend. There are times when Ketan and myself, we will just tell the team, you know what, these are the five important things, close it off by four and log off. Take an early break, go, you know, ride a cycle, go bungee jumping, just sleep, watch Netflix, do whatever you want to, but log off early today/

For Anushweta, predicting what PR will be like in 2024, technology and digital will be the frontrunners,"If you're talking about Gen Z, they're all about, you know, which company has the coolest digital technological advancements? Right? And certainly, there will be a mindset shift when it comes to wellness."

With that we close and wind up, the bill comes to Rs. 1620 for the coffees and two parting brandy cherry cookies for the young Zeno team. The requisite pics are taken inside in view of the live kitchen and it's goodbye.

The drinks and food was paid for by PRmoment India . If you would like to be featured in Coffee with PRmoment India drop us a tweet @PRmomentIndia 

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