EXCLUSIVE | Kavita Lakhani, Lintas Live: Nothing lasts forever – thankfully! [Year-Ender 2020]

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Kavita Lakhani, Executive Director, Lintas Live, MullenLowe Lintas Group, is a highly respected communications professional with more than 25 years of experience in Public Relations and Digital Marketing.

Kavita also serves as National President – PR and Digital Marketing Council, Women’s Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Kavita has been a profit centre-head at Lintas since 2003. Since then, Lintas’ PR business has more than quadrupled in size and retained a significant double-digit margin. Recruiting and career-development for the firm’s greatest asset, its talent, are among Kavita’s chief responsibilities.

Her expertise in brand-building, message development, public education, crisis management and public affairs using social/traditional media, make her a sought-after senior counselor. She is also a crisis trainer and risk management specialist who helps corporates prepare for and manage crises.

Prior to her current organization Lintas India, Kavita has worked at Ogilvy PR and Weber Shandwick. Her brand experience includes Philips, Britannia-Danone, Kodak, Cadbury’s, World Gold Council, McDonald’s, Unilever (Domex), Emirates Airline, Starbucks, Marriott, Wartsila, Sony, Visit Victoria, Etihad Airways, Principal Financial Services, Siemens, Porsche, Lamborghini and Sun Pharma, among others.

In this exclusive piece for MediaBrief.com, Kavita reflects on the year that was from a personal and professional perspective. She shares how, from a seemingly perfect start, 2020 soon took a terrible U-turn “no one was prepared” for, about how people adjusted to this new reality of life, and about the working and the learnings at home and from 2020, that will stay with her across 2021 and lifelong. One of which, she says, is ‘making sure every moment counts as a -priority’. Read on.

Aha 2020…I loved the way it was written. It seemed so perfect. There was a feeling of excitement and anticipation when last year started. Then COVID struck. We were near dismissive at the beginning. The general trend of thought was that majority of the Indian population anyways lives in unhygienic conditions in highly polluted cities. So what’s COVID? Just a virus. It will fly past. In fact, it won’t be able to survive our hot summer.

Little did anyone or I imagine what was coming up. The lockdown concept was so alien for Indians that the Modi government had to surreptitiously introduce it for a single day, Sun 22 Mar and then extend it, catching all by surprise. Neither companies, governments, police, nor the general public – absolutely NO ONE was prepared in any sense.

I stay with my parents who are senior citizens. The first few weeks went into managing the protocol for them. No maids or guests to be allowed into our home. Likewise no stepping out for a walk in the park. No touching any external bags or packets. Sanitizer to be used, and not to be kept as a show piece. Masks to be worn on face covering nose and mouth, and not to be worn on the chin to fool the cops. Also, use of hands and kerchiefs were a complete no-no! No hugs and handshakes, even though mum resisted saying ‘but she stays in our building and she’s my friend’. It took me forever to explain, Coronavirus likes everyone, including our friends!

To compound the COVID mayhem, millions of employees around the world were asked to work from home. Suddenly, all of us discovered Zoom and Microsoft Teams. In the comfort of our own homes, from couches, recliners, beds and kitchen tables, we started firing up video meetings, virtual conferences, online music- yoga classes to replace the meetings that could not happen in-person. But the reality of video conferencing was a mix of confusing software, subpar hardware, and the awkwardness of still- developing social norms. For people thrust into the work-from-home life for the first time, learning how to act on video communication platforms was as much of a struggle, as figuring out how to dial-in.

COVID cleared our social calendars, emptied venues, and shuttered national economies. Like an unending horror story, it just kept causing deaths and economic devastation. Over time, most of us settled down into this hard new way of living. Let me share 5 interesting life lessons that I have learnt and experienced in the last few months.

We can work, and be productive, at home. Remote work isn’t a privilege or a special accommodation. It’s a way of working. It is good and it’s here to stay. The most important thing is to have dedicated office space where you can close the door and have set office hours. I did the opposite and allowed work to swallow my home life for a while…stupid mistake!: Kavita Lakhani

First, making sure every moment counts is a life priority. Recognizing how important the smallest of things are to us – a salon visit, dinner with family at a restaurant, window-shopping at the mall, playing cricket – I vowed never to take the simple pleasures of life for granted again.

Second, we can work, and be productive, at home. Remote work isn’t a privilege or a special accommodation. It’s a way of working. It is good and it’s here to stay. The most important thing is to have dedicated office space where you can close the door and have set office hours. I did the opposite and allowed work to swallow my home life for a while…stupid mistake!

Third, we are all in this together. To successfully work with other people, you have to trust each other. A big part of this is trusting people to get their work done wherever they are, without supervision.

Fourth, we can do more than we think, and surprisingly with less. If you count all your assets, you always show a profit. However, agility, people centricity, smart innovation and technology are must-haves for organizational resilience.

We can do more than we think, and surprisingly with less. If you count all your assets, you always show a profit. However, agility, people centricity, smart innovation and technology are must-haves for organizational resilience: Kavita Lakhani

Lastly, do things right, not just the right things. Doing the right things means planning a desired outcome for each action or initiative. Doing things right means to stretch and do your best and leave the results to turn out the way they will.

We are still not out of COVID and have no clue what the future holds. Nonetheless these learnings are precious and will stay with me in 2021 and lifelong!

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