Authenticity is the key!' to Effective Leadership - (Article)

May 19, 2020

'Authenticity is the key!' to Effective Leadership

We caught up with Namrata Sarmah to discuss her career as a woman in tech and her role, in particular, at ViacomCBS.

Tell us a bit about yourself?

My name is Namrata Sarmah, and I work as a Senior Director of Product Management at ViacomCBS in London. I have been working in Product & Tech for the last 12 years and have had the opportunity to work in multiple sectors like IT, FMCG, Telecom, Healthcare, Media Production, Beauty & Broadcast. I have worked in both large companies and start-ups in all these years. My speciality lies in building consumer-facing products.

I live in North London with my husband and our 2-year-old son.

As a woman in tech, what are you most excited about in the technology world? 

When I started my journey in Product Management, there were very few women in this field, and rare in leadership positions. That was one of the main reasons why I decided to be active within the Product & Tech community here, so that our voices can be heard, and we have good representation. I did lots of mentoring too, and still do for budding product professionals. It’s really fulfilling!

Fast forward to 2020, I can definitely see more women in product roles, and several in product leadership roles too. It’s great to see such progress, though it’s still not fully gender-balanced.

I strongly believe that to build a successful consumer-facing product, a diverse team is required to represent diverse user personas. And by diversity, I don’t mean just gender; it is much broader than that.

I am excited that the world of tech is changing, and we have become more inclusive than what we were a decade ago. Let’s hope in the next few years we continue to see more women in tech and all STEM fields in general.

What is the best part of working for ViacomCBS? 

Definitely the culture! I have never worked in a company with such a strong focus on empathy, collaboration, and inclusion. It’s a fun and vibrant environment and can be felt in any of our offices around the world. Also, I am very proud of our brands as they are the best in what they do.

What are your thoughts on how Gen Z will change the workforce?

I am a millennial by definition. Gen Z is the generation after us, i.e. people born between 1997-2012. This generation is now entering the workforce. Most internship and graduate schemes are now fulfilled by Gen Z professionals. It’s not just a different generation, they have different ethos and values too.

Research says that Gen Z are motivated by different things in the workplace compared to millennials and Gen X. This means that workplaces need to adapt to this new generation of professionals if they want to keep them motivated and feel valued.

Gen Z are digital natives. They are independent, self-confident and entrepreneurial. They want their ideas to be heard and considered, in spite of the lack of experience. This generation values diversity and inclusion the most and believes in a borderless world.

I think Gen Z is really interesting and can add tremendous value to the workplace, along with their millennial managers. I hope organisations are able to adapt to this new generation of workforce and capitalise on their potential.

What would you say is the biggest challenge facing leaders today?

The biggest challenge is adaptability. Technology is disrupting so many sectors, and it is here to stay. Leaders need to understand this changing landscape and be able to change their leadership styles and priorities as per the changing business environment. The world of work is changing too – there are new ways of working and new generation entering the workforce. Leaders need to be able to stay relevant and motivate all sections of the workforce. Authenticity is the key!

What is your number one tip for being an effective leader? 

Be empathetic! It goes a long way.

Finally, who is your female tech inspiration and why?

Sheryl Sandberg is my hero! Not only because of her illustrious work in the technology world, but for all her community and philanthropy work too. She is a well-rounded individual, and I have tremendous respect and admiration for her.


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