In conversation: Apoorva Bapna and T. Gangadhar
Culture and diversity as forces for growth
To coincide with International Women’s Day, WPP brings together 16 brilliant women and men from across its global network, in eight conversations about the industry, equality and the impact of our work on wider society.
WPP’s newly appointed Chief Culture Officer in India, Apoorva Bapna, and T. Gangadhar, President, Growth & Strategy, APAC at Essence, discuss the transformative power of cultural diversity and the importance of sustainable business growth.
T. Gangadhar: As the recently appointed Chief Culture Officer for WPP in India, I’m interested to hear about your approach to building and inspiring company culture.
Apoorva Bapna: Talent and culture are the two biggest pillars that I work on at WPP, and as an organisation they are big focus areas for us moving forward. WPP is what it is because of the people within it, and it is imperative that our focus is on investing in the right kind of people. At the same time, building a strong culture that people identify with – from the leadership team to those just coming into the organisation – is also hugely important.
And when I say diversity, I just don't mean restricted to gender. It’s a diversity of thinking, ideas and different backgrounds. Diversity of perspective opens up a world of possibilities
TG: Culture and talent is such a crucial part of what Essence does. It’s a company where both the “what” and the “how” are very important. The culture here is based upon what we call “doing” and “being” behaviours. It’s about delivering the tangible outcomes expected of you and your role – which is important – but equally important is how one goes about achieving those outcomes, with more of a focus on communication, respect and collaboration. And these are not nice-to-have behaviours, they are the baseline expectations from every member of Essence.
AB: You mention that Essence puts a focus on communication and collaboration to deliver tangible outcomes. As President of Growth & Strategy what, in your opinion, are the key ingredients needed for growth? How important is fostering a culture for driving growth?
TG: I think there needs to be a hunger for growth from every team member when they turn up to work each day. Curiosity for learning is essential. I really believe in this as a hiring philosophy and as a training culture, and that is what we follow for the most part.
There needs to be a hunger for growth from every team member when they turn up to work each day. Curiosity for learning is essential. I really believe in this as a hiring philosophy and as a training culture
AB: When thinking about business impact, one thing I think is absolutely critical for the organisation's growth is diversity. McKinsey’s Diversity Matters report stated that “companies in the top quartile of racial/ethnic diversity were 35% more likely to have financial returns above their national industry median”1. This demonstrates the point that sustained success of an organisation benefits from how diverse and inclusive it is. And when I say diversity, I just don't mean restricted to gender. It’s a diversity of thinking, ideas and different backgrounds. Diversity of perspective opens up a world of possibilities.
Another point which I think it is critical when we look at growth is sustainability. By sustainability, I mean how do you remain profitable but also be responsible to communities, our people, to the larger organisation, society, and to our partners and clients? These are things that determine growth in times of change.
TG: You spoke of values; and I think that's very critical – it’s not growth at any cost.
International Women's Day is important because...
TG: … it's an extra opportunity to shine the light on gender equality issues and celebrate the achievements of women. With each passing year, hopefully, it brings us one step closer to ending gender inequality.
AB: … it's a day to actively challenge stereotypes, fight the biases that exist, broaden our perceptions, and also a chance to celebrate women's achievements.
Read more from our #EachforEqual in conversation series