ES. What were the key career experiences that really shaped the way you are now as a leader?
Pallavi Mehra. There’s been some learning at every step of my career journey spanning over the last two decades. My first job at the airport working for United Airlines taught me how to be a resourceful individual in a challenging environment through customer service, working odd hours, handling unforeseen situations, keeping and maintain calm and most importantly, working as a team. Along the way, I have been fortunate to work with quite a few industry stalwarts and leaders who have corrected me, encourage me and inspired me, teaching me how to be fearless and resourceful, observant and learner, problem solver, deliver results and impacts and so much more.
ES. What have been some of the major milestones in your career? If you were able to share any of them with us, which ones would they be?
Pallavi Mehra. The outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic and the consequent lockdowns and shutdowns, disruptions, mayhem and the logistical constraints everywhere where unprecedented. So was the total shutdown of economic activities globally. Never before did the world witness the total shutdowns of factories, industrial sectors, transports of every means. There was extraordinary confusion surrounding the resumption of businesses.
Be an agent of change. The problems never solve on their own. Overcoming that hesitation and giving a restart to physical events and face to face meetings in early 2021 was so much bigger than what meets the eye. We were the first to do that paved the way to the resumptions of exhibitions and events, not only in the country but also globally. In March 2021, we executed buyer-seller meets for our Jewelry portfolio clients where we used the hotel rooms as exhibit area. We invited select buyers from the cities where these meets were conducted. This was followed by SATTE 2021 that was widely hailed as the first international standard travel expo to take place anywhere in the world. The show gave industry, stakeholders and businesses, trade, confidence to open to travel and tourism.
The show galvanized the industry like never before, playing the role of catalyst in helping the industry overcome the pandemic induced challenges and garnering support from private sector stakeholders, industry bodies to Government of India. Almost all Indian states participated in the edition. Despite the absence of scheduled air travel, international destinations that could come, came. The footfall during the event days were overwhelming.
ES. What are the benefits of having a more diverse workforce, especially in senior management positions?
Pallavi Mehra. There is a crying need to have more female in leadership positions in order to not only bridge the gender-equality gap but also to enhance efficiency and productivity across industries. Studies have underlined that companies with female leadership at the top have performed better overall. It’s an established fact that women Head of States have tackled the pandemic situation better than their male counterparts. The general perception now is that women leaders are pragmatic and decisive with a clear vision.
ES. Would you like to share your thoughts on the “Women in Leadership” initiative organized by IEIA?
Pallavi Mehra. Although there have been discussions for greater gender equality at workplace and in society, women are still lagging far behind in representation, particularly in leadership positions. Organisations have a responsibility for creating better policies and opportunities for women. IEIA, as the apex body for Exhibition Industry in India, understands the impact of greater gender equality and women’s empowerment would also. At the same, women also needs to come forward and overcome the challenges coming between her and career growth.
Pls share your thoughts on the appointment by IEIA as the Chair of the Focus Group on Women In Leadership
I am happy to convey my gratitude to IEIA leadership for giving me the opportunity to Chair the FOCUS GROUP on Women In Leadership for female professionals associated with the exhibitions and conference sectors in India. I am delighted to share that Ms. Himani Gulati, Director, Mex Exhibitions is the Co-chair. Our group members comprise of dynamic women leaders who have worked their ways through various challenges but have kept clear on their objectives.
The purpose of our group is to work towards the mission of empowering women in the exhibitions industry and also help nurture the next generation of female leaders. We have three-point mission or focus – Attract, Educate and Empower. We shall be preparing inclusive programs and would request support from all IEIA members to encourage their women colleagues to be part of our forthcoming activities and educational programmes.
ES. What is the best part of your job?
Pallavi Mehra. Mine is a very service intensive industry. Therefore, there is tremendous amount of client interactions. So meeting and interacting with people, listening to their inputs and solving problems, if any, are the best part of my job and keeps me going. And I have a great team at Informa Markets in India to back me up.
ES. What is one of the hardest challenges that you’ve come up against and what did it teach you?
Pallavi Mehra. The havoc that Covid-19 pandemic created was extraordinary and unprecedented. It tested us as individual, as colleagues, as industry stakeholders, as leaders, and in so many more ways. Our decision to bring exhibitions and events back to venues in the midst of a raging pandemic was the hardest thing. But so was the industry response. It was equally unexpected and overwhelming. Cliched as it may sound, but it taught us in spirit and not just in letter, ‘When the going gets tough, the tough gets gets going.’ We, at Informa Markets in India, proved to be one hell of a team that gave the events and exhibition industry, across the globe, confidence to get back to physical shows sooner than later.
ES. On another note, we would like to know about your hobbies, what keeps you busy when you are away from work?
Pallavi Mehra. Mt ‘me time’ is very important to me. It helps me rejuvenate and recharge. I also love to pamper myself once in a while, bury in a good fiction and spend time with friends over a nice meal or coffee.
ES. What one piece of advice would you give any aspiring female business leaders reading this?
Pallavi Mehra. Have confidence in yourself. Don’t hesitate to seek help when in need. And most importantly, don’t get drowned in failures, be the springboard and bounce back.