At the virtual event to launch IMPACT’s 50 Most Influential Women list, 2020, Kalli Purie, Vice Chairperson, India Today Group, was invited to speak right after being declared the topper of the list. Here is what she had to say: “This is my seventh year on IMPACT’s 50 Most Influential Women List and I have finally received the topper award! Sam (Balsara), I know how much you put into this award, and the entire team at IMPACT too.
Putting something like this together during the COVID-19 crisis and having 50 of us join in one event and at one place is just amazing. So many of the people have watched this gathering of inspiring people and inspiring stories from diverse workplaces. This is one of the best IMPACT awards, not just because I’m winning, but because all of us are together in one space.
In a way, the virtual medium has brought us together to do that. So, thank you very much. It means a lot to me.”
Calling out to the other achievers on the list, she said, “I’d like to tell all the women who are on this list today, so many of you are just outstanding and a very big ‘Yes, you all deserve this and you deserve more’.
Very often in our lives, women have a sense of doubt because they don’t necessarily have somebody to nurture them, to celebrate them, to cherish them, because they play that role in most families, and in most social constructs. So, I ask women today to ask for it, demand it, when they feel they need it. I’m guilty of it as well.
I don’t very often demand my share of attention - when I do something great, I ask for that celebration from my family. Women have to find it inside to believe in themselves, to motivate themselves, to energize themselves, and I’m going to use the buzzword ‘self-partner’ which everyone is using these days. They have to be their own guru and the wind beneath their wings, in a way.”
Purie lauded the award function as being held at a very apt time, because she felt COVID-19 has accelerated many trends that are either rising or going down. “One of those trends is women’s leadership.
This time of crisis has required different kinds of leadership, which has empathy, collaboration and which makes decision by instinct. Corona has led us to be in a space where we have no information. We are in a black hole of unknowns. You have to take decisions by instinct and collaborate, because it has affected every aspect of your life.
It affects the well-being of your colleagues, their families and children and so you have to lead by empathy. So, empathy, collaboration, instinct. That’s why all the Corona-affected countries led by women have done better than those led by their male counterparts. I want to tell all the women out there; our time is here, it really is and we need to capture it with both our hands.”
ON WORKING WITH HER FATHER AROON PURIE
It’s been 21 years for me in the Group and 25 years in total. I have had a lot of time to get used to working with him and fill in those shoes. Having said that, I have an enviable collection of shoes and so I never wanted to fit into one shoe! It is great to work with him because we have a very strict official relationship at work.
He is AP at work, and that doesn’t go home. Similarly, what is at home, doesn’t come to work. It has to be strictly compartmentalized and we decided that very early on while working together. This has helped us continue to work together.
As a boss, he demands a very high level of perfection, but is also very fair and gives a very free range to explore ideas and give an alternative point of view. Over the years, he has built a correctness and a proprietary stance in the history of the organization. Of course there is love for journalism, which is so deeply embedded that it doesn’t let you stray from the main path. So, as a lighthouse, our path is always very well lit. We have clarity of where we are going.
THREE THINGS LEARNT FROM HER FATHER
Attention to detail, getting in there and really having your finger in the pie and lastly, always doing things that sit right. Just do the right thing, and in the long run that always pays off.
ON RAM JANMABHOOMI COVERAGE
Cases like Ram Janmabhoomi Bhoomi Pujan are the moments that a news room lives for. It’s a huge event, it’s history, it’s a spectacle. There was so much excitement in the news room today. I will discuss two special aspects from the Ram Janmabhoomi which is relevant to this particular forum.
One was the comments made by RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat on how far ahead they thought of this temple and worked towards this road for 20 to 30 years. When they set the goal, they knew it could take them 20 to 30 years, but that did not deter them. They set a very long term vision and as a leader, that is very hard to do.
The learning is, even if you are setting a time capsule goal for 30 years, you can do it. The second heartwarming thing for me to see is the Prime Minister’s take on Jai Shree Ram. He didn’t say ‘Jai Shree Ram’, he said ‘Jai Siya Ram’. It was a significant acknowledgement of the feminine, which I thought was very nice.
ON NEWS TELEVISION IN TODAY’S CONTEXT
I was there when India Today turned fortnightly to weekly. That was my sort of entry into the group, and I was an intern doing creative advertising for them. The journey for Television is just like a roller-coaster. I came from the Print background and spent my time in Digital for more than 20 years.
Television now is nothing like the Television of then. In the early days, the Chairman would sit and look at every word that was said by every anchor, because Aaj Tak started off only as a 30-minute bulletin, and then turned into a 24x7 channel. I can’t control that now, because you have the entire digital system and social media. It’s an addiction that you can get used to, but it is that feeling of sitting on a ticking time bomb.
ON HER PERSONAL BUCKET LIST
What would I be doing in 10 years? I’d love to say I’ll be sitting on a beach in the middle of nowhere. But, if I know me, I know I’ll be right in the news pit, somewhere breaking some historic event that is happening.
I just love that. It’s a buzz that you get addicted to. When you’re in that mood of breaking news in a news room, nothing beats that high. I have the bug, so I’m going to be right here in the news pit telling stories on many more platforms with many more tools.