For this segment of Women in Marketing we had a chat with Jaspreet Kaur who is the Head of Marketing at Sodexo. As the world of work adjusts itself ‘post’ the COVID era, Jaspreet shares how best companies can support staff, particularly women in combating against burnout.
LET’S GET PERSONAL
THANK YOU FOR TAKING THE TIME TO PARTICIPATE IN OUR WOMEN IN MARKETING SERIES, JASPREET. WHERE WERE YOU BORN? WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR MEMORIES GROWING UP?
I was born in Singapore. Some of my favourite memories growing up revolve around the amazing food. In Singapore, you can walk to any “coffee shop” to get freshly cooked food for a couple of dollars or fried puffs and little sweets for a couple of cents!
My passion for food was realised very early.
WHAT WERE YOU LIKE IN YOUR HIGH SCHOOL/COLLEGE YEARS?
I was a complete nerd. I would have classes, side projects and internships and spend my entire day trying to figure out some new theory.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE MEAL? THAT ONE MEAL YOU WOULD FEEL NO SHAME FOR NOT SHARING!
Oh, this is a tough one!
Singapore Laksa with a ton of sambal (chilli spice paste) – any day! If you haven’t tried it, you need to get yourself some right now.
IMAGINE WAKING UP $10 MILLION RICHER TOMORROW, WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH YOUR FORTUNE?
Invest! Invest! Invest! I’d start a VC investing in sustainable food tech startups.
WHAT IS THE ONE INTERESTING THING ABOUT YOU THAT WE WOULDN’T FIND ON YOUR LINKEDIN PROFILE? ANY HIDDEN TALENTS PERHAPS? PREVIOUS WOMEN IN MARKETING CANDIDATE, ANASTASIA HAMEL SAYS THAT SHE CAN BREATHE FIRE!
Oh, how I wish I could breathe fire! 😀
Let’s see – you’d never believe this but I’m a trained Soprano and was part of musicals and a rock band when I was in school/college!
CAREER AND WORKPLACE
WHAT ENCOURAGED YOU TO PURSUE A CAREER IN MARKETING? AFTER ALL, MOST OF US GREW UP WANTING TO BE DOCTORS, RIGHT?
OMG, that is so true! My father always wanted me to be a doctor. My journey has been a little unique. I studied trade finance and business, yet my career path took me through product management, advertising, strategy and business development.
Eventually, I found my way to B2B marketing and strategy and I never looked back. Today, I am very lucky to have the opportunity to Head Marketing, Comms, Sustainability and Innovation for Sodexo MYSG.
GIVE US A SNEAK PEEK AT HOW YOU TYPICALLY START YOUR DAY. ARE YOU #TEAMCOFFEE OR #TEAMTEA? OR BOTH? YOU BEAUTIFUL REBEL!
#TeamCoffee! I’m a stickler for planning and strategising my day. My calendar usually has the first 30 mins blocked out for prioritising beasts to slay and checking in with my teams.
THE PANDEMIC DISRUPTED OUR ROUTINES AND DAILY COMFORTS. HOW BEST DO YOU MAINTAIN A WORK-LIFE BALANCE?
Honestly, I’ve struggled quite a bit with maintaining a work-life balance – especially when working from home. But I’ve found that a few simple habits help: Separate work and play.
I try not to work from my bed or couch. I block time in my calendar for meals or working out. Activate “do not disturb” past a particular time. As leaders, we lead by example – candid conversations with our teams on mental health and balancing work and life.
YOU HAVE A MBA IN INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS FROM THE INDIAN INSTITUTE OF FOREIGN TRADE. TERTIARY EDUCATION, AS WE KNOW IT, TOOK A DRAMATIC TURN DUE TO THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC. HOW DO YOU FORESEE THE FUTURE OF EDUCATION CONSIDERING THE INCREASING POPULARITY OF ONLINE EDUCATIONAL SITES SUCH AS COURSERA AND GOOGLE SKILLSHOP THAT HAVE DISRUPTED THE TRADITIONAL MODEL OF LEARNING?
Online sites are great resources and supplements. I think it’s a great way to keep yourself relevant and up-to-date. Personally, most of my learning opportunities were outside of the classroom – interactions with peers, alumni and professors and the experiences and synergies.
Information is accessible due to the proliferation of internet access. The future of education would be a fine balance between the convenience of studying from anywhere the network/peer-to-peer learning you can derive from the education program.
WORKING FROM HOME/HYBRID MODEL OF WORKING MAY SOON BECOME A REALITY FOR MOST ORGANISATIONS GLOBALLY. WHAT’S YOUR TAKE ON REMOTE WORK AND WHAT HAVE BEEN SOME OF YOUR CHALLENGES AS WELL AS WAYS YOU’VE MITIGATED THESE?
To WFH or not to WFH – That is the question!
I have very mixed views. As much as I love the freedom of working from home or a client site, virtual meetings tend to be very tactical and lack the human touch.
Some ways of keeping the human touch that we’ve adopted as a team – are check-ins where we talk about anything under the sun (except work), the use of gifs and emoticons, and virtual celebrations of the little wins.
Whenever possible (and safe), the team comes into the office and have a meal together. Or we’d allocate this to key f2f meetings. Oh, and an actual rule where barring an emergency, there is a “cut off” time in the evening for texts and WhatsApp.
ACCORDING TO A REPORT COMPILED BY MCKINSEY, THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC HAS HAD A NEGATIVE EFFECT ON WOMEN IN THE WORKPLACE. THE REPORT FURTHER ILLUSTRATES THAT WOMEN HAVE INCREASINGLY BECOME MORE EXHAUSTED AND SUFFER FROM BURNOUT AS COMPARED TO THEIR MALE COUNTERPARTS. IN YOUR OPINION, HOW CAN ORGANISATIONS PROVIDE THE NECESSARY SUPPORT FOR WOMEN AS WELL AS MOTHERS?
I love this question. I’m happy to share that I work for a company that has a stellar culture that fosters such support and inclusivity. In my opinion, organisations can support women (and men) through education, communication and flexibility and I’m blessed to say that my boss, Abel Ariza, leads with action in this front.
1. Education – Equip your managers and leaders to look for signs of burnout or exhaustion. Educate them to embody compassion and wisdom when speaking with their teams, many of whom may have personal challenges during this time.
2. Communication – Foster open communication where employees can voice concerns and struggles. Some organisations have set up mental health helplines or communication lines with HR teams for employees who might have difficulty voicing out to their managers and peers.
3. Flexibility – Empower your employees to take control of their own time and work around their home commitments, especially when it is children and parents.
2022 AND BEYOND
ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, HOW HAVE YOU BEEN SINCE THE START OF THE PANDEMIC? ANY PIVOTAL MOMENTS IN YOUR PERSONAL OR PROFESSIONAL LIFE YOU CAN SHARE WITH US?
All things considered, I was very blessed to be living at home in Singapore with my parents during the pandemic. The pandemic has given me a renewed respect for my family support system and the luxury to spend time with my parents and siblings through these tough two years.
KNOWING WHAT YOU KNOW TODAY AND IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME, WHAT WOULD YOU TELL YOUR YOUNGER SELF?
Go take that risk! Make as many mistakes as you can to learn from them when you’re young. You have the rest of your life to learn and be careful.
ANY BUCKET LIST ITEMS?
My bucket list is very long but to share a few highlights: Personal bucket list items include learning Turkish and Italian as well as seeing the Northern Lights.
A professional bucket list item would be to work with the United Nations!
WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR SHEROES?
Growing up, my biggest shero was Indra Nooyi. As the CEO of PepsiCo, she embodied the resilience, empathy, courage and strength of a fantastic leader. However, she would also prioritise her family, her child and herself. There was an interview I once read where Indra Nooyi would pause a meeting to pick up a call from her daughter because the business and her family were both a priority.
She is everything I want to emulate in my career and as a leader. Throughout my career, I’ve had the amazing opportunity to have worked with and been inspired by some amazing women. To list a few – Jessica Beaton, Vasundhra Nasa, Kartikey Tewari, Bhawna Gandhi, Judy Pang and so many more.
WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?
It is difficult to find time to read in our busy lives. We have a monthly book club aptly named, “Read between the Wines”. Presently, I’m reading “Algorithms to live by – the computer science of human decisions.”
It is such a fascinating read on using algorithms to untangle the questions and paradigms we face as humans. Strongly recommend!
WHAT IS ON YOUR NETFLIX WATCHLIST?
My watchlist is a mix of thriller/horror and YA romcoms! I recently saw the trailer for a Belgian Netflix Original “Into the night”. Definitely on my watchlist!
WHAT WOULD YOU COME BACK AS IN THE NEXT LIFETIME CAREER-WISE? DO YOU THINK YOU MISSED A CALLING?
Oh this is an interesting question!
I think my one missed calling would be around food! Perhaps in the next life or post-retirement, I could start my pop-up restaurant! Who knows!
WE ABSOLUTELY LOVE HOW FORBES CURATES THEIR MARKETING-CENTRIC CONTENT. HAVE YOU HAD A CHANCE TO READ THROUGH THEIR CMO NEXT 2021 FEATURE? WHILST ON THE TOPIC OF GREAT MARKETERS, WHEN YOU RETIRE ONE DAY, HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE REMEMBERED AS A PROFESSIONAL?
I would love to be remembered as a “human-centric” marketing professional who places the human touch at the very centre of the brand.
WHO HAVEN’T YOU SEEN OR TALKED TO IN A LONG TIME AND HOPE THEY ARE DOING OKAY?
I’ve used the pandemic as an opportunity to keep in touch with loved ones and friends across the world. Thankfully, everyone is doing well! 😀
A UNIQUE MESSAGE FOR ALL YOUNG PROFESSIONALS IN THE MARKETING INDUSTRY
Just ask. Ask for guidance, ask for feedback, ask for mentorship, ask for that project, ask for that promotion. Too many young professionals are too afraid to communicate and ask for direction or the next step. Most would rather quit than have that conversation. Communicating opens doors for growth.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME JASPREET. WE HOPE THIS INTERVIEW WILL INSPIRE FUTURE LEADERS AND OTHER WOMEN IN MARKETING. HOW CAN PEOPLE FOLLOW YOU AND YOUR COMPANY ON SOCIAL MEDIA?
Thank you so very much for this opportunity!
My socials are below: