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DDB Mudra Group elevates Vanaja Pillai to Head of Diversity, Inclusion and Impact

Vanaja will also lead the creation and delivery of effective growth and development opportunities rooted in the company’s purpose and growth strategy.

DDB Mudra Group has announced the elevation of Vanaja Pillai, the driving force behind the Phyllis India Project, to now the company’s Head of Diversity, Inclusion and Impact, underscoring the company’s commitment to embedding Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in its people and business strategy. Phyllis India Project is one of the industry’s most comprehensive and intense leadership development programs with consistent and deep interventions, to help prepare DDB’s women talent for leadership.

In her expanded role, Vanaja will work closely with Aditya Kanthy (CEO & MD) and Rita Verma (Head HR) on initiatives to grow a diverse and inclusive workplace, including talent acquisition, retention, training and outreach to talent in underrepresented communities. Vanaja will also lead the creation and delivery of effective growth and development opportunities rooted in the company’s purpose and growth strategy.

Aditya Kanthy, CEO & MD, DDB Mudra Group added, “If we don’t change, we’re done. To compete in our times, we need to take a critical view of every aspect of our business. Our approach to talent and culture included. There is much to do in this area, and Vanaja is just the right person to lead us to success. Besides being a stellar leader, having run operating roles in the agency business with flair and distinction, Vanaja has over the last two years built one of the industry’s best run diversity programs – the Phyllis India Project. This work with the Group’s effort as a global network to bring in diverse voices to help shape workplace culture and brand communication of the future.”

Speaking on her deeper role, Vanaja Pillai says, “It has been an exhilarating journey, from the intent of creating an India chapter for the Phyllis Project, to having the first batch graduate last week. The bar has been set high for every challenge we pick up from hereon. Over the next year we will focus on a select set of DEI goals and approach them with the same rigour and passion that made the Phyllis India Project what it is today. From an overall talent perspective, the pandemic made us even more aware of the need for constantly focusing on people and their growth. We hope to make some of our talent programs world-class this year.”

On the appointment Nikki Lamba, chief diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer, DDB Worldwide said, “Vanaja’s work on the Phyllis India program has been applauded across DDB’s borders and is a brilliant example of senior leadership driving actionable change in advancing DEI within the DDB family. We are excited about her taking on this larger mandate and bringing DEI to the heart of our business, people and product strategies in India. There is a lot of good work happening already in parts of the DDB network that India will surely build off and gain from.”

An accomplished writer, Vanaja’s deep empathy of women’s struggles and the drive needed to push the envelope on gender equality at the workplace is reflected in her collection of short stories, Omana.

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