The new age leaders or leadership is not about the “years of experience” that a person carries, but the key leadership skills. To Pooja Bali, age is just a number, does not define how good a leader one can be. She says, “Leadership among younger generations like the millennials or gen z is about creativity, self-confidence, values, being humble and having an incremental mindset and the one who wants to bring change and make an impact paving the way for generation alpha.”
Pooja Bali, founder and CEO at Venuscast, is a serial entrepreneur and a seasoned branding & marketing expert guiding brands and start-ups to build and scale successful business model across industries in UAE, India, GCC & Africa regions.
Below are highlights of the interview conducted between World’s Leaders and Pooja Bali:
Brief our audience about your journey as a women leader. What challenges you had to face to reach where you are today?
My journey as a leader started at the age of 6 when I entered my school and was introduced to this term called “class leader” or “class president”. This term called “leader” fascinated the younger me to an extent that I wanted to be that every year. At my school in Baldwin Girls High School, Bangalore there were class elections held every academic year which was a democratic way of choosing a leader, nominated and who secured the highest votes among a class strength of 60+ students. This election day is something that I looked forward to every academic year as it was a KPI for me to introspect and reflect if I am still a people friendly person who can lead. Luckily, I managed that throughout my schooling and every year I developed and learned how to be a better & humble person. I did manage to develop leadership skills throughout my education.
But when I started working people often questioned me of my younger age and experience rather than the skills & the intent that I brought to the corporate teams. In my early years of career, any valid suggestion/recommendation in team meetings were being shot down or criticized because of my gender, age and experience which was quite unreasonable. But I took in a positive spirit to keep learning and bettering myself. I challenged the social norm by showcasing my skills/knowledge and valid reasoning rather than fighting it, I embraced it and saw an opportunity to learn and adapt. This is what gives me the courage to pursue my dreams with the entrepreneurial spirit.
Describe VenusCast’s offerings that address the need of your customers.
Venuscast offers creative, branding, marketing, and customer experience management solutions with an integrated approach to small and medium businesses. Our mission is to empower brands translating their vision, strategy towards sustainable growth, facilitating quality business outcomes for their end clients. This approach has helped us to grow year-on-year along with our customer base. As strategic brand partner, we grow along with clients. I enjoy leading the passionate team aligned with our mission & culture. Venuscast was founded in 2020 in UAE, expanded to India in 2021 and now currently serves customers across the world.
Enlighten us on how you have made an impact in this industry through your expertise in the industry?
As a serial entrepreneur and a seasoned branding & marketing expert guiding brands and start-ups to build and scale successful business model across industries in UAE, India, GCC & Africa regions. Currently transitioning into a finance & investment strategist role with focus on sustainability (DEI, ESG & SDGs) through impact investing by working with businesses from venture capital & private equity, financial services, investment management and management consulting industries. I lead solutions focussed on lead generation, funding, enabling businesses to scale, alongside successful M&As.
What people, what books, what life factors have influenced and impacted you?
All the people who have crossed path in my life have made an impact to find better self every day. I have been inspired by strong women at home, some of my peers in the industry and successful women leaders and the impact they have made in this world. They inspire me to believe in myself, dream big, focus on impactful goals to create better world for future, work with passion to achieve those goals (success) and hopefully inspire future generations.
Where do you envision yourself to be in the long run and what are your future goals?
Manifesting has brought the little me, to where I am now. I still owe and pledge to do a lot more as I am only getting started and be that change in the world. Hence last 24 months of my life, I invested in my education & learning from the best to be better equipped to reach my dream faster. I invested in pursuing Global Executive MBA with specialization in Finance along with Venture Capital/Private Equity (VC/PE) program from Columbia Business School. I am also passionate about disruptive technology and hence investing in developing my skills in fintech, blockchain, cryptocurrency, artificial intelligence, machine learning and sustainability – building sustainable brands & products. With these skills, plan to pivot into VC/PE space in 2022.
Women entrepreneurs, founders, executives in the finance industry face a lot of bias, more so from women of certain ethnicities. I intent to be an impact investor to practice DEIB (diversity, equity, inclusion & belonging) invest in sustainable businesses aligned with ESG/UN’s SDG goals. My career aspiration is to invest and take high performing entrepreneurs & mission driven companies to the public market and unlock growth potential. I envision myself to be a part of the team to ring the bell with an historic IPO at NYSE/NASDAQ. Through this, contribute to innovation, socioeconomic development & economic wealth creation for society at large.
What would be your advice to budding Women Leaders?
My advice to budding women leaders would be to believe in themselves and have faith in a better tomorrow by giving the best today. Women leaders need to be fearless, empathetic and brave. Their passion should drive them forward and we need to support and uplift fellow women leaders. Also, invest in learning and upskilling to be future ready for the future of work.
The only way we as women leaders will stand out and compete is with the knowledge and education.