In 2020, Vanaja took a step back from a P&L role after over 20 years to see what she can do to catalyse the sure, but slow movement towards gender parity. This led to the creation and execution of the Phyllis India Project at the DDB Mudra Group - 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. The program got recognised by Campaign India as the best Women Leadership Program, and Vanaja won the Mentor of the Year Award as the driving force behind the initiative.
Bringing her passion for diversity, and two decades of experience in business together, Vanaja will now be focused on growing a diverse and inclusive workplace, spanning talent acquisition, retention, training and outreach to talent in underrepresented communities.
Prior to this, she headed the Bengaluru business of 22feet Tribal WW where she was responsible for managing and growing the team’s impressive client roster, and led the unit successfully through a particularly difficult transition in 2019.
Vanaja (previously Executive Vice-President, OgilvyOne - Bengaluru) comes with experience in business management and marketing communications; with a large part of it focused on setting up practices across different functions including design & creative delivery, public relations, business communications, advertising and digital marketing. She has also worked with a range of startups across the education and technology sectors, and enjoys converting ideas into strong businesses.
Vanaja’s deep empathy with women’s struggles and the drive needed to push the envelope on gender equality is reflected in her collection of short stories, Omana, published in 2021.