In recent years, women in leadership have shifted from traditional roles to commanding positions of influence, driving organizational success and innovation.

Studies show that companies with at least 30% of women in leadership outperform those without. However, progress remains slow; The World Economic Forum estimates it could take 131 years to close the gender gap globally. Disparities persist in leadership representation, wages, education, and health access. Despite facing barriers, women are reshaping the future with their resilience and determination.

In this blog, we will narrate the inspiring journeys of three heroes – Mansi Karmakar, Samyukta Ganesh Iyer, and Azmat Habibullah, as featured in the WebEngage podcast ‘The State of Retention Marketing’ series. Their stories, in their own words, not only highlight the evolution of women in leadership but also illustrate the parallel advancements in technology and data analytics. Additionally, we’ll sprinkle in some insights from rockstar leaders across the SEA region, giving you a taste of their take on women’s leadership and the exciting innovations happening in marketing. So, buckle up and get ready to be inspired by these incredible women!

Manasi Karmarkar, Head of Digital Marketing at TCNS Group

Meet Manasi Karmarkar, coming from a science background and passion for change, Manasi transitioned from pursuing a PhD in chemical biology to pioneering data-driven insights in the fashion retail industry. Embracing the digital marketing challenge, she spent seven transformative years in the Middle East, honing her skills and decoding consumer behavior.

Transitioning to Landmark India, Manasi delved into the intricacies of value fashion and discovered the nuances of catering to Indian consumers. Recognizing the importance of understanding consumer behavior, she ventured into the ethnic wear sector, emphasizing the value and brand preferences of female consumers. In her current role, Manasi leverages data insights to shape marketing strategies, championing the launch of new brands like “Elleven” to meet the evolving needs of women in India.

Reflecting on her journey, Manasi emphasizes the importance of understanding the human psyche in the fashion industry. She highlights the need for mindfulness and careful consideration in crafting brand experiences, especially when targeting a women-first audience. Manasi’s story serves as a testament to the transformative power of embracing diverse career paths, leveraging data insights, and championing innovation as a woman leader in the business world.

Mansi Karmarkar Qoute

Samyukta Ganesh Iyer, a former VP at Kaya Limited

Samyukta Ganesh Iyer is a renowned figure in the marketing world, known for her innovative approach and dedication to pushing the boundaries of brand innovation in the beauty industry. With an illustrious career highlighted by her achievements as a three-time Cannes Young Lion champ, Samyukta’s journey underscores her commitment to customer engagement and brand excellence.

Reflecting on her 16 years of experience, Samyukta emphasizes the paramount importance of placing the consumer at the heart of all strategies. She emphasizes the need for personalization in the beauty industry, where understanding and catering to individual customer needs are essential for success. Additionally, she highlights the evolving consumer personas over the years, stressing the importance of adapting marketing strategies to resonate with diverse customer segments in today’s dynamic market landscape.

Despite the challenges of being in a male-dominated industry, Samyukta’s leadership in navigating the digital age demonstrates her resilience and innovative thinking. Through candidly sharing her experiences of breaking stereotypes and driving change, she inspires others to pursue their ambitions in the face of adversity.

Samyukta Ganesh Iyer Qoute

Samyukta’s vision of a customer-centric market aligns with WebEngage’s approach, as they provide a full-stack marketing platform to ensure customer retention and brand loyalty through tailored campaigns delivered to behaviorally segmented audiences.

Azmat Habibullah, CMO, South Indian Bank

Azmat Habibullah’s journey from the world of fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) to the banking industry is nothing short of inspiring. With over two decades of experience, Azmat now serves as the Chief Marketing Officer at South Indian Bank. She’s a visionary leader, blending traditional banking values with cutting-edge marketing technology.

In a recent podcast, Azmat shared her insights on the importance of customer retention in banking. She introduced the concept of ERV – Existing Relationship Value, emphasizing how even small increases in retention rates can significantly boost profitability. Azmat’s deep understanding of data-driven strategies is shaping South Indian Bank into a digitally advanced institution while maintaining its legacy of trust.

Azmat’s mantra is simple yet powerful: “It’s not just about acquiring an account. It’s about being the primary banker for the customer.” Her leadership is transforming the banking landscape, ensuring customers receive personalized experiences that keep them loyal to the bank. Through initiatives like WebEngage’s data analytics and AI-powered marketing tools, Azmat and her peers are revolutionizing customer retention in the banking industry.

Discover how WebEngage’s analytics helps BFSI businesses track user journeys seamlessly across all funnel stages.

Azmat Habibullah Qoute

Voices of Women Leaders: Anecdotes and Insights on Leadership

Women voicing their opinions is a refreshing change in boardrooms across the world. Motivated by the compelling narratives of Mansi, Samyukta, and Azmat, we set out on a mission to delve deeper into women’s leadership. Our journey led us to engage with more women leaders from South East Asia (SEA) to discuss their strategies and insights for empowering women in leadership roles today.

Here’s some additional scoop straight from the horse’s mouth on the upsides of having more women leaders:

What unique qualities do women bring to leadership?

Adinda Fudia Hanamici, Founder, Meramu

“Inclusivity – Women in leadership roles often shine due to their inclusive nature and talent for building strong teams. They have a collaborative style that makes it easy to work together, solve problems, and make decisions as a unit. Also, studies show women are often better at empathizing, which means they’re great at fostering open communication and understanding within their teams. These qualities make for more cohesive and successful leadership overall”

Priscilla Wong, Co-Founder, Re:Crave

“Women in leadership roles often have a sort of ‘sixth sense’ towards different opportunities or conflicts thrown at us, and we manage risk assessment differently as compared to our other counterparts. We also often lead with compassion which may be seen as a weakness for some but I regard it as a strength.”

Sari S. CEO and Co-Founder, Reach

“The unique qualities that Female leaders have are the combination of female energy and masculine energy, meaning the Woman can sometimes be nurturing to her team if the team needs someone to support them when they seek guidance. And at the same time, they can be very disciple in managing their team to reach the aligned goals. Because business requires people to work, not robots, and people’s basic needs are to be understood, seen, and heard.”

Do we need more women in leadership positions? What’s your take?

Hasnur Hanafiah, CEO, Athena Empowers

“Increasing the number of women in leadership inspires younger women to pursue similar roles, challenging gender stereotypes. It’s not just about fairness; it also benefits businesses, societies, and economies.”

Stephanie Stadler, Co-Founder & CMO, Matida (Iterative S23)

“As a female startup founder, I strongly believe in the importance of having more women in leadership roles. Diversity fuels innovation, and women bring unique perspectives that are crucial for success. From my own journey, I’ve experienced firsthand the challenges and barriers that women face in entrepreneurship. By breaking through these barriers, I hope to inspire and empower other women to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams. Encouraging women in leadership isn’t just about fairness; it’s about driving innovation and ensuring business success in today’s competitive landscape.”

How does female leadership contribute to women’s empowerment and equality?

Hasnur Hanafiah, CEO, Athena Empowers

“Female leadership is crucial for empowering women and advancing equality. It challenges stereotypes, creates opportunities, promotes inclusivity, and ensures women’s representation in decision-making roles.”

Adinda Fudia Hanamici, Founder, Meramu

“Female leaders play a crucial role in empowering women and promoting equality by breaking barriers like gender discrimination and limited access to resources. Millions of girls face challenges like lack of education and forced marriage. Female leaders meanwhile challenge norms, advocate for change, and pave the way for future generation”

Sari S. CEO and Co-Founder, Reach

“I think women generally look up to other women. Hence, setting examples as Female Leaders to influence them is essential. I believe all women can do whatever they want to do in life. There is no limitation in this life, but their limiting belief makes them afraid, which is why being Female Leaders and consistently speaking up about Women’s empowerment is very important. In my case, I always talk about my story to other women and encourage them to reach their dreams on every occasion. In this way, they will put the faith, believe in their subconscious mind that they can achieve whatever they want in life, which makes no difference from the general men’s world.”

Any tips for aspiring women leaders?

Stephanie Stadler, Co-Founder & CMO of Matida (Iterative S23)

“For aspiring women leaders, here’s some advice: Make sure you have a strong support system around you. That means surrounding yourself with people who believe in you and lift you up. Seek out mentors who can give you guidance and share their experiences with you. And don’t be afraid to speak up for yourself. Make sure your accomplishments and ambitions are recognized and valued. It’s all about building a support network and advocating for yourself along the way.”

Priscilla Wong, Co-Founder, Re:Crave

“We often are less confident and are highly critical of ourselves, but we should always remember we are never less capable just because we might be more careful with decision-making.”

The Road Ahead for Women in Leadership Positions

In celebrating Women’s Day, let’s draw strength from the remarkable journeys of Mansi, Samyukta, and Azmat. Their stories exemplify the tenacity and skill of women in leadership. As we honor their achievements, let’s renew our commitment to fostering an environment that recognizes and supports women’s potential. May this Women’s Day inspire us to break barriers and build a world where every woman’s contribution is valued and acknowledged.

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