Interview: Shweta Powar, Founder and CEO, Aria Communication

Shweta Powar

Interview with Interview: Shweta Powar, Founder and CEO, Aria Communication

‘Work harder than you think you did yesterday’, this quote very appropriately, sums up Shweta Powar’s ceaseless journey in the industry. With this as her philosophy, she has achieved a million milestones at a very young age.

Having over 15 years of rich understanding in media and advertising, Shweta established her own PR Agency – Aria Communication in the year 2008 and since then, there has been no looking back.

The company has grown from a mere single account to a wide range of clients under its belt. She has achieved a successful journey by servicing several brands from various segments till now and has always been committed to establishing Aria Communication as a value-driven organization.

Her core areas of expertise lie in the domains of Real Estate, Technology, Healthcare, Education, Corporate, Bollywood and Lifestyle PR. 

She has a vast experience of working from listed companies to start-ups in India across varied media verticals and is well-versed in various areas like media planning, strategy, execution of media campaigns and the overall brand building exercise.

She believes in doing beyond the obvious and pushes all the conventional boundaries by infusing innovative and engaging ways to build the client’s brands.

She has flawlessly entrenched qualities of integrity, diligence and punctuality in all aspects of the business while maintaining a keen focus on corporate growth. Her focus lies in boosting the client’s market visibility through her vast media connect.

Apart from reigning the wonderful Aria clan, she is the one who is tough when things are easy and goes easy when things are tough. She cracks the whip with her unlimited patience, heaps of tolerance and a contagious attitude.

With an equivalent quota of insight and youthfulness, she rules the agency like no one else. Qualitative deliverables, meeting up deadlines, staunch media relations have been strong pillars of the Agency’s growth that has played a significant role in the success.

Her modesty and passion are examples for everyone at Aria and lie at the foundation of all growth made by the company.

Can you tell us about your background and how it led you to start Aria Communication?

Shweta Powar: Having come from a humble middle-class background, I completed my graduation and postgrads in mass communication while working in the aviation industry.

While in the aviation industry for nearly two to three years I realized my appetite was not full and I always aimed for doing something differently, starting something that I was passionate about and that was something that led me to start Aria Communication.

Aria is a complete brand communication and PR agency catering to real estate, health care, lifestyle wellness, and celebrity PR.  

What were the ups and downs of Shweta’s journey as a women entrepreneur?

Shweta Powar: Initially, when I started the business, it was not a piece of cake. There were more downs than ups in the first three to four years. Coming from a humble background I realized the importance of investments and made sure my profit margin was strong from day one.

People do not take young women entrepreneurs seriously. They feel it’s difficult for women to juggle business and they pass it off as a hot-blooded folly.

This motivated me to build a success story for myself in the years to come. When the success of our agency was apparent, we started getting more organic inquiries and total business development as well.

I could conquer so much negativity also because of my supportive husband who always ensured I never give up even in the toughest phases. It wasn’t easy in the nascent years and yet I always ensured that the business made a profit but to keep that profit rolling I had to constantly be out in the market and meet people talking about the business. 

How do you juggle the roles of being a mother, wife, and businesswoman?

Shweta Powar: It’s always been a difficult path because as you are growing, you have many hats to don. Your business is the first baby that you have nurtured, then comes your child, and then the role of being someone’s wife.

But women are born multitaskers and that helps me a lot. Other than that, I am extremely disciplined and I’ve always ensured that I maintain good time management.

In fact, in 2006 when I had started the business, my daughter was diagnosed with type-1 juvenile diabetes at the age of 2.

That incident made me question my priorities. I wasn’t sure if I should continue focusing on the growth of my business or leave everything and just look after my daughter who needed to be injected 4 times a day.

Eventually, I decided that I will need to face both challenges together. I ensured that as a mother I’m available for my daughter whenever she needed me while working towards my goals.  

What challenges did you face when you entered the PR field at a young age? How did you deal with judgments related to your age?

Shweta Powar: If you do not have a strong, wealthy business backing it is extremely difficult to convince people. Young age is not seen as an advantage but a liability.

People feel only someone with experience can lead a business. I aimed to break this myth and prove that if one has the dedication, discipline, and the right objectives in mind one can overcome the toughest challenges.

I kept polishing my skills in particular arenas so that I could exude confidence in my pitches can create strategies that complement the business objectives and become a win-win situation for all my clients. 

For the first three to five years, I decided that I’m not going to go for quantity I’m going to work on quality even if it means signing 10 clients in the first five years.

Quality and success is your biggest advertiser. I overcame the mentality that only experiences clicks. If you have the right expertise and the right skills you can conquer the world.

One incident that stays with me forever is a comment that I don’t have grey hair, which means I lack the experience and the knowledge to run my company.

I was surprised at the mindset of people and I promised myself that this is exactly the kind of glass ceiling I wish to break.

In the initial phase, I lost a lot of business to other agencies purely because I was too young for the clients to take me seriously. And today when I am in my 40s and I do have grey hair, I am proud of it and I feel like I’ve earned it. 

What are Shweta’s thoughts on leading from outside the spotlight, particularly in the context of public relations being a leadership role?

Shweta Powar: For a leader, it is important to have a minute understanding of every team member. Their expertise or their shortcomings, have to be noted and used to the best advantage.

When you are leading a business, you should also remember that the performance of all the employees will not be at par, so learn to balance the excellent and the mediocre and get the best out of everyone.

Leadership means working with the whole team towards a common dream. I have ensured that my leadership role leads to building teams and creating dream teams that every client would desire to have in-house. 

What do you believe sets Aria Communication apart from other PR firms?

Shweta Powar: As mentioned earlier we are more focused on quality over quantity even after completing 16 years of business since inception.

After 20 years of experience in the field of PR, I like maintaining time management, and dedication and ensuring that if we eat, drink, and sleep the client we understand their business requirements as if we were their in-house team. So, these have been our core values and ethos over the years. 

How do you approach building and maintaining relationships with clients?

Shweta Powar: Approaching, building, and maintaining relationships with the client is based on trust, value, and the confidence that they have developed in our work.

I always ensure that we deliver the best of the best to the clients. Holistic, personalized ideas and executions and timely deliveries are our core values. The clients have appreciated these about the agency and we are truly grateful and proud. 

Aria Communication has a focus on technology and healthcare clients. Can you speak to the unique challenges and opportunities in working with these industries?

Shweta Powar: As an agency, we focus on many aspects such as real estate, healthcare, wellness, lifestyle, sports, and celebrities.

I think each vertical has its own set of challenges and opportunities as well. We are very opportunistic and we feel that the right positioning in the market would work for any client so we understand the client thoroughly.

Accordingly, we build PR strategies and ensure that we create the exact blend of modern and traditional media so that it becomes a successful campaign whatever the nature of the client’s business.  

As a woman founder and CEO in a male-dominated industry, have you faced any specific challenges and how have you navigated them?

Shweta Powar: India has always had largely male-dominated businesses. Even during my growing years, I strongly felt about women’s empowerment.

I have never worried about the industry being male-dominated. Whenever I have thought about myself in the industry, I believe that I am the best.

Women across industries need to believe that they are second to no one and being financially independent should be their top priority.

You are the best version of yourself when you are not dependent on others. So, I ensure that I perform to the best of my capability and if and when I am compared to anyone I emerge at the top position. It’s always good to be a silent performer and let your work speak for itself.  

How do you prioritize and manage your time as a busy CEO, while also ensuring your team is supported and successful?

Shweta Powar: Time management has always been the most important aspect of my life. My day starts early so I can balance it out nicely.

PR is believed to be the second most stressful job in the whole world, which makes it imperative to maintain mental peace.

Exercising and meditating are a routine before I start the work day, also I love listening to music it’s a big stress buster.

I like to maintain discipline in my work-life schedule even at the office I encourage working within the 9-6 schedule so that all members of my team can focus on their family lives as well. Daily disciplinary activities can impact your life positively.  

Can you speak to any exciting developments or plans for the future of Aria Communication?

Shweta Powar: The exciting development and plans at Aria for the future include a new vertical which is sports.

And very soon we would be engaging in the business of sports talent acquisition too. Our business expansion also includes spreading our wings in the Middle East and European markets. 

How do you see the PR industry evolving in the next 5-10 years, and how is Aria Communication adapting to these changes?

Shweta Powar: The industry has changed drastically in the last 20 years from the time when I started. Technology was basic and back then PR was focused on traditional media.

Post-COVID era, PR has changed considerably and it’s becoming more interesting and more challenging.

PR today has become the blend of traditional and modern-age media. An apt positioning and being at the right place at the right time is what the industry demands currently.

If you know your product and the brand well, fitting that as per the strategies becomes an easy process. Covid taught us all a lot and we at Aria adapted to the changing demands of the PR industry during the covid era. 

What advice do you have for women who are interested in starting their businesses, particularly in the PR or communications industry?

Shweta Powar: Starting one’s own business is always challenging, it’s not a piece of cake for anyone. Women should never give up and fight till the end goal.

Women have it in them to achieve whatever they put their minds to and perseverance delivers success. For anyone trying to make it into the communication or PR industry, it is important to understand that this industry is changing rapidly and it is important that you are equipped with knowledge of trends in the Indian as well as global market.

If you are knowledge-driven, can manage time well, and understand the client’s requirements it is easier to make a place in this industry.

What are your suggestions for managing work-life balance, building certainty in chaos, and leading a team amidst corporate chaos?

Shweta Powar: My suggestion will be to meditate, meditate and meditate! PR is one crazy business and a lot of us struggle with mental health.

We need to take care of our mental wellbeing. PR means to make or break news spontaneously and instantly. It is a challenging and chaotic industry where every minute and every second matters. 

Hence, it’s important to unwind, stay calm, and composed, and maintain that work-life balance. Meditation can help you cruise through the toughest of battles. 

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