With over forty years in the communications function, Dr. Pragnya Ram is one of the most respected names in the Indian communications industry. During her tenure, she has watched the communications function evolve from a small niche team to becoming an essential part of every organization.
Speaking at the recently concluded 7th Annual Corporate Communications – New Age Communications, organized by Marcus Evans and held at the Suryaa Hotel New Delhi, Dr. Ram, the Group Executive President, Corporate Communications and CSR of the Aditya Birla Group, detailed her own experiences with the Aditya Birla Group while detailing how the communications function has grown in India – and how it continues to evolve with an emphasis on responsibility and intergrity.
The Evolution of a Function
While recounting her early experiences in the company, Dr. Ram pointed to how the general perception of communications was. During the early phase of her career, the management team only understood “the brand as advertising” – any function beyond placing commercials on TV, radio, and print seemed irrelevant to them. However, over her forty years in the field, the importance of communications as a function has become very widely accepted. This was undoubtedly a gradual process, but now Dr. Ram believes we have reached a stage where there is consensus that the “brand is the soul of the organization.” This belief informs how much organizations now care about communications – internal and external.
The Evolution of a Brand
Especially with regards to the Aditya Birla Group, an organization that has been marked by continuous growth and diversification, the importance of making the “corporate brand synonymous” was tantamount. While the Birla brand has ways enjoyed high resonance in India, the various organizations that shared the Birla name struggled to set themselves apart. After conducting a thorough brand evaluation, the communications team headed by Dr. Ram identified how “the name Aditya Birla stood for trust.” Almost overnight, the company adopted “Aditya Birla” as the brand – and this has undoubtedly contributed to the collective growth of the diverse companies under the Aditya Birla banner.
The Soul of the Brand
If, according to Dr. Ram, the “brand is the soul of the organization,” then it reasons that in the case of Aditya Birla, integrity is the soul of the brand. She highlighted the company’s focus on integrity as the “main value” – a central tenant that informs all communications activities. Under its current leadership, the Aditya Birla conglomerate has seen massive growth – from $2 billion to the $35 billion it is worth today. However, Dr. Ram was keen to emphasize that this has been achieved “the right way.” In addition to several corporate social responsibility projects across the country, the brand is also driven by a core set of ethics. The Aditya Birla Group were the first corporation in India to issue a code of conduct – a “values booklet” that aims to imbibe high ethical standards in all the employees.
As Dr. Ram put it:
“CSR is ingrained the Aditya Birla heritage. It is the enduring quality of the group.”
This outlook not only helps the Group’s external image, but was also identified by Dr. Ram as one of the biggest reasons why they are able to attract top talent. Integrity is woven into the Aditya Birla fabric and this adds “tremendous value in terms of an employee pull.”
Perhaps this solid foundation and emphasis on integrity is the reason why Idea Cellular was, as Dr. Ram put it, one of the only major telecom companies “untainted by the recent 2G scam.”