After recently being promoted to the new role of CEO at Havas PR Australia, Simone Gupta revealed what she considers to be the worst example of public relations, and how she’d fix it.
As an experienced communications professional, Simone Gupta has either led, headed, or sat on the boards of some of the United Kingdom and Australia’s leading PR, social and marketing agencies.
She’s also an active proponent in the gender equality discussion. As well as hosting industry panels on women in senior creative and management roles, Gupta was the founding deputy chair of PR industry body the PR Council of Australia, the founding chairperson of girls’ rights charity One Woman at a Time, and is an experienced leadership coach.
Recently, Gupta took the time to answer a few questions about herself and her industry, revealing who she admires, her biggest mistakes, and what she considers the best and worst use of PR that she’s encountered.
She also revealed why she would be in Africa, contributing to the valuable work of One Woman at a Time, if she weren’t working in our industry.
There’s that and more in this quickfire Q+A with one of PR’s leading professionals, Simone Gupta.
Simone, what advice would you give your younger self?
- To thine own self be true—Shakespeare knew what he was talking about.
- Follow the green lights (Matthew McConaughey has taken this one from me).
- Don’t try and solve the world’s problems in one day, life happens one day at a time.
What were your biggest mistakes and what would you do differently?
I feel fortunate that I don’t look back and see mistakes; I usually see stepping-stones to where I land. And it changes. I sometimes wonder if I’d have set up my own agency where I would be now.
Who do you admire most in the industry?
Michelle Hutton is my number one inspiration for bossing PR agency leadership with determination and empathy. Also Chris Brown, my old boss at DDB, and who is now CMO at Maccas.
Chris is a quick thinker and incredible problem solver. He gave me the confidence to bring my authentic self to leadership. Both, Michelle and Chris, like to have a giggle along the way. Maintaining a sense of humour is important.
Simone, what’s the worst example of public relations that you can think of, and why?
The Crown—The Real Crown. A hierarchy of dysfunctional comms teams supporting senior royals, embedded in a toxic relationship with UK media owners and editors, all working on conflicting agendas.
How would you put out that fire, as a PR professional?
And, on the flip side, can you think of the best instance you’ve ever seen?
Alan Joyce, Andrew McGinnes and the Qantas team. How Joyce has communicated with employees, the media and government over the past 12 months is world class.
If you weren’t working in our industry, where would you be?
Leadership coaching and working with inspiring leaders who are doing meaningful work.
I recently started a love affair with Africa, through work I did with One Woman at a Time, an NGO that helps pay for girls to go to school and university in Kenya.
The girls have escaped child marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM).
There has been a significant increase of child marriage and cases of FGM due to schools closing for to COVID-19, and the girls play a role in the village economy—the girls are married off in exchange for a dowry of livestock.
I would like to go back and continue working with the community leaders and teachers who are doing incredible work.
What particularly blows your mind about your industry?
The impact of technology. We’ve moved from faxing press releases and manually scouring through publications for coverage to launching multiple campaigns a week (sometimes a day) and holding virtual media events.
What’s a hidden talent of yours?
Qualified yoga teacher—not teaching these days, but our incredible head of people Thierry Lalchere convinced me to host a weekly Zoom yoga class for the Havas Village during lockdown. Stretching and breathing matters.
What has been your greatest source of pride during your journey?
That the industry and I have evolved together to the point that I can manage a senior role and parent, with the help of an incredibly supportive husband and the Havas Village team.
Is there something—perhaps a quality—that has helped you succeed?
Clear communication and empathy.
The 30 Under 30 Awards will be held at The Factory Theatre, Sydney on Thursday, 15 April.
If you’d like more information on the event, head to this website.
Other key information
- People’s Choice Poll launches Wednesday, 3 March 2021
- Judging period: Wednesday, 3 March to Friday, 19 March 2021
- Shortlist announced Wednesday, 24 March 2021
- Early bird tickets close at 11.59pm Wednesday, 2 April 2021
- Full price tickets on sale at 12am Thursday, 3rd April 2021 (until sold out)
- People’s Choice Poll closes Friday, 26 March 2021.
Thank you to our incredible sponsors for making this event possible.
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