PR Pundit’s Luxury Director Gauri Kohli On Leading By Example & The Value Of Empathy

PR Pundit’s Luxury Director Gauri Kohli On Leading By Example & The Value Of Empathy

There are some people who enter a room and immediately command it. The reason could be their unmatched style, their personality or the warmth in their demeanour. In the case of Gauri Kohli, Partner & Luxury Director, PR Pundit, the reasons are all of the above. A mom of two and a “juggler who loves dynamic days'', Gauri is a pro at multitasking. In spite of a hectic work schedule, you will never see her without a smile. Her jam-packed days now include virtual events and back-to-back meetings, but when we speak, she is gracious, patient and full of insights on building a career. 

“To inspire and be inspired is a continuous work in progress,” she says while discussing the important traits one should have to become a successful professional. There is a lot of inspiration one can take from her brilliant career. As the Luxury Director at PR Pundit, the two-decade-old public relations consultancy that is also one of the frontrunners in the industry, she manages a bevvy of impressive names. Think names like Dior Beauty, M.A.C, Clinique, La Prairie and Christian Louboutin. Her impressive portfolio at the award-winning agency doesn’t end here. A trailblazer in her own right, she achieved the massive feat of first introducing stalwarts like Bobbi Brown, Estée Lauder and Jo Malone London to the beauty landscape in India. 

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Having spent over 16 years at PR Pundit, managing top luxury brands, Gauri Kohli’s enviable career has insights for anyone hoping to make it big in Public Relations. Naturally, we couldn’t miss out on interviewing her for our #POPxoWomenWhoWin series. From discussing the profession at length to what it means to lead by example, Gauri delved into her incredible career in a candid conversation. Below, edited excerpts from an interview. 

How do you begin your day? What’s a typical day like for you?

I begin my day with browsing through Instagram and catching up on the news while sipping my haldi and lemon water, organising the day ahead at home. I try and do some yoga in the morning, followed by breakfast, shower and then jump right into work! These days, it begins with multiple teams calls over Zoom and then more phone calls. Mondays are usually dedicated to planning and stock-taking with other team leaders followed with communication with my own team. How the rest of the day pans out depends on the time of the year where there is a mix of virtual events to be anchored, new products or campaigns to be launched or brainstorming to be done for a new collection or business pitch. The ‘new normal’ is even more dynamic and no two days are the same. I end my workday by going for a walk or simply spending time lounging with my family and then catching up on some Netflix at night.

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How did you land your first job?

I always wanted to be in Public Relations and so post my graduation, I did a short course in marketing communications. While I was interning at Ogilvy PR in New Delhi, a friend of mine was working at IPAN and she told me about a job opening. I applied immediately and landed my first job!

What, according to you, are your biggest professional accomplishments so far?

It would have to be spearheading the luxury and beauty practice and building a formidable reputation for PR Pundit. Another would be being a committed mentor who motivates employees to give their best while leading creative expression and benchmarking industry campaigns.

What was a turning point in your career?

Joining PR Pundit where I started the luxury practice for the firm.

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What would you say are the key skills that have really helped you succeed in your career?

Empathy, according to me, is one of the most essential ‘soft skills’ which can be invaluable in your leadership toolkit. I always try to relate and empathise with my team members and I strongly feel that without empathy, one cannot be connected and engaged effectively. Whether it’s our personal relationships or as a part of an organisation, we are more likely to stay beside a leader when we feel like we are heard, appreciated, and cared about. Also, a leader must be inspirational and lead by example. If you chase excellence and always endeavour to do better as a leader, with your actions, you will be able to motivate and inspire people. The ability to communicate and rub off your passion and vision on others helps establish the inspirational culture of your brand. I continue to learn from my mentor as well; to inspire and be inspired is a continuous work in progress!

Is there a mantra that you swear by in your professional and personal life?

Do what you love, listen to your instincts, arm yourself with intelligence on what you are dealing with and strike a balance.

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Any advice for those who are looking to break into the industry?

Be confident. Own your strengths and know your weaknesses but don’t let them pull you down. Instead, work on them consciously. Work independently but when you come together at a workplace, be a team player and a force to reckon with for others. It is also crucial to network, collaborate and find the right connections. Today, PR is evolving as clever marketing where disruption and innovations rule. With the advent of this enhanced integrated approach, clients today are more demanding and expect a 360 degree approach at all times. So it’s important to work on being in tune with the current trends and arm yourself with industry-specific intel. Accordingly, one can pivot as a strategic thinker of consumer outreach and enable growth.

Given your busy schedule, how do you like to unwind after a long day?

A night out or these days, more like a night in with family and close friends, playing with my kids or listening to them play the guitar are my ideal ways to relax. In the pre-COVID days, a salon or spa visit would also be on top of the list but currently, I have discovered that having a long shower while listening to music can be quite relaxing. 

A lot of people also credit books for changing their lives. Are there any that have had an impact in your life?

Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson, What I Know For Sure by Oprah Winfrey and Ikigai by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles.

What are the three things we’ll always find in your makeup bag, no matter what?

Sunscreen, Mac Mehr and Too Faced Better than Sex mascara!

Featured Image Courtesy: Gauri Kohli