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Hello Health Editor Nikita Bhalla On The Power Of Seizing Every New Opportunity

Tanya SharmaTanya Sharma  |  May 6, 2021
Hello Health Editor Nikita Bhalla On The Power Of Seizing Every New Opportunity

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While most of us were figuring out our life and career in college, Nikita Bhalla was working on scripts, drafting letters, and hustling on a television set. She had chanced upon an opportunity to assist a TV producer on a lifestyle show while she was pursuing her bachelors at the Asian School Of Media Studies. Determined to make it work, she juggled between her classes in the first half of the day and worked as a trainee producer during the second half. Impressed with her talent, dedication and sheer hard work, the organisation offered her a full-time job before she even finished her degree. She was all of 19. 

That was the beginning of Nikita’s career, and 11 years later, she is the APAC Regional Head, Branded Content & Editor-in-Chief (India) at Hello Health Group and undoubtedly a power player in India’s media landscape. Through the years, she’s led several editorial teams at some of the most prestigious media brands across India. And if there’s one thing you take away from her success, it should be her ability to embrace every opportunity life throws her way, and give it her all.

Nikita truly believes in the power of putting yourself out there and dedicating your energy to whatever comes next. Even if it scares you at first. Recalling a time when she was offered a new role she had no prior experience in, she says, “A CEO of mine had hand-picked me to launch a brand new product for one of the largest media publishers in the country, that too without any prior experience of having done that… I was elated and a tad bit anxious.” Nikita took on the role with open arms (and an open mind) and unsurprisingly, did a fabulous job, all in six months! “I now strongly believe that thinking beyond the usual can get you places and that’s exactly what I had put myself out there for,” she says.

After our email conversation, Nikita’s infectious energy left me feeling inspired and motivated to work harder towards my goals. I can only imagine how lucky her team must feel to work with a leader who is a trailblazer in her own right. We couldn’t wait to feature her on our POPxo Power Women List. In a candid interview, she gives us a peek into her WFH life, her mantra for success, and how she likes to relax. Lightly edited excerpts below:

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

My day usually starts at about 8 am (all thanks to the pandemic fatigue).  I’m working till way past midnight, so early mornings are just not my cuppa! (pun not intended 😉 ).

I start off by hugging or calling (if I’m living afar) my folks and then begin my day by guzzling on some warm water and herb concoction followed by the morning scrum with my team. I get into my regular meetings as early as 8.30 am as I work with people sitting across different time zones. Once on my desk, I jot down the day’s tasks in my diary (I love to write things down despite being in the digital business as it gives me space to think and plan better) which then I religiously tick off by the end of each mini-task’s completion.

A typical day is 80% work with two mini-breaks of 20 mins each to grab a bite and by 7:30 pm, I’m out and about for a run in the park or to prep up for a dance sesh. The last meal of the day is coupled with a rather long and peaceful family time for about an hour and then I’m back at work to carry out either a review of sorts or responding to work emails, checking team reports and preplanning for the next day. I retire by either reading some features online or ‘flixing for a while! All of this gets me to 3 am (easily!) and before I know, it’s time to catch up on some zzz!

How did you land your first job?

I hadn’t finished university when I chanced upon the opportunity (via a known family friend) to assist a TV Producer on a lifestyle show. To my advantage, my office was at a stone’s throw away and I could manage to attend my classes in the first half while working as a trainee producer in the latter part of the day. It so happened that the organisation was quite impressed with my writing and offered me a full-time job before I even earned a degree…or a 19-year old, it was exhilarating!

What was a turning point in your career?

When a CEO of mine hand-picked me to launch a brand new product (for one of the largest media publishers in the country), that too without any prior experience of having done that… I was elated and might I add, a tad bit anxious! This not only meant leading the content strategy but it was about laying out an entire 5-year business roadmap. I have to admit that it made me learn and add so much to my repository of digital media knowledge. In fact, it’d be safe to say that during the process of familiarising myself with the unknown, I did a fab job at it…in all of 6 months! Today, the site proudly stands as one of the most prominent online bi-lingual brands in the women consumer-info space! With this record under my belt, I now strongly believe that thinking beyond the usual can get you places and that’s exactly what I had put myself out there for.

What’s a mantra you swear by in your professional and personal life?

Both my personal and professional lives are based on some core fundamentals from a very young age, which instilled in me the desire to learn from my mistakes, dream big, express gratitude and understand the value of money. Owing to this, I live and work with an unfathomable streak of hard work, hope and ambition. At the same time, I try to not let success get to my head or failure to my heart.

What are the key skills or qualities that helped you succeed?

Devotion, the ability to pause, reflect, laugh, forgive and look forward, meticulousness, a sky-rocketing willpower (guess it comes from my dad), receptivity and gumption—lots of it!

What would you consider your biggest professional accomplishment so far?

I’m yet to single out one such accomplishment but for the sake of brevity—when I turned around a sinking website into a full-blown knockout…like a phoenix of sorts. It not only won awards and accolades within the digital media industry but also brought about the winds of change—much needed for my then organisation!

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

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

I have 3 tips for newbies:

– Digital content creation is an amalgam of art and science—keep trying till you hit the magic formula!
– Never ever shy away from hard work but don’t forget to add a bit of spunk to it.
– From late nights to tight deadlines and ruthless managers; you’d have to go through it all! But ALWAYS remember that fretting won’t get you anywhere, your unwavering spirit most definitely would!

How do you relax?

Relaxation for me is all about travel, food and dance. As a proud epicurean and travel enthusiast, I feel that there’s nothing that beats the thrill of trying out new cuisines in a faraway land! It brings immense joy and peace to my very existence! If relishing desserts at a classic patisserie-viennoiserie visit is the best way to let my hair down; a chill, try-it-all street food outing would come a close second. Both of these read RELAXATION to me in caps! As for dance, it’s just therapeutic…makes me forget everything nasty and negative!

Can you tell us the three books that changed your life?

I’ve read and absorbed quite a lot from the many books that I’ve read till date but nothing that I can call “life-altering”. However, some impactful work that has stuck with me includes The Interpretation of Dreams by Sigmund Freud​, The Secret by​ Rhonda Byrne, ​and Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.