Pragnya Ram | Influence 100

Pragnya Ram

Group Executive President, Corporate Communications & CSR
Aditya Birla Group
India, Asia-Pacific


Pragnya Ram oversees corporate communications for $40bn Indian conglomerate Aditya Birla Group, which now derives more than 60% of its revenues outside of its home market. Reporting directly to group chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla, Ram is tasked with a broad portfolio that includes stakeholder management, communications strategy, media relations and, importantly, leadership of the company’s CSR function, which includes numerous industry-leading community development initiatives, including 46 schools and 18 hospitals. 

Those efforts have helped the group top Nielsen’s Corporate Image Monitor for three consecutive years. In 2014, she was honoured with the Chairman’s “Special Award for creating Aditya Birla Scholarships, a vibrant sub brand under the Aditya Birla Group brand”. And Birla also sits on the board and CSR committees of several other companies, including Utkal Alumina, Hindalco, Grasim, UltraTech, Idea, Aditya Birla Capital and Essel Mining, along with serving on several CSR committees for influential Indian trade associations.
Prior to joining Birla in 1997, Ram spent a decade heading communications at Hindustan Ciba-Geigy.

Can you share a moment in your career when you saw PR's direct impact on business performance?
The direct impact is evident in our group's continuously being the No.1 on the Nielsen Corporate Image Monitor. Our chairman has gone on record saying that communications has been a major contributor to the group's image and in turn led to preference for the group's products, of course customer centricity and A+ product quality are at its base.

What do you love about this industry?
The people factor, and the opportunity to be on the learning curve constantly.

What most frustrates you about this industry?
Unprofessional behavior in some quarter; apple polishing and exercising influence unethically through bribing and other modes.

What are the communications industry's biggest challenges and opportunities?
To stay contemporary, to have a handle on changing technologies, the social and digital media and fake news while keeping your cool.

How do you relax or change pace when you're not at work?
Reading, watching movies and classical music. Holidaying with our children and grand-daughter.

Can you share a book/movie/TV show/podcast that teaches a valuable lesson about PR?
“Sweet Tooth” and “Storytizing”.

If I wasn't working in marketing/communications, I would be...
A designer, a professor, even a Michelin Masterchef.