Roma Balwani | Influence 100
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Roma Balwani 

Director Comms & Brand 
Vedanta 
India

 

 

Roma Balwani has carved out a reputation as one of India’s most outspoken PR professionals, both inside and outside her company. And Balwani has brought those qualities toe the fore at Vedanta Resources, the mining group that has attracted more reputation scrutiny than most. Balwani, who reports to CEO Tom Albanese, sits on Vedanta's executive committee, with the sustainability, CSR and communications functions all reporting into her. 

Balwani’s commitment has seen her reframe crisis communcations as “compassionate communications” during India’s crippling Covid-19 lockdown, focusing in particular on employees, the community and migrant workers.
Prior to joining Vedanta, Balwani spent six years as Mahindra's communications and CSR head.

Can you share a moment in your career when you saw PR's direct impact on business performance?During the Covid-19 crisis, the agility on communications both internal and external, as we pressed the reset button for communications, leveraged new technology and innovation, moved from crisis to compassionate communications on measures taken, resulted in harmony within communities, employees and local governments. As OneVedanta, we were all in it together. Being in the natural resources sector and in the essential services category, resulted in managing robust business continuity and stable performance during the pandemic despite the challenges.

What are the comms industry's biggest challenges and opportunities in the year ahead?
Opportunities come as challenges. The coming years will see a new world emerge, stronger and resilient where technology will play a significant role in creating a virtual connected world. Innovative communication tools will be key to move from the fear of social distancing to a social intimacy of a different kind where technology will be an enabler for businesses of the future.

What have you most admired about this industry in 2020?
The ability to pivot like a dolphin and the agility to adapt to the new normal. Communications has been key to create and manage societal change, bring in renewed hope, be convinced first and then convince all to see a better tomorrow amid the doom and gloom.

What has most disappointed you about this industry in 2020?
Not being able to bring in significant social change that can impact society and equip people to manage their lives better.

How have you switched off from work and maintained wellness in lockdown?
Work seems to have taken a new shape and form. Maintaining wellness is critical and now a way of life to survive and also to be able to take a step back, to imagine and work towards a future which will provide more for mental health & well-being.

Which book/movie/TV show/podcast/playlist/other cultural source has helped you get through this year or provided inspiration?
Going back to basics, rediscovering simple activities with family, watching old classics. Rekindling conversations is a form of meditation that keeps me going.

If I wasn't working in marketing/communications, I would be...
The pandemic has made me realise that how fragile we are. Human resources would be my next calling.

Sum up 2020 in one word.
CtrlAltDelete or Alive.