Mona Kwatra – Vice President, Corporate Communications, Diageo India, is clear about her fundamentals in life. She wants to keep exploring, even in simple things like learning a new skill or a new recipe.
Coming from a defence background, she has travelled the length and breadth of both India and Bharat. After completing her B.Sc. in microbiology, zoology & chemistry, she moved to humanities and did a Master’s in English literature and then subsequently completed her communications degree from the Xavier’s Institute of communications in Mumbai. “In essence, I am a Jill of many trades!” she quips. A friend suggested that she look at the alcobev sector as a ‘brand new’ canvas and a huge opportunity. “I agreed! Mona asserts. “So, after two decades in the banking and financial services sector, I decided to move from ‘Being a Customer’ to the ‘Know your Consumer’ side,” she says. Her parents raised a toast when they learned of her new job. Early in her career, she learned that necessity is the mother of invention. “If you can convince your team to necessarily reach for the stars, at the very least, they will certainly make it a mission to Mars,” Mona opines. In her present job, she oversees brand & communications for Diageo India. “It is about promotion, protection and being authentic in realising our vision of being the best performing, most trusted and a highly respected consumer products company,” she avers. Mona thinks Diageo, for her, has been both a teacher and guide rolled into one. “It’s win-win for both,” she says.
No More Men’s Domain
How often does she hear that liquor business is men’s domain? “Now far less than earlier,” Mona candidly replies. “Earlier it was, ‘roll your eyes,’ literally, and not that I really know what was being conveyed. It could be anything. But now it is a High Five,” she enthusiastically affirms. As for the obstacles she encountered along the way, Mona feels that learning and opportunity are directly proportional to the difficulties. “Just like any other FMCG category, there are challenges and drivers that are unique to this category, and it is important to make the effort to understand them. Besides that, it is business as usual,” she elaborates. On the qualities a woman needs to excel in this industry, Mona says: “Always be bold and fearless.” She is delighted to see more women in the industry. “We do constitute 50 percent of the population, and deserve our fair share of earning an income and being independent,” she states forthrightly.
Mona is upbeat about the growth opportunities in India’s alcobev industry. “India is among the world’s top economies; the consumers are getting more sophisticated and want to drink better. The size of the opportunity is growing in line with consumer needs,” she points out. What drives her is a passion to “keep exploring in whatever you do; even in simple things like learning a new skill or a new recipe”. Because, according to her if you don’t explore, “you will never know what you will learn. So keep walking!” She admits that striking a work-life balance can be challenging at times. “It is not always easy for anybody today, especially those with young children, with aged parents or in my case, with aged pets. But creating a solid ecosystem and having a supportive spouse is a boon,” she observes.