I Get To Shoot for the Stars and Make Bold Decisions Every Day: Sampada Pillai

I Get To Shoot for the Stars and Make Bold Decisions Every Day: Sampada Pillai

“Each time we stumble and fall,  we don’t fail, we learn and grow stronger. As women, we need to love and appreciate ourselves more.”

– Sampada Pillai

A Journey of Resilience 

My career had a very filmy start — it began in the city of dreams —Mumbai. My first stint was in advertising and I loved every aspect of my job. My life seemed to be straight out of a Bollywood movie! I got to work for exciting brands like TATA, Bosch, Infosys, and so on. I eventually shifted to marketing and moved to Bengaluru. Life raced fast from working for MNCs to heading marketing at a start-up.

I had to pause my career after I had my first child. It was a tough decision to make but with the support of my loved ones, I was able to pursue an MBA  at Pondicherry University during my break. I got back on track and here I am today — the Director of Marketing for Ninja Global. Reaching a directorial level is certainly a significant achievement for any working woman. My team and I are driven to nurture Ninja Global and I want to ensure that our work gets all the exposure it deserves. 

Nurturing Ninja Global

I have been with Ninja Global ever since it was just an idea — we were driven to create an Alibaba in the Agritech space. Our journey from there has grown by leaps and bounds. We’ve participated in noteworthy global events like Berlin Fruits Logistica, Asia Fruit Logistica, and Gulf Fruit Logistica. 

As the Head of Marketing for Ninja Global, I get to shoot for the stars and make bold decisions every day. Every little experiment is a bold move towards something bigger. Ninja Global is almost like a smaller start-up — a team bubbling with energy and enthusiasm, always excited to learn. There is a lot riding on our shoulders but we own it and drive it proudly. We nurture Ninja Global like our baby!

As a team, we ensure that our customers are at the centre of all our decisions and actions. With modest expansion plans, my role is to get the maximum exposure for Ninja Global and its offerings. Living the Ninja CODE, as we call it here. 

Rising Above the Obstacles

 I’ve always had wonderful women managers to look up to. They were so supportive, empathetic, and firm. But when I moved to Fintech, I remember being the only woman in a room full of men during board meetings. It was a struggle to get the attention of men — most would assume they knew better during leadership meetings. I had my CEO onboard during the initial meetings to make them realise the value I brought to the table. I had to constantly remind myself that while they may know more about Fintech, I knew marketing much better. 

I feel being a woman leader is not just about shattering the glass ceiling. It’s about being a role model for other women — inspiring and supporting them to reach their goals. As women, it’s our duty to make room for everyone and ensure that everyone feels welcomed and valued. 

My focus has always been to reach out and support other working women within the organisation.  In a professional environment, I always felt that a woman has to stand on a mountain of ‘Nos’ before she gets a single ‘Yes’. Remember to give your fellow women that little push and encouragement often, it truly makes a huge difference. 

Indra Nooyi and Michelle Obama are two leaders who have constantly inspired me. 

Women, Learn To Love Yourselves!

I’ve always wondered what kind of leader I want to be and I found my answer in this quote by Indra Nooyi — 

“The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humour but without folly.” 

Each time we stumble and fall,  we don’t fail, we learn and grow stronger. From preparing meals to juggling exams and projects, women have to plan their family’s daily lives too. I’ve noticed how we women are constantly worried about the tasks on our to-do list. This non-stop thought cycle weighs us down on more than the tasks. Over the years, I’ve realised that there is no such thing as ‘work-life balance’. Life is all about priorities and a matter of what you want to prioritise at that moment. 

My advice for women is to love and appreciate yourselves more. We have to learn to be in the ‘present’ and plan for the ‘future’.

Here’s to strong women: May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them!


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