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Women in Leadership: Agency Founders paving the way in advertising

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Shamita Islur
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Women in Leadership


As International Women’s Day 2023 approaches, Social Samosa puts together a list of women agency founders who are paving the way for others through their agencies in the advertising industry.

Advertising agencies form the narrative of how the world sees gender through campaign-driven communications for brands and with this, comes the need to make an informed decision. 

In an industry where men take up most leadership positions, today, we are seeing strong women taking the lead to drive discussions on diversity and inclusivity. 

As per Egon Zehnder Global Board Diversity Tracker 2022, women hold 27% of board positions, up by 3.7 percent from 2020, marking the fastest improvement in the percentage of women on boards in 10 years. 

With International Women’s Day 2023 approaching fast, Social Samosa takes a look at women who have started their own ad agencies and are paving the way for others. 

Also Read: Coveted blue tick is up for grabs; experts share implications on industry

Unmisha Bhatt - Co-founder & Chief Strategy Officer India & MENA, Tonic Worldwide

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With over 20 years of experience in developing Brand Communication & strategies across consumer touchpoints, Unmisha leads Tonic Worldwide’s India and MENA region as Co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer. She leads strategy for brands by enabling global expansion and has worked with brands like Ponds (HUL), Bajaj Electricals, Tata Sky, Kotak Investment Advisors Ltd.

Chandni Shah - Founder & COO, Kinnect

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Chandni is the founder and COO of Kinnect, which is now a part of the FCB Group India (an IPG Holding Company). At the very young age of 22, she launched Kinnect with her partner, Rohan Mehta and scaled the agency to a talent base of 500+ digital experts across offices in Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru. When she's not orchestrating the agency's operations, she's also a regular speaker at industry events and a passionate advocate for driving change and innovation in digital marketing.

Pallavi Chakravarti - Founder & CCO, Fundamental

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The latest to join the list of women-led agencies is Pallavi Chakravarti. The former Creative Head (West) of DDB Mudra Group, Pallavi, alongside Nishant Saurabh and Anand Murthy have recently launched their agency ‘Fundamental’. With an experience of nearly 20 years working with Saatchi & Saatchi India, JWT, Grey Group and Taproot Dentsu, she has served on several juries - national and international. She has also won over 150 awards at advertising award shows.

Vidya Venkatraman - Founder & CEO, Meraki & Co

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Vidya founded Meraki & Co. in May 2020 and equipped creatively driven and digitally-focused marketing solutions to businesses. Graduating from IBS Bangalore with a major in Marketing, her career spans nine years as she worked for multiple organizations like Practo, Indiabulls, Yellow tie hospitality, Aflatoon, and Fashion TV. 

Shradha Agarwal - Co-founder & CEO, Grapes

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An intrapreneurial itch made Shradha leave her MNC job at Bharti Airtel Limited to join Grapes in 2013. She has worked with brands like Maruti Suzuki Nexa, Alpenliebe (Perfetti Van Melle), Mankind (Acnestar, Ringout) Blackberrys MensWear, Lacoste, Red Tape, Videocon World, Homeshop18, Kelvinator, Vovlo Eicher, OLX and many more.

Gauri Awasthi - Co-founder & Managing Director, Digital Edify

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With a career spanning over 18 plus years, Gauri has worked at agencies like Cheil India, WPP and iCubesWire and more before starting Digital Edify in 2020. Her experience also includes working with Fabindia, Microsoft, Samsung, Adidas, HCL, Havells, Cargill, Reckitt Benckiser, Nestle, Titan, ITC – Wills Lifestyle & John Players, British Council, Biba, Pepperfry, Urban Ladder, United Breweries and more. She has been nominated as one of the Top 35 Women Achiever in New-Age Media by Google in 2019, recognized in the Top Rankers Excellence Award as #MarketingLeadership and awarded with #SS40Under40 by Social Samosa in 2020.

Sowmya Iyer - Founder & CEO, DViO Digital

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Sowmya started DViO in the year 2011 with a set of investors and eventually bought them out to own 100% of the company. Her education in English Literature and Arts combined with running digital and technology companies early in her life helped her build the agency specialising in convergence of Creativity, Digital Channels and Technology to achieve business growth for its clients. She is also a start-up investor, a TEDx Speaker and Chief Mentor at the MAD-Tech Incubator, a marketing incubator for start-ups in advertising, content and marketing technology.

Ashwini Deshpande - Co-founder & Director, Elephant Design

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A 1989 graduate of National Institute of Design, along with two Co-founders, Ashwini has led Elephant Design, an independent integrated design consultancy. The agency has worked for brands such as Daimler, Unilever, P&G, Gillette, Britannia, Piramal, Nirlep, Titan, Godrej and Paper Boat drinks. She has also been a jury member for Cannes Lions, Young Guns, Global ReBrand 100, D&AD Awards, Spike Asia & Design for Asia Awards.

Nisha Singhania - Co-founder & Director, Infectious Advertising

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Starting her advertising journey 24 years ago, Nisha has worked with Gray, Leo Burnett, Rediffusion Y&R and Saatchi & Saatchi. She founded Infectious Advertising in 2013 with Ramanuj Shastry. Today, the agency has more than 50 employees and works with clients like IDFC, Tata, National Geographic, UltraTech Cement, Inorbit Malls and Tribhovandas Bhimji Zaveri.

Neha Puri - Founder & CEO, Vavo Digital

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Neha founded Vavo Digital in 2020 and has worked on driving marketing ROI with Influencer driven content. The organisation, which has its headquarters in Mumbai, has executed several influencer marketing campaigns.

Being a digital head she loves creativity, not only as a hobby, but as a way of life.

Swati Nathani - Co-founder & Chief Business Officer, Team Pumpkin

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As someone who is passionate about ROI, Swati has advocated for entrepreneurship. She has worked towards driving ROI for clients with creative and performance-led campaigns, eventually, that drove ROI for her agency - Team Pumpkin. She has been awarded by Social Samosa Superwomen in 2020.

Stuti Jalan - Founder, Crosshairs Communication

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Stuti founded Crosshairs Communication in April 2003. The company has grown since its inception through strategic & effective planning fused with innovative ideas and leadership. She has shared her experiences across several global forums including the Dell Women Entrepreneur Network and Fortune/US State Department Mentoring Program.

Priti Nair - Founder & Director, Curry Nation

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Priti started her career at Dart Communication. Since then, she has had long stints in senior positions at Leo Burnett followed by Lowe, Grey, BBH and in 2011, she started her very own Curry Nation. The agency has handled many brands like Emami, Cavin Kare, Taste for Life, Rasna, Hometown, Loksatta and more.

Chaaya Baradhwaaj - Founder, BC Web Wise

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Chaaya is a pioneer & thought leader committed to mining digital opportunities to grow businesses. Her decade-long experience as a business journalist with Business World and Business Today fuelled her belief in digital as a game changer for Indian Businesses. 

Jyothirmayee JT - Founder & CEO, HiveMinds – a unit of Madison World

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Jyothirmayee has been the key marketing strategist and consultant for many Indian startups. Her specialties include marketing, strategic planning, start-ups, web analytics, and engineering mentorship.

Anuja Deora Sanctis - Founder & CEO, Filter Coffee Co.

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Starting her career as a Credit Analyst at Citi in 2009, Anuja moved onto becoming a Digital Strategist at MindShift Interactive before starting her own digital marketing agency Filter Coffee Co.

Bhavishya Bhan & Nikita Burman - Co-founders, The Bluebeans

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The entrepreneurial journey of Bhavishya and Nikita, started in their 20s while working at Zomato when they realised that restaurant owners have several pain points. After starting The Bluebeans, the duo took care of end-to-end digital marketing needs.

Dhruvi Joshi - Co-founder, PivotRoots

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Dhruvi joined Resultrix in 2010 as a digital media planner and started her career as a digital media specialist and later went on to launch her own agency. She has managed and executed many key agency accounts across industry sectors including ICICI Bank, Max Bupa , Royal Sundaram, HDFC Ergo, IMS, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Store India, TimesofMoney to name a few.

Mala Mody - Co - Founder and Business Head, Auraa

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Mala started Auraa in 2005 and has worked towards bringing in innovation and efficiency in her business. At her creative agency, she aims to create a working environment where creativity flows, without compromising on efficiency. She was one of the winners at Social Samosa Superwomen 2020.

Shruti Dhadda - Co-founder, TING

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TING is a fully integrated creative, web and digital advertising agency established in 2009, helmed by Shruti, alongside Manan Vora, Aadil Mehta and Sudarshan Anandkumar.

Sneh Sharma - Founder & CEO, Ittisa

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Sneh started her marketing journey in 2008 and has worked at companies like pepper square, Havas Digital: Media Contacts, Webenza and more. She is also the co-founder at Dogsee Chew.

Vandana Sachdev - Co-founder and COO, BuzzOne

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Vandana has worked since 2003 at companies like E -TV network, National Geographic Partners, Times Internet, DGM India and many more before launching BuzzOne, which was founded in 2015.

Lakshmi Subramanian - Co-founder, Greenroom Now

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Before becoming the Co-founder of the influencer marketing agency, Greenroom Now, Lakshmi has worked in various media companies like UTV Media, Star India Pvt. Ltd, Sun TV Network and more. Her years of experience helps to disrupt the Content and Influencer marketing space by finding newer and innovative means to tell the brand story. 

Anusha Shetty - Co-founder and CEO, Autumn Worldwide (now part of Grey Group)

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A Brand specialist at heart, Anusha co-founded Autumn Worldwide (now AutumnGrey) in 2005 to shape the new normal. Starting her journey in 1994, she has worked at companies like Ammirati Puris Lintas, EuroRSCG, Honeywell, and more before. She is now the Chairperson & Group CEO of Grey Group. 

Payal Sakhuja - Founder, Ripple Links

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Payal is closely involved in the strategic planning and operations at Ripple Links and works in a primarily collaborative approach with clients to reach and exceed their business goals. The full-service influencer marketing agency provides content and analytics driven services.

Have we missed listing any women agency founders? Write to us at content@socialsamosa.com.

agency founders Indian women agency founders International Women’s Day 2023 women agency founders India Women leadership in India