Pragnya Ram | Influence 100
Charting the future of public relations

Pragnya Ram

Group Executive President, Corporate Communications & CSR
Birla Group

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. Just as importantly, perhaps, is her leadership of the company’s CSR function, which includes numerous industry-leading community development initiatives, including 46 schools and 18 hospitals. Prior to joining Birla in 1997, Ram spent a decade heading communications at Hindustan Ciba-Geigy.

Can you share a moment in your career that you recognized PR's direct impact on business performance?
Tough one! One works in tandem with the Business Leadership team.  Over these 2 decades, our Group under Mr. Kumar Mangalam  Birla's visionary gaze, has made 36 acquisitions, global and in India, besides several restructuring moves.  Despite some of these being very complex and vested interests putting roadblocks, we have always got positive reportage.  Businesses in our Group accept that strategic communication and PR provides a positional advantage.  A little aside, for three consecutive years our Group has enjoyed the pole position in Nielsen's Corporate Image Monitor.  These are a testament to the importance of PR's deep engagement with the businesses.  These are all "AHA" moments.

What are the industry's biggest challenges and opportunities? 
Tectonic Technological shifts
The tyranny of instant timelines / media pressures 
The Social media having an asymmetric impact
Opportunities: To be a step ahead of issues and handle them proactively in preempting the exciting realities in a digitalized world.

How do you handle the unexpected?
Keep one's cool and respond/act nimbly with the oversight of our Chairman and turn the tide or celebrate as the situation demands.

How do you relax?
Reading, listening to music (mostly jazz and Indian classical) and watching good movies

Book/movie/TV show/podcast that teaches a valuable lesson about PR?
The Queen
The King's speech 

If I wasn't working in marketing/communications, I would be...
Professor / Designer (I design my sarees)