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We continue our global reach for Women in Tech and meet Bharati Ahuja. The beauty of working within a small niche of professional SEO’s (as I like to call them: the good ones and the bad ones) is getting to know people better. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Baharti as one of the good guys within the community for a few years now… always helpful, social and extremely informative. The beauty of creating the space and community with this series is meeting and reading about these women. You can find her on Twitter, Google+, and Linkedin
Actually, as I was reading through Bharati’s post I realized something very important.The more I create these content themes, (Honoring Women Wed, then Top SEO Women) the more I realize there’s still so much left to do. So let’s be clear – the purpose of this series is to enlighten readers to the variety of struggles, similarities and joys women face on a global scale. Learn about leadership directly from women that make it happen daily, no excuses needed. Lastly, I hope it’ll give you ideas and creative insights on how to attain your goals in the ever-evolving world of technology.
1. What are some of your “rules” for effective leaders?
I consider integrity and a positive approach to be major qualities for any leader. Moreover, constantly upgrading your knowledge and having an open mind to welcome new ideas also helps a leader to communicate effectively with team members of all age groups.
2. Are you doing what you love and getting better at it? How? What skills allowed you to start?
Oh yes, I am surely doing what I love the most. i.e helping people and businesses establish a quality web presence and have an improved search presence. I like being called an SEO and my company also focuses on Search , Social Media and Content. There is something new to learn every day in this field, which makes it more challenging. The very fact that we have been offering web and search solutions since 2000 proves that we love what we do. The umpteen number of blog posts about ‘SEO IS DEAD’ has always given our business a new lease of life.
3. How do you empower your team?
I induct every new team member, explaining our ideologies and also inform them about our approach towards the Search , Social Media and Content services and then give them full freedom of execution. I think once we have a common goal and each one has the freedom to work in their own creative way, then the results can be achieved. As liberty is not license we have reporting and answerability woven into the whole system of work at each stage. Creative freedom empowers the person to think out of the box and the reporting part at the same time stops them from misusing that freedom.
4. What will I do today that will matter one year from now?
I will turn 50 one year from now. The right focus on work, family and health today will matter the most. As far as business is concerned my team and the word of mouth our work generates will matter the most in future. As regards family and health, quality time spent with my family and proper healthcare will make me more fit for the future challenges.
5. Delegating is not an easy task… what do you delegate? Is it something you need to go back over…just in case?
Very true, delegating is not an easy task, as you can delegate work and authority but one cannot delegate responsibility. At the end of the day if something goes wrong the client contacts you and you have to have an answer. As I mentioned earlier we have a reporting system by which at the end of the day the whole team is aware of the developments of a projects. Moreover, the free environment at work motivates each one of us to accept our mistakes and the whole team works at solving them as a whole.
6. How do you encourage creative thinking within your organization?
In our organization, everyone gets an opportunity to voice their opinions and ideas. I think this freedom of thought encourages creative thinking. We even have brain storming sessions where we discuss the pros and cons of implementing the decisions taken. This surely keeps everyone on the same page and sparks more creative thinking in the process.
7. Where do the great ideas come from in your organization?
There is no one point from where the ideas come from. Every discussion we have with a client, colleague or anything that we surf on the web has the potential of sparking ideas. Sometimes, even watching a very old movie also can be the source of an idea which may be considered new in this age and era. Actually, the Eureka moments come when you are not thinking of them but your sub conscious is always working on it in the backend.
8. You have two equally-qualified candidates, how do you determine whom to hire?
It becomes difficult in such a situation but then I trust my gut feeling and intuition and the first few lines of how a person has described himself in his resume matters a lot.
9. Your number one advice to someone in a new leadership position?
Be a good listener and identify yourself with the goals of the organization. Being a leader gives you the authority but with great authority comes great responsibility. A leader’s success comes from the team – if they are successful then you are successful. But one needs to be sensible enough too, to see through when you are being taken for a ride.
10. If you could have lunch with 3 great women in history alive or dead, who would they be and what would you eat?
Indira Gandhi – The former prime minister of India, who was called the only man in the cabinet. As a child, I was very inspired by the way she delivered her speeches and in that era of black and white TV also she had a charm which empowered every woman. I would like to have an authentic Indian Cuisine of course.
Oprah Winfrey – She needs no introduction and has inspired many. I love the confidence with which she conducts her show and speaks with ease to whoever comes to her show. I would prefer to have some coffee with her. As, I would like to focus on listening to her rather than focus on eating.
Sheryl Sandberg – COO of Facebook and the first woman to serve on Facebook’s board. After reading her book ”Lean In” , I could correlate to many things mentioned in the book. Hence, I would prefer to eat something which has an international touch but is available in India too. Maybe a Subway sandwich as I don’t think she would have time for an elaborate lunch.
11. Are you doing what you love – would you do things differently to get there?
Yes, as mentioned, I love my work and yes, in order to make my business grow I need to invest more monetarily and create a more sophisticated infrastructure to scale higher profits and productivity.
12. Your favorite story about a success or a failure you have learned from. Could be a stalker, could be a failed client… we want to know about your process.
In the past, not once, but twice, it has happened that some web developers who wanted to outsource their SEO projects have approached us and worked with us and in the process, learnt everything from us by way of asking questions and asking for presentations, quotes and reports for their clients. As these projects were outsourced to us we had to keep our anonymity but in the process, they learnt everything from us and started working on SEO projects with a similar approach. In fact, they used our style of sending quotes, pricing policies, reporting and also our style of marketing. We learnt a lesson from this and have stopped taking projects which are outsourced to us via web developers and other SEO companies. We deal directly with clients only.
SEO is a service which only very experienced people have a right perspective of. The newbies and people not knowing about genuine SEO try to learn and then copy your style which I think is nothing short of stealing. As the knowledge that you share is something that you have gathered over a period of time due to hard work and dedication.
13. You are well known in your niche, how are you helping other women and giving it forward.
Well, frankly, not doing much, but I write a blog on which I try to share my experiences and knowledge. I also am associated with Ahmedabad Management Association where I conduct SEO training sessions. AMA, being a non-profit organization, offers these courses at a nominal fee.
14. What’s something most people don’t know about you?
Sorry, I don’t know.
15. How can we as women make the world a better place?
As women, we have to play a major role in bringing up of the children and these children are the future of any country. Hence, the ideals we inculcate in our children is actually shaping the future of the country. At the work place, as women, if we refuse to tolerate any kind of injustice and inequality, then I think we can pave the way for the coming generation.