Mr. Siddharth Singh is the Head – Corporate Affairs, Communications and Administration at Tata Power-DDL. He is responsible for managing key external stakeholders of the company. He ensures the leadership team and the entire organization is aligned with company’s messages and actions across all stakeholders. He manages consistency over brand, reputation and voice through concerted Media Relation and Marketing Communications initiatives. He also drives strategic PR initiatives to increase awareness for Tata Power-DDL. Mr. Singh also heads the Administration Department.
Interview Q&A: Mr. Siddharth Singh, Head Corporate Affairs, Corporate Communications and Administration Tata Power-DDL
Q1. From total backwater to elbowing their way on the tables where the big calls are made, how do you think the profile of a Corporate Affairs Head has evolved over the years?
- Over the years, the profile of a Corporate Affairs Head has underwent a lot of change, it is challenging in terms of career track and responsibilities. It requires proactiveness and ability to meet stringent timelines. Earlier, the role was restricted to liasoning and policy advocacy in power corridors but now it also encompasses communication (both internal and external), corporate social responsibility and social media.
Q2. What do you think are the expectations of the C-suite and Board from the Corporate Affairs Leaders with the ever changing environment and does the profile require a deep understanding of the business?
- Corporate Affairs Head works both horizontally and vertically, it is important for him/her to be at the helm as they are capable of contributing analysis of both micro and macro trends which helps them to devise strategies that connect company’s actions and messages with ever expanding set of stakeholders. Working in sync. with other departments/ functions (from top to bottom) including business and technology partners, helps in better information dissemination across all platforms and audiences.
The incumbent has to take the outside world to the boardroom and also inside perspective to the outside world, to ensure all the stakeholders are being heard. The C suite expects them to be progressive, to be able to come up with new ideas of working and engage meaningfully with all stakeholders.
Q3. In today’s business environment, what do you think are the required skillsets for anybody aspiring to enter into this profile?
- For anyone aspiring to enter this domain, he/ she should be highly attuned to the nuances and impact of everything around them, be it social political regulatory or global and also be comforting to adjust in a fluidic business environment. Mostly, people with proven track record as a bureaucrat or someone who has worked in a govt. setup and/ or dealt with media, someone who is well versed with the social fabric, has handled international relations. It is no more an ivory tower job, one has to keep their ears to the ground.
Q4. How critical is corporate communication in corporate affairs profile?
- I think in simple words, the role of a CC is to connect all levers and bring a 360 degree perspective to the table. Today, a CC leader must be able to connect company’s strategy and actions with their expanding set of stakeholders, be dynamic and able to get into constructive dialogue and fit together/ shape the emerging forces of technology, globalisation and understanding with employees, stakeholder demands and have a strategic foresight. It is important to be connected to different stakeholders through different mediums like blog for sector experts, roundtable conferences with leaders, authored articles in magazines and white papers, whatsapp business account to connect with youth.
Q5. What role does communication play in ensuring that leadership team and organisation is well aligned with its stakeholders’ expectations?
- The main role of a communicator is to contribute in building brand equity, he/ she has to work in tandem with the regulators, decision makers and ensure the consumer reaps out maximum benefit at a minimal cost. Unlike the yester days, it is the age of two way communication and not the job of a PRO. Today, communication includes everything from internal communication to social media, media and marketing communication etc. The format in which news is disseminated has evolved, with the advent of mojos or mobile journos, all the news is distributed and consumed on a real time basis.
Q6. In your opinion, how important is it for the creative, media and digital agencies to work in confluence for desired communication results?
- The agencies bring a varied experience of their own expertise. Thus, to make communication more effective and create a 360 degree understanding with the audience, it is important that all stakeholders have a unified brand experience so all the communication campaigns should be orchestrated in such a manner that optimal results are achieved. The confluence of thoughts should be such which supports in devising the creative, media and digital strategy, right from ideation to planning to execution and then measurement.
Q7. In the age of judicial, civil society and political activism how Corporate Affairs leaders can effectively manage Government Relations, Corporate Communications, Brand Communications and Policy Advocacy. What is your mantra of success?
- In the age of civil, political and judicial activism, the brand and advertisement professionals find it difficult to stay the course as a small disruption can also rock the boat, it is important to develop clairvoyance. Like in the case of Walmart, the company could get a foot in the door but was unable to enter venture into India until this year. I think it is very important to reach out to political think tanks, both incumbent and the opposition to align the company with the sector and overall benefit of the nation while also navigate the business environment from time to time. So it is important to be in control of things. There should be alignment and strong understanding between government relations, corporate communications etc. professionals to be able to successfully swim through unchartered waters.