In India, the rights and opportunities for women are still on the cusp of developing as it continues its emboldened battle against a strongly patriarchal society that cultivates a conservative nature that still wholly accepts the notion of arranged marriages and stay-at-home wives. But despite this, the new generation is seeing a breathtaking change in various fields such as the film industry, corporate boardrooms, IT, arts, and most, especially, the marketing industry.
Introducing Raisa Gupta – the CEO and Founder of Whack Thwack Integrated Marketing Solutions. Her tale begins with a thirst for knowledge, ambition and drive. She fought to become one of the most trusted names in the growing advertising boom India is experiencing. “ When I was starting, it was more to do with, Oh! You marry a rich guy and then build your own as a part of the entire entity and culture.”
But, the truth was, according to Raisa, “Nobody did something on their own. The idea was that they could have extraordinary lives when they married a great guy. That was more or less the idea of it. So breaking that was very important for me because I realized early on that I needed to be my own rich boy.”
BREAKING INTO THE INDUSTRY
Realizing that if she left this to the men, nothing would happen in this space because no one would be pushing for it. Always up for a challenge, Raisa started to plant her roots in the advertising realm by approaching it in a way that was unheard of at a time when Saatchi Communications, DNB, and other power players reigned supreme. She didn’t study for this like most of her counterparts, but Raisa combined her acumen in engineering and design, which worked in her favor; she proved that she could get scrappy by pursuing a route without the financial backing of family and resources.
“When you don’t come from a specific industry, but you have a lot of knowledge around different subjects, the fun thing that happens in the process is that you have no preconceived notions about anything. So when you’re giving your clients answers, suggestions and resolutions, everything is to do with what you feel works for them from a fresh perspective.”
Breaking into this highly demanding world wasn’t without its precarious scenarios. Raisa candidly opens up about gender-based violence and sexual harassment in the bustling world of being a female CEO. “ If I have to be very honest about this, I haven’t faced any issues being a woman, I’ve been paid the same amount most men would, at times, even more. But when it came to personal space in this field – what used to happen was I would do meetings that might lead to work or, at times, not. A man would want to reach out to you try to touch you, and say, “ if I’m willing to do this, I will get this as an output, and I have been told that very openly.”
In that casting couch-type scenario, she always answered, “ Thank you, I really don’t need one, and I am sure I can figure out ways and avenues which work for me better.” She candidly Opens up about being molested at various points of her life, but that didn’t stop her from pursuing her dreams and the life she wanted. “ I tell myself, I’m going to come out of this stronger; I’m going to be better than this. They did this to me, but I will not do anything back to them other than become so good at what I do.” Which, if we’re being honest, is the best dish served cold. Positive reinforcement and pushing herself harder in the right direction in a society dictated by the power of money.
INSPIRATION & KAZUO ISHIGURO
Parents, no matter what we say, play an integral role in shaping our beliefs, and for Raisa, it is no different. “ My loving parents and partner were always hustling, which greatly impacted how I worked.” Her parents supported her dreams and ambitions without fail, and for the rising powerhouse, that means a lot in the society that they live in.
“My mother couldn’t do many things back in the day. But she made way for me to do whatever I wanted and become what I wanted to become. And the same goes for my father, who comes from a time when they don’t let women be who they want.
Another source of inspiration for her is Kazuo Ishiguro and Hayao Miyazaki, two unbelievable talents who created their worlds by pursuing their dreams in pursuit of success. In creating Whack Thwack, she applied the same principle by looking into her past. In this case, it was slam books and two unexpected movies.
SLAM BOOKS, THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA, AND 13 GOING ON 30
Believe it or not, this unlikely trio served as the inspiration for the conception of Whack Thwack. “I want to do something new daily and do not put us in a box. By wanting more projects, she didn’t shirk herself into one category and worked on utilizing her creative brain into a series of projects in various categories.
“ I did not really go for a job. I didn’t want to do anything besides all of these things, which excited me when I knew that it was something I could do. Initially, I started writing more than anything else.”
When the Devil Wears Prada and 13 Going on 30 first came out on the silver screen, it was the unlikely inspiration for how she wanted to build her future. “I want to be 30, Flirty, and Thriving.” Raisa started that journey head-on by putting herself in every odd project she found interesting.
But in pursuing her quest for the life she wanted, she had to balance everything on the tightrope with mastery, and if we’re being honest – most of us are still on that, so we know how difficult things can be. Raisa admittedly said, “ I was not very good at it when I started and later realized early on that the pressure was real.
Raisa’s burnout came when she had no balance by constantly working without breaks to reach her goals, which ultimately led to her being sick. After that, she realized that life would be empty despite her success. “You can make a lot of money, be good at what you do. But if you’re not living it, it is not worth it, and the constant feeling of emptiness will be there.
CELEBRATING WOMEN EVERY DAY
For the longest time, Raisa’s relationship with women hasn’t always been the best. Because the truth is, women are competitive by nature, and it’s not hard to believe with the socio-cultural dynamics we have growing up. But there’s no blame being thrown here. It’s just the way that the world works.
“ I think women just are competitive because we’re in a world where a lot of things are not given to us easily. So we have to constantly fight to make our place in the world by getting somewhere despite our positions in life.”
But the endgame is, in Raisa’s eyes is the innate ability in all of us to make an impact and attain true happiness with bursts of achievements and special moments. In elevating women every day, she does it by being there, having conversations that need to be had in whatever hardship they may be going through, by giving them a safe space to open up and living their lives fully to share their own experiences with others.
BEST ADVICE EVER
“Everything you want to do and have is inside you. No one can tell you who you are, what you’re capable of, or what you can and cannot do. It is you, who decides, and the power lies within you to do anything you want.
It’s a loud, clear, and powerful statement that rang through most of Raisa’s life and her choices, whether in business, friends, partnerships and love, that is an embodiment of her inner character, which frankly, a lot more people need to see.
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