It goes without a doubt that chance plays a role in our lives, and that events lead to unforeseen consequences. Very often we discover that chance plays a far larger role in the life trail, than we realise … just as it happened with Vipin Nair, Head – Communications, Wipro Ltd.
Interestingly, he shared that he “stumbled upon this opportunity at Wipro to head their communications function” and “though it was an unfamiliar territory”, he took it up, as “corporation communications is, in many ways, more strategic storytelling”!
His early career was spent in the world of news. A communications professional, experienced in both external and internal communications, Vipin worked as a journalist for nearly two decades covering a wide variety of subjects before joining Wipro. With a diverse experience in the media, he has worked with print publications, such as The Economic Times and Financial Express among others. His career also includes international news wires; he was the Executive Editor of Ticker Plant and prior to that he was with NewsWire 18 and CRISIL Marketwire.
In this conversation with Shree Lahiri, he opens up about his unplanned entry into CorpCom, the scope of journalism today, the role of social media in corporate storytelling, the challenges of connecting with internal audiences, a word of advice for the new generation and more …
RT: You joined as the Head of Communications at Wipro in 2012. How has the journey been? What does your mandate at Wipro cover?
VN: At Wipro, I lead both external and internal communications. This has been a great learning experience and I am privileged to work with some extraordinary people. It is a matter of great pride to work for an organisation that is built on a strong foundation of values and is widely respected for its high standards of moral leadership, corporate governance and deep social conscience.
RT: You worked as a journalist for nearly two decades covering a variety of subjects. What led to you transitioning into a corporate communications role?
VN: I have worked with several publications as a journalist, both Indian and international. I enjoyed my journalism career and look back fondly on that period. Early 2012, I stumbled upon this opportunity at Wipro to head their communications function. Though it was an unfamiliar territory, I took it up – as they say, corporation communications is, in many ways, more strategic storytelling!
RT: You worked with print publications as well as international news wires. What is the scope of journalism today for those aspiring for a career in it?
VN: Modern journalism requires practitioners to be skilled in publishing their stories on a wide range of formats, including print, web, video, audio and social. News cycles are now extremely short, and “news” become old very quickly. This requires journalists to be skilled multi-taskers who can not only spot stories but are also able to work quickly and effectively under pressure.
At its core though, the scope of journalism has not changed. Journalism continues to shape public opinion and perception and is as important as it has ever been.
What has changed substantially though is not the scope but how journalism is perceived today. There is now also a hefty dose of scepticism as a result of fake news. This is the biggest threat to journalism today, as it attacks and undermines one of its most fundamental functions: being truthful and honest. For any aspiring journalist and communications practitioner, re-building trust in the media should be a key focus to ensure that they continue to have a purposeful career.
RT: What have been the highlights of your work during your time at Wipro?
VN: It has been a very rewarding experience. Over the years, I have had the opportunity to be involved in a range of activities, from developing messaging to communicating corporate actions or those which have had a social impact. We are present in over 57 countries and have employees of over 125 nationalities. Helping conceptualise and launch the global podcast for our employees is one example I would highlight. We are one of the few companies to have done this, so this ranks high among the most exciting projects of my career here.
RT: Name two PR campaigns – Indian or global from other brands that have stood out for you.
VN: For me, Fearless Girl stood out immediately after it was launched in 2017. The girl facing Wall Street’s charging bull sculpture was such a simple but powerful image that women worldwide could identify with, and that started conversations on how important it is for women to not be afraid of aspiring for leadership positions. It is an outstanding example of how a message can have a far-reaching impact with its honesty.
Equally, National Geographic’s 2019 campaign to raise awareness about the need to protect big cats resonated well with its emotional appeal. The impact of the campaign was based on a powerful image – in this case a “missing cat poster” which rubbed away as pedestrians walked across it and combined it with a call to action.
RT: How have you used social media in corporate storytelling?
VN: As part of the overall Wipro communications function, social media is an additional element in our corporate storytelling activity. Our individual social media channels are managed by a specialist team. The team puts a lot of effort in creating impactful content and social assets that convey our corporate story.
RT: How challenging is it today to communicate with internal audiences?
VN: Internal communications must broadly follow the same principles that apply to communicating with external parties: understand who your audience is first before defining clear messages and creating stories that resonate and have the desired impact.
For an internal audience, the desired impact could be increasing overall employee loyalty, changing the work culture, aligning a team on new strategy or policy. With more than 1,85,000 employees worldwide, our internal audience is very large. It can be challenging to communicate efficiently with such a geographically and culturally diverse group. We use platforms like Yammer, podcasts and other tools to help us manage this process.
RT: What advice do you have for the young communication professionals of today?
VN: Keep your eyes and mind open. Read as much as you can. Be honest and respectful to everyone. Do learn to work under pressure but don’t let it take over your life. Also, find people you trust who can guide you. And, above all, always remember that you work in a community with exciting possibilities.
RT: What do you enjoy doing in your leisure time?
VN: I love reading and travelling. Also, I am game to play a sport at any given opportunity.