A multifaceted media personality, a national tennis champ with an MBA in Marketing, Lynn de Souza has enjoyed a long 25-year career in advertising media, working for Ogilvy, Grey and Lintas. Recognised and acknowledged as one of the most influential women in the industry, Lynn is also an avid animal lover having volunteered her time and passion towards animal welfare, which prompted her to take a brief sabbatical to study Veterinary Nursing in Australia. Subsequently, Lynn built a veterinary hospital and shelter on her own ancestral land in Goa.
Besides animal welfare, Lynn is also involved with the upliftment of girls and women and has founded the Women’s Leadership Network for Interpublic Group in India. Concluding her advertising career in 2012, after a four year term as Chairperson and CEO of Lintas Media Group, Lynn set up Social Access Communications in 2013 – India’s first communications agency working purely towards social causes.
Excerpts of an interview.
ED: How would you capture your entire professional journey from start to till date?
Lynn de Souza: It’s been like a wonderful train journey, rhythmic while travelling, while the stops along the way have been sometimes educational, mostly enriching, often chaotic. The Ad and Media world expects a lot out of anyone, long hours, deep dedication, and amid all the craziness a different kind of discipline does take root. I began my journey at Ogilvy and got hooked to the media world at Trikaya where my media skills got transformed from science to art. Lintas then gave me the opportunity to understand, pioneer, and develop as a business leader.
ED: You are an avid animal lover. How did this come about and how has this passion moulded your personal life?
LD: I have always loved animals and nature. So has my family. I have been a follower of St Francis of Assisi, the Patron Saint of animals and the environment since the age of 26, and founded a shelter in Goa on my ancestral land after studying veterinary nursing in Australia (while on a sabbatical) with help from Maneka Gandhi who has been my long time mentor in this space. A relationship with nature and all the birds, animals, plants and insects in it, and with the water in particular, make you understand your role as a responsible human being in a way that inter-human relationships don’t fully capture.
ED: What burning issues ail the country today and what needs to be the citizen perspective of a fast changing economy and society?
LD: The most burning issue pertains to women’s rights and responsibilities, since women will make or break the next century. Last week Stephen Hawking wrote that in today’s digitised world where many tasks are taken over by technology, what will be needed in coming times will just be the caring, creative and supervisory roles. All of these are the domain of women. The Y chromosome has played a territorial, egotistic role over the past two centuries – it is time for the X chromosome to take over and play the collaborative, nurturing duties that are needed for this planet to survive beyond the next 100 years. Women and girls must therefore be given opportunities to learn, play and thrive.
ED: Do we need more women leaders in the political and business industry?
LD: We have enough women leaders, we need more of the right kind. Women in business are doing very well, and are great role models. Women in politics need to add a layer of ethics into their performance.
ED: How did Social Access come about? What is its core soul? What does it aim to achieve?
LD: Communication and story telling are the most important instruments of social change. Being able to reach the right stories at the right time to the right people is what delivers real impact on the ground. Meenakshi, Deepam and I felt that if the skills and knowledge that we had learned and applied to commercially exchanged products and services to the development sector, we would be more beneficial to society. This however requires a complete change in mindset and approach. The greater good takes precedence over personal fame and fortune. Hence Social Access has been set up and working for the past three years, delivering strategic and communication solutions to 34 non-profits so far, connecting them with well meaning media houses and companies, and is now looking to grow further by executing bespoke properties for this sector.
ED:How do you see Social Entrepreneurship as the new business frontier in India.
LD: It is not and must not be a business frontier. Young entrepreneurs, wishing to provide services that are good for society, particularly in the five key areas of health, education, sports, nutrition, and conservation, should build sustainable working models, but a social entrepreneur by definition cannot make a personal profit. I see a lot of young people interested in such work, rather than heading off to the nearest IIT or MBA school. Digital technology and Social Media are great encouragers but must be used with maturity and caution.
ED:Youth as a driving force v/s old school values. How does Social Access aim to bridge the gap?
LD: Digital technology has empowered young people in unimaginable ways across all strata of society, affecting both connectivity and personalisation. This is therefore a tremendous force to work with to ensure the sustainability of our planet. Traditional occupations are giving way to many more innovative pursuits and volunteering for causes, or participating in social movements has gained a lot of traction. Social change makers need to tap into, mobilise and harness this force, which is why Social Access has worked with marathons, and developed bespoke properties for young people in colleges, and has more planned.
ED:Share with Women the secret ingredients towards a perfect balance of Life.
LD: Life should not necessarily be in perfect balance to be productive and useful. In fact, it’s the imperfections and the imbalances which spark great ideas and solutions. Having said that, for any individual man or woman, it is important to be yourself at all times. To have self confidence, which is different from over-confidence. To be secure and heave self esteem, and be grounded in a strong personal value system that is rooted in compassion.
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Social Access
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