UK Power Book 2015

The definitive guide to the brightest and most influential PR professionals in Britain.

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Roma Balwani

Roma Balwani

President, group sustainability, CSR & communications

Vedanta

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When and where were you born?

I was born in Mumbai, India.

Where do you live?

Mumbai, India.

To whom do you report?

Group CEO.

To which medium do you turn for breaking news?

CNN breaking news alerts.

Which media outlet is the most influential in your world?

Print media, particularly the Economic Times, India Edition.

Which politician do you respect most?

There are many that I respect. A legendary figure I would like to name is Indira Gandhi, the former prime minister of India. In today’s context, there are many politicians who have worked with a purpose—such as Piyush Goyal, India's minister for power, coal, and new and renewable energy.

Which business/brand (other than your employer) do you most admire?

Tata Group: they have sustained the image of an ethical brand over many decades in India and globally.

What is your favourite comms campaign of the past year (not one of your own)?

In spite of being a tech brand, Google has been rolling out campaigns across the globe that give it a human face. Its 'The web is what you make of it' campaign celebrated the potential of the web in transforming users' lives. Another favorite is the recent ‘Reunion’ Google Search campaign, which showcased the power of technology and the difference that it can bring to people's lives in India and Pakistan.

In what respect has your job changed most in the past five years?

My job has evolved from being a senior communication professional in an Indian conglomerate to a global role in Vedanta, a London-listed diversified natural resources company, and the role has morphed to include sustainability and CSR. It elevated my function and I am part of the Executive Committee, which is the leadership team at Vedanta.

What is the biggest single challenge facing the profession in your market?

In today’s world, for a corporate, trust is now a balance-sheet concern and trust deficit is a key issue for building and maintaining the perception of a morally strong brand. Any combination of breakdown in capability, judgement or motive will see trust in a brand destroyed. To build a powerful identity with strong ethical and moral values is the challenge one faces in the socio-economic complexities companies encounter in today’s context.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received?

No matter what, tomorrow is another day. Face up to your challenges and you will succeed.

Who is your favourite fictional PR character (in a movie/TV show/literature)?

Olivia in the TV series Scandal. It is interesting to see how the character navigates through her time-tested PR plan with rigor. It is interesting to see how she tries to circumvent the perils of PR which she faces time and again, sometimes not very effectively. She still manages to garner empathy from her audience and has the ability to convincingly portray herself as not just a hard-nosed and focused PR professional but as a lady who has simple human emotions and needs that can sometimes cloud her professional judgment.

If you weren’t in PR what would you do for a living?

I love interacting with people and mentoring young minds. I may have focused on specializing in the area of human resources and build my capabilities to become a global HR professional.