Ascend Guest Lecture Series | Ms. Rachana Panda, Chief Communications Officer | GE Southeast Asia

It was a great pleasure to host Ms. Rachana Panda, CCO and Citizenship leader, GE Southeast Asia at IIFT for an informative fireside chat. The discussion started off with the host, Mr. Nitesh Padhi, asking about her career path and job role of a communications specialist. Ms. Panda said that corporate communication is an ever evolving function and it’s mainly about connecting the internal and external world where understanding the business is most important and content creation is key. She talked about how any PR is good PR as PR is very expensive in today’s day and age. At GE the focus is on innovative content and they like surprising the audience, the key mode of communication being tech driven. They have a strong social media presence and digital media is their go-to strategy rather than print media. They believe in catering to the local customer rather than the global customer by customizing their strategy according to the local customer’s needs. She emphasized that GE takes a local approach even in it’s CSR initiatives, in India the focus is on women and the girl child.
She spoke about the new ad campaign in partnership with Jet and the evolving nature of their communication strategies. She also gave us some insights into how GE conducts mock crisis simulations to keep internal stakeholders prepared for real crises and about how it’s all about having confidence in the system. She believes that humility, a smile on the face and trust are the key crisis management tools.
“Tomorrow is a new day,” said Ms. Panda while she advised us to be candid at all times, to think differently and be humble and pushback to succeed in the corporate world. Adjusting to the culture is more important than experience these days. She spoke about the various challenges faced in the digital industry and changes in working and business style since the advent of ever changing technology and how companies need to evolve to keep up. She ended the session by showing us a video about the key learnings/takeaways she’s had in her 25 years of working life.

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