Cloud will lift, but the landscape will be different: Melissa Arulappan

While most IABC members in our Asia Pacific region belong to a local chapter, we also have a strong community of Members-at-Large. Melissa Arulappan, Head-CorpComm, IQVIA India is one such member, a baker, sportsperson, craft lover and traveller…Melissa’s communication skills have been honed by varied experiences and encounters over 30 years in the consultancy and corporate world, and beyond. Her curiosity and fascination for exploring the relatively less known whether at work or in her personal life have led to delightful discoveries. Here is a brief conversation with here:

When did you join IABC and why?

I joined IABC in 2018. As I charted my professional development goals for the year, I felt the need to expand my affiliation and networking with international communication organisations, not just to learn from some of the best and most diverse minds in the industry across the world, but also to be able to share my 30+ years of learnings in one of the most fascinating and dynamic communication markets globally. I chose IABC as its Code of Ethics and Code of Conduct resonated with values I hold close and what I believe are equally important for our practice.  

What’s it like being a member-at-large?

It’s been a great learning experience that also comes with responsibility and commitment. I have enjoyed the exposure to wide and diverse thinking. But most of all, it has also been a very humbling experience working with great minds and thoughts leaders in our profession.

What is a typical day for you?

Given that we are going to be in the current situation for several more months, I will describe my here and now as typical. I’ve noticed that since the lockdown, I tend to get up a little later than before but go to bed much later. I try to begin my day with some form of online physical exercise after which I catch up with personal mails, have breakfast and get started with work. I’m pretty conscious of winding down work by evening and then it’s usually a walk around our block with my dog, catching up on some of my professional commitments and writing, watching snatches of a movie or reading a book. Many of my friends say I live life on roller skates, so the lockdown has had a calming influence on me, and I am quite enjoying it!    

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing communication professionals now and into the future?

I quote from a business magazine, “The cloud will lift, but the landscape will likely be different from the one we knew.” Given the times we are in, I think the biggest challenge for communication professionals is how to remain relevant in a very different world that will evolve from all that we are going through. We need to be think afresh and imagine how what we now know is likely to shape the world of tomorrow and, therefore, what we need to prepare for and do to be relevant and valued in the new future.

What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out in our profession?

For someone starting out now, there’s never been a time like now and hopefully there will never be one again in anyone’s lifetime. Use the opportunity to learn as much as you can from everyone around you and not just in your comfort zone of communications. Even from world leaders who, across countries, have demonstrated diverse styles of leadership and communication skills, offering great learning opportunities on what to do as also what not to do. Be curious. Ask questions, read, watch, listen.  There’s so much that is changing…go with it and enjoy the ride.