Indiantelevision.com's Special Report

By HETAL ADESARA
(Posted on 8 April 2006
)

Women in television and media… a handful of them but all worth their salt. Most people know them for what they do in their respective fields but there's much more to them than just their work and the designations that come with it. A mother, a media buyer, a homemaker, a soap maker, a Gucci lover, an animal rights' activist, a producer, a journalist, a shopoholic, an entrepreneur, an ad sales head, a CEO, an auditor… they're all there… carving a niche for themselves and making their presence felt in boardrooms and studios, on-screen and off-screen. Whatever said and done, creativity runs in their blood. These Indian media power women have arrived and how.

In the first of the weekly series - Ms Media - 25 Women Who Matter - we have someone who felt she was giving an exam while answering our queries for this column. Hiding behind her serious professional appearance is a lady who is extremely passionate about animals. She's Lynn de Souza… the multi faceted media professional, author, tennis champ, a trained veterinary nurse and animal rights' activist… we could go on!

Lynn-opinion

Before going on to what the lady is all about… Let's take a dekkho at what she thinks she's all about!

A song by Whitney Houston best describes Lynn's life mantra

Well there's a bridge and there's a river that I still must cross
As I'm going on my journey
Oh, I might be lost

And there's a road I have to follow, a place I have to go
Well no-one told me just how to get there
But when I get there I'll know
Cuz I'm taking it

Step By Step, Bit by Bit,
Stone By Stone (Yeah), Brick by Brick (Oh, yeah)
Step By Step, Day By Day, Mile by Mile (ooh, ooh, ooh)

"I am a very intelligent person, and also more creative than most. I am also more perceptive than I would like to be. It's a Scorpio trait and when I was born both the Sun and the Ascendent were in Scorpio. So yes, my weakness is that I do have a nice sharp sting!!! I am an impatient person; impatient with humans, but very patient with animals! In my performance appraisal, I am always told to be less direct and more tactful, but then I don't know whether being brutally honest is a strength or a weakness! I believe I am also quite a compassionate fool."

Not a word more required to know her true mettle. Panache, threat, compassion and an impatience of sorts… it's all there in those words.

Lynn-formation

1, 2, 3... Mike testing... I'm ready to sting!

For the uninitiated, as far as the "designation" bit goes, this Goan heads Lintas Media Group as director and has been in the industry for more than two decades. Lynn is known for her outspoken nature, one who doesn't hesitate to call a spade, a spade.

She wishes she were 20 years younger so as to start all over again… but this time on the content side of the business as that's where all the action is going to be. "For the television and media industry, there are optimistic, positive, exciting, challenging and great times ahead," says Lynn.

An alumnus of the Jamnalal Bajaj Institute, she began her career in 1982 with a brief stint at Speer before spending five years at O&M, where she did planning and buying for brands like J&J, Asian Paints, Titan Watches and Unilever. Trikaya Grey (now Grey Worldwide) got added to her resume, where she joined as media director in 1988.

In this media business, which has become a huge scientific industry in the last few years, Lynn was an early bird entry. She's been credited with pioneering the concept and openly championing the cause of media buying, as an independent business in India, after training stints with Mediacom at London and Dusseldorf.

In this male dominated Indian society, women are now making their presence felt and in every walk of life. So how easy or difficult is it for a woman to be a top-notch professional? Lynn believes it's not that difficult. "This is an equal opportunity industry, much more than most. At one time, there were more women media directors than men, and people used to wonder why!" she says.

In an industry where there are more men than women, how does she face male dominance (if any)? "I don't face any challenges that men don't. As for male dominance, better you ask them how they fight female dominance! (If there is any, and I am sure there isn't!)," Lynn quips back.

Lynn with the Goa SPCA members

Come 1995 and Lynn moved yet again, this time to join the Lintas Group to start India's first media buying agency - Initiative Media. But a couple of years later, another vocation came a calling Lynn. She went Down Under (literally) to study veterinary nursing in 1998.

Lynn also founded and is the chairperson of the Goa Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), which is situated in "a beautiful peaceful corner of the earth called Torda" -- her ancestral village in Goa. Torda also houses Goa SPCA's veterinary hospital, which is Lynn's favourite getaway from work but at the same time is serious work too. She is an active life member and volunteer for several animal NGO's, and conducts workshops and awareness programs around the country in her capacity as a Master Trainer for the Animal Welfare Board of India.

Lynn-ventory

So what's on this versatile lady's inventory at present? Firstly, she wants to see the Lintas Media brand and its sub-brands "making a positive difference to the market in all aspects - from client service, to new media use, to talent development to rebuilding client respect for the work that media agencies do and the ethics that media professionals employ."

At the Goa SPCA workshop

Second thing on her agenda arises out of her love for animals. "I am driving expansion of the Goa SPCA's activities within Goa beyond what we do for ownerless animals - responsible pet ownership is practically non existent in that State and that's a new thing that we are working on," says Lynn.

Another pet peeve of Lynn's is the current television ratings system. She's made no bones about the fact in the media that the current ratings system is not up to the mark. And that with new emerging media platforms, the existing ratings system will become redundant. An active member of the Media Research User's Council (MRUC) Lynn has formed technical and business committees to act on the suggestions made by the industry for improving the TV ratings system. "I am keen on making a real difference to the state of TV audience measurement in this country despite some fairly stiff and below-the-belt opposition in this area," she stresses.

When asked about that special quality of hers which brought her to the position she is today, she cheekily replies - "Breathing."

Lynn-tertainment

Lynn with publisher Maneck Davar, Lintas' Prem Mehta, O&M's Piyush Pandey and her godchild Amanda at the release of her book 'A Dog's Life'

An avid lover of animals, Lynn took in a pet rat for company when she went to Australia to study for a year.

She has two homes, one in Mumbai and the other in Goa. In Mumbai, she lives with her parents. "My parents are in thier late seventies but pack in more energy and spirit than 20 of me!" Lynn says. Then she has her pets Gemma and Pixie. Gemma is an Afghan hound who she rescued a few years ago and Pixie is her 13 and a half year old pom.

Her passion is her pets and her day starts and ends with them. "Apart from my pets, the other thing that makes me tick are all the birds and animals we work with and help. I don't know how I could ever live without one of these creatures with me. Animals put our lives into perspective, they remind us that we do not own and control the earth, and never will," she philosophises.

What's more, Lynn is also an author and has to her credit a work of fiction - 'A Dog's Life', which was published two years ago. The book is a first person account of a mongrel and his mates, a touching story of friendship that crosses social boundaries. Now she's working on her second book, which is scheduled for release next year.

Phi-Lynn-thropist

Doing what she loves most

On being queried about her philanthropist efforts, she quickly replies that she's not as much a philanthropist as she would like to be. "I wish I could do more for less fortunate people, but I think there are already too many people doing that. So I choose to give a lot to the world of nature. Indians do very little for the animals, it's certainly not a popular cause to work for, and that's our society's short-sightedness," she says.

"Plus I always find that the people who say 'why do you work for animals when there are so many suffering humans?' are those who do nothing for humans either, whereas all those who work in human and social upliftment show a lot of compassion towards animals too," she reminisces.

On a concluding note, what this tough lady strongly believes in is that the means are always just as important, if not more, than the end. "I like to build rather than raid, to enjoy the fruits of my own efforts than feast on the efforts of others," she says.


(Please note that the order of appearance of women featured in this section is not a ranking or a countdown)

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