#PowerWomen: Look at Yourself as Formidable and Strong; Don’t Compare with Anyone - Lydia Buthello

Industry Watch | February 19, 2021 | Interview

Lydia Buthello Jio World Centre PowerWomen EVENTFAQS Media

Continuing the EVENTFAQS #PowerWomen series in the run-up to International Women’s Day on March 8, we talk to Lydia Buthello, Head of Events at Jio World Centre, about her journey in the events industry.

In the course of her career, Buthello has donned multiple hats. With specialties in sports events, league operations and entertainment, television production, game shows, non-fiction shows, television events, ground events, activation, project management, ticketing and brand experience, she is responsible for having developed brands from their inception to a position of market leadership today.

At Jio World, Buthello spearheads all events; planning and executing various large scale events across the board for Reliance. Here, she shares insights on her entry into the events industry, challenges she faces, position of women in the industry, priorities at work, advice for young women entering the events sector and more.

HOW I CAME TO BE IN THE EVENTS INDUSTRY

I was a little over 17 when I came to Bombay. At that time, I was doing door-to-door salesmanship for a company called Impact. Then, I became an Executive assistant at Channel V, and got inducted into the world of media. Post it, I joined UTV where my first tryst with production happened, and rounds with the team for ad films. I came back to Channel V again, this time as an associate producer, and started producing a show called Late Night V. I was also a VJ manager, managing talent and doing a lot of live shows across cities, travelling with the VJs and handling a bit of the production, understanding what live shows mean. It gave me a taste of the world of events. To see the crowds go crazy was a different high. I then moved to a company called Fremantle, to head the Bombay office, and produced game shows like Family Fortunes, Pictionary and Khulja Sim Sim. But then, the company had to fold up as people were not watching game shows and it was not doing well. I had a goal – I needed to get a house of my own, a car of my own, which meant that I had to get a job. A friend of mine introduced me to art director Chetna Prabhu, who had just done the film ‘Dil Chahta Hai’ and needed an assistant. I joined her for a couple of months and did ‘Saathiya’ as an assistant art director, getting exposure to the film world. At that time, Channel V came back again, and asked me to become the production manager of their first reality show called Channel V Popstars. I realized that I wanted to do production, but I was also clear that I wanted to be in the events world with broadcast as well. It was not only events on ground, so the option of going and joining an agency never came to my mind was because inherently I had media as a background. Plus, I had done all these different kinds of jobs of talent management, so I could be a good project manager. By the time I became the event director for Zee Cine Awards Dubai, I was seasoned, but of course, it was the first time that I was going out of the country and managing an event of this scale. I remained in Dubai and did a lot of events there, and then came back and joined Zee again, as events head. From Zee, I went to Star and 12 years later, I joined Reliance.

ON POSITION OF WOMEN IN THE INDUSTRY

There are multiple issues - be it for a female or male - in the events industry. I am thankful that I got equal opportunities. I actually went with a mindset that everybody's equal, and I'm doing an equal amount of hard work. But if I look at it from the perspective of the kids that are there today, and the people that I work with, yes, there is a slight difference between men and women and the way they put their work forward. There are certain skewed roles that we are very clear that only the boys will do versus the girls. If you're going into rural markets and doing events there, it’s clear that you can't send a woman to do that job. We may want to be equal but unfortunately, our country is not as equal yet. But in the urban areas, I don't see a problem - there are equal opportunities.

ADVICE FOR YOUNG WOMEN ENTERING THE EVENTS INDUSTRY

A woman who wants to come into this industry must look at herself as formidable and strong, and must not compare herself with anyone - just do her job, do it well, be organized. The minute you start comparing yourself to other people, it is your downfall. Also, setting a goal is most important; it will help anybody and everybody.

ON SAFETY PROTOCOLS AND GROWTH AT JIO

I can't comment on the Jio World Centre opening because that's a confidential matter, but we're working towards it. Jio World Centre is very particular about safety of employees. We do a COVID test literally every week, we do an antibody test every month. If you're going on site, you could do a COVID test twice or thrice depending on who you're meeting and what you're doing. A PPE kit is given, along with proper shoes. There is no safer environment to work than at the Jio World Centre. We do as few meetings as possible on ground. But now, we've slowly started with the Jio World Drive where the Green Co-Op has started every weekend, with stringent rules for consumers who come in. Staff working there are tested over and over again and sanitized.

I joined Reliance because the scale at which they operate no one in this country can at the moment. Jio world centre is a state of the art venue and its potential is something different. The projects that Nita Ambani & Isha Ambani have envisioned and planned is outstanding. I wouldn't have ever got the opportunity to work on anything like these projects; and soon, we'll get to know about them. That by itself is humongous growth for me. At Star, I had stagnated and needed to do something completely different. I don't see growth in the matter of designation; I see growth only in the projects that I do. The bigger the project, the more different, bigger a learning curve for me. Every day, I'm learning something new.

WHAT I AM LOOKING FORWARD TO

Personally, for me, it's ensuring that I bring a certain value add to the table. I need my potential to be explored and grown. There is no other place that I could probably fly better than here. The kind of potential that this place holds, there is much more that I can learn and give towards the space. It gives me wings to fly.

A HISTORICAL EVENT I WOULD LIKE TO WITNESS LIVE

There is no particular one, I seriously don't want to miss out on any one single historical event. I want to be there for all!

Continuing the EVENTFAQS #PowerWomen series in the run-up to International Women’s Day on March 8, we talk to Lydia Buthello, Head of Events at Jio World Centre, about her journey in the events indust

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