Priyanka Gill interview© HelloIndia

Priyanka Gill On Leading A Company With Unicorn Status & More

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Shraddha Chowdhury

Priyanka Gill leads a giant company that hit unicorn status last year — all while pursuing an MBA, living between cities, anchoring a podcast, juggling her kids’ studies and empowering women through a unique platform. HELLO! gets down to business with this superwoman!

 HELLO!: You founded two platforms, co-founded two others and are the CEO of Good Media. At which point did you feel you had achieved the kind of success you dreamed of? 

PG: “Success is always a moving goal. When you work for years on end, the journey becomes more important. As long as you enjoy what you do, it’ll feel like you’re on the right path. I remember when we started POPxo, even 500 people visiting the website felt like high traffic. We now have 215 million monthly active users across our Good Media platforms. So the target’s always shifting; it only becomes more enjoyable and interesting. Right now, I enjoy what I do, and that’s what really matters.”

H!: As CEO of a significant media house, what kind of impact do you hope to have? 

PG: “We’re a lifestyle company and try our best to make sure our content empowering, positive and fun. It’s both a privilege and a huge responsibility that we have platforms like POPxo and Tweak within our portfolio because it gives us access to 250 million users. It’s our responsibility to help our users become the best version of themselves. So, while it’s not our job to tell them what or who they should be, we try to help them get there. In fact, we think of ways to boost a sense of positivity and build values that matter to us, like inclusivity and body positivity. We do this with a sense of humour to make our content more relatable and engage our audience. We also try to build a great working environment, so everyone enjoys what they do. Hopefully, that reflects in our content.”

H!: POPxo recently released its powerful women list of 2023. How would you describe a powerful woman?

PG: “Such lists are a great form of validation that gives readers people to look up to. I strongly believe one can’t be who they can’t see. Shining the spotlight on women who are doing very well inspires other women who read about them. It makes them feel like they have it in them, too. But ultimately, every woman who’s striving to be the best she can is doing it from a place of power and must be celebrated. We look up to women who own this power and try to better themselves in whichever way they can.

Roles are always imposed upon women. We are told how to be a mother, a wife, a sister, a best friend, an employee… I say we tune the world out and decide for ourselves. Once you make that choice, it becomes easier to make your own decisions because now, you’re choosing your own path, not one the world’s chosen for you.”

H!: Who’s the one woman or man you look up to?

PG: “It’s extremely hard to pick one person. I’ve looked up to many people at different points of my life. I find inspiration in nearly everyone I meet because each has their own story with high points of their life. If I had to name one person, there’s Vani Kola. She was my first investor and has been such a great mentor to me. She’s one of the biggest female investors in the sea of male names in the industry in India. Then there’s Falguni Nayar, too. To start a company at 50, take it to an IPO and generate that kind of wealth is hugely inspirational. And Harpreet Chandi, a British-born Indian woman who recently became the first woman of colour to complete a solo trek to the South Pole. So you see, it’s not hard to find inspiration when you constantly look for it.”

H!: We’re curious about the repeated use of ‘XO’ in the names of platforms you’re associated with…

PG: “It’s a coincidence! I actually didn’t realise it until now. The inspiration for CXXO — the platform for women’s empowerment I founded with Kalaari Capital to #LevelThePlayingField — came from ‘CEO’ and the ‘XX’ chromosome. But you’re right. ‘XO’ does follow me to different places!”

H!: How much does your background in journalism add to your current work? 

PG: “Everything I am today is because I was trained to think logically, look at things critically, communicate better, be articulate and write well. Whether it’s putting together an investor deck, a marketing campaign or even a content strategy, these skills come in handy. All of it is thanks to how I was trained at Lady Shri Ram College in New Delhi and my experience writing for different publications. We use the power of words to tell a story on every front.”

H!: Given your involvement in the beauty industry, do you see standards changing, in terms of acceptance of textured skin, varied complexions, blemishes...?

PG: “Consumer demand leads business, and they have surely changed. It’s this demand for better that’s been the catalyst beauty producers needed. Users today look for clean, sustainable beauty products, ones that don’t have any added nasties or were tested on animals. It became clear that the beauty industry had to change. And we’ve done so happily, haven’t we? This need for change also aligned with our own values. All in all, we’re much more aware as producers and a lot more connected to users. It’s a win-win on both sides.”

H!: Give us an insight into life with your family. How you spend time together and the things you do in your downtime…

PG: “I live between Delhi and London, where the kids go to school now. It’s been super busy for years, so it’s become our normal way of life. Our home life, too, is equally hectic. My son turned 17 and my daughter is 12. Our weekends are sacrosanct, where we spend time together and do small things as a family, like head out to eat, check out a play, or watch something on television. It’s nice to be able to do these different things for some family downtime.

I love reading. It brings a semblance of sanity to my day, especially if I’m travelling or on holiday. And when I’m not reading, I watch everything that’s on OTT. Plus, I need to workout every day, even if it’s for a short 15-20 minutes, because on the days I don’t, I feel a huge drop in energy.”

H!: What does 2023 look like for you? 

PG: “We’re looking at our IPO in 2024-25, so there’s a lot going on towards ensuring that we have all systems in place. I just launched a podcast titled ‘Dream Build Scale’ with Spotify. I’m in the process of closing a book deal, which will take up a lot of my time in the coming months. And we’re looking to build our business in beauty products. Besides all of this, it’s regular programming at work. On the personal front, I just got my MBA from Columbia University, and my son will soon start with his college applications.”

H!: And finally, your advice to women seeking success in entrepreneurship. 

PG: “This is my general advice to women: you’re only limited by your own beliefs. We often start by assuming we can’t do something; that’s where the problem lies. When you let go of these restrictive blinders, we can pretty much do what we set our mind to. So just go for it! I’ve now been an entrepreneur for over 10 years. It’s because I simply refused to say no or give up that I’m here speaking with you now!”

This has been adapted for the web from a story originally published in the April 2023 issue of HELLO! India. Get our copy of the latest issue right here!