Saturday, February 16, 2013

India Inc CEOs hop between cities to maintain work-life balance

India Inc CEOs hop between cities to maintain work-life balance

MUMBAI: A phone call each every morning and evening to his wife and kids, another call or two if there is a pressing situation, and a few minutes on Skype to help the children with homework - that's what Vivek Gambhir's family life looks like from Monday to Friday.
Gambhir, the MD-designate of the Rs 6000-crore Godrej Consumer Products works out of the sprawling Vikhroli campus in Mumbai. His wife and three children live in Delhi. But he hops across to the national capital every weekend when it's all family and no work.
He is part of a growing tribe of India Inc honchos who have split their life into two distinct boxes - work during the week in one city and live with family in another city over the weekend.
Birla Retail's business director Pranab Barua and Jyothy Labs joint MD Ullas Kamath both work in Mumbai and live in Bangalore. S Raghunandan, CEO and director of Jyothy Labs, shuttles from Mumbai to his home in Ahmedabad.
Similarly, heads of private equity companies such as Puneet Bhatia of TPG and Neeraj Bharadwaj of Carlyle India live in Delhi and work in Mumbai. At ICICI Bank, Rahul Vora, senior general manager of private banking division, lives out of Trident Hotel in Mumbai and joins his family in Singapore over weekends.
Shaily Gupta, group head of human resources at Edelweiss Capital, a broking company, stays in Mumbai while her husband and daughter live in Singapore. Thomas Kuehl, director of corporate strategy at Volkswagen India, is based in Mumbai and his family is settled in Bangalore. Kuehl travels to Bangalore almost all weekends.

Says Shaily, who travels every fourth week to Singapore to be with her family: "I have found my comfort zones in this lifestyle, but managing two infrastructures in different countries can be challenging. Then there is also the emotional aspect of not having your family around."
HR consultants say hundreds of executives in India Inc choose to move to another city for exciting jobs and better pay without uprooting families comfortably settled in their home base. Some, including even family members perhaps, may see this as a curse; but such CEOs see this as a calling.
And, they are figuring out how to pursue their career in one city and live life in another.
"Initially, when I had to settle in Mumbai and leave my family in Ahmedabad, I was afraid of separation pangs," says S Raghunandan, former MD of Reckitt Benckiser India and now CEO of Jyothy-Henkel. "But now, I have settled comfortably into a routine. I leave for home every Friday evening, though I do keep an eye on my work on the laptop since work really doesn't stop."
Some organisations support this since it also ensures improved productivity at the workplace, industry officials say. "When I am in Mumbai, I am fully focused on work. So, my productivity is higher," says Gambhir. "But it's not need a supportive family and a supportive boss."
Roopika, Gambhir's wife, says the family has adapted to his lifestyle. "On weekends, we say no to every other socialising to be with each other as a family. That is our priority. The hardest part is when the children fall sick, that's when we miss him most," she says.

 The Economic Times, Mumbai 15th February, 2013


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