Interview with Prajit Arora Managing Director, Sentinel Business Centres

Interview conducted by Marie-Christine Tayah

 

  1. Where would you find a common ground between economy and philosophy?

Both require time to think and establish your own views on them.  They also involve a learning curve of failure and success.  One’s philosophy on life is not crystalized at 17, nor is one’s views on economy.  It’s a process of trial, error, success and reflection.  I think it’s interesting that many young people start out as socialists, and then later in life become more capitalistic or conservative.  Some things have a simple true or false aspect, but economy and philosophy are open to interpretation and are not scientific facts, thus one’s interpretation of them changes and evolves as one moves through life.

 

  1. How do you manage to maintain a healthy work–life balance?

It’s important to prioritize and decide when you are in work mode and when it is time to switch off.  This has always been my guiding principle in my work life and I try to impart the same principle to my team. Technology has now infringed upon personal and home life so much that there is no separation.  How many people say they are on holiday but check their emails? There is no ‘switch off’ or ‘down time’.   Sometimes I think I’m the only person out there who still doesn’t have email on my mobile phone.  There is a reason for this – I don’t need it.

 

Naturally if you’re running a company or in a very senior leadership position, you do have to keep abreast of things even when you’re out of the office and you do have to be reachable for emergencies.  If this means you check your email on your laptop in the morning for a few minutes before your day starts or you log on for a 15 or 30 minutes period in the afternoon, that is acceptable if it’s absolutely necessary.  But when you see people on holiday checking their phone email all day long while they’re lying by the pool then you know that they have lost the work-life balance a long time ago.

 

I prioritise spending time with my children and my family and I also invest a lot of time into my sports and fitness hobbies. Once you’ve established these as a priority, it’s easier to keep the balance.  Often you see people so bent on achieving goals that they don’t have the desire to keep up hobbies anymore and they don’t put any effort into spending time with their family. Then they blame work for not having enough time, but the truth is they never tried to prioritise anything other than work.

 

  1. Would you dare to rely on gut instinct in business decisions in an all-level fluctuating world like ours?

When you’re surrounded by chaos, often the only true compass is in fact gut instinct. Life experience and informed, educated choices are important but the truth is that I’ve always relied on my gut for business decisions.

 

  1. Could you guide us through the ‘head space’ concept?

Head space is a phrase I have coined for my own use to refer to keeping some balance in life.  It means having that off switch when you leave work to fully immerse yourself in something else whether it’s family life or sports.  You can’t have one part of your life carrying over into the other and maintain balance and calm. You end up with no space left in your head to enjoy anything fully.

 

  1. Could you tell us about your hobbies and in what ways do they push you forward in your business?

Sometimes people have different personas at work and at home.  This works for some people, but for others it’s their real persona that is what makes them successful or creative at work.

For me, I tend to have the same drive, commitment and measured hunger for success whether it’s at work or in sport. I train carefully, plot my path, and work out what needs to be done to win.  I evaluate myself and my performance carefully.  If I’ getting too stressed at work, and can’t focus, then I’ll slot in a yoga session to help me regain that mental sharpness. Similarly, if intense physical training and pushing myself isn’t helping me increase my speed, I will slot in a yoga class or a personal training session to work on balance and flexibility or faster muscle recovery so I can achieve my fitness target.

 

  1. What is the secret to managing a team in your opinion?

The secret is not to take anything personally. Team members do have to get along to a certain extent, but it’s important to remember that the goal is to deliver and meet targets.  Sometimes the most likeable team members just aren’t helping the team and aren’t getting the job done.  Other times, a fantastic employee just doesn’t get on with the team and is hindering their efforts even though he has the skills.

 

You have to be quite impartial and take responsibility for putting together a team that work well together and delivers. Whether you like individual team members or not is irrelevant.

 

  1. What would your message to women managers be?

I find that women are much better at keeping the life –work balance because they rarely allow themselves to de-prioritize their family life. My advice would be the same whether it’s to male or female managers: maintain that balance, trust your gut instinct and do things your own way as far as possible.  If your job and your career isn’t working out in a way that suits you, then change the rules and carve out a career and a role that does suit you and the way you like to work. 

 

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