Interview with Deepali Naair,CMO, Mahindra Holidays & Resorts India Ltd and Rajesh Nair, Talent Acquisition, Business HR for Corporate Tata Motors

Your success mantra to manage work-life balance

Deepali: One of the things that has helped us tremendously in managing our lives better is having a deep understanding of each other’s work demands. As professionals, both of us share a similar trajectory of work which includes moving from sales and marketing into business roles and managing other functions. He has moved into HR, while I have moved to business / e-commerce and customer service. Our professional growth has given us a clear understanding of the work demands associated with changes/transitions. We are also able to point out learning or knowledge enhancement opportunities for each other.

Rajesh: An important learning that we have had along the way is that of prioritization. This is an important mantra, be it in your career or your personal life. I often tell my colleagues that in our corporate roles, our professional commitments are constant but priorities are ever-changing and you juggle your priorities to achieve that singular goal. Similarly, in our personal life we realize that we may need to prioritize our job demands mutually, while ensuring that the interests of our family are not compromised.

Deepali: For instance, when I travel for work, my husband fills in at home for me and when he travels for work, I do the same. Like at work, technology plays an important role in our personal life as well. We are constantly connected, no matter which part of the world we are in. Joint decision-making and staying in touch with your home while being away is so much simpler these days. Being wired up, coupled with a mutual understanding and respect for each other also gives us ample time to develop our hobbies. My husband is a photography enthusiast and is fond of electronic gadgets. I, on the other hand, tend to explore the endless possibilities of social and digital media in my free-time – an interest that is not just rejuvenating in itself but also comes in handy at work.  

Board room strategies that you have borrowed from each other.

Rajesh: We completed our MBA together and our professional lives span over two decades, of which we have been married for twenty years. All our years of experience and togetherness have formed the bedrock of numerous learnings. Many of these are rooted in our personal experiences, a lot of them have been learnt by witnessing the circumstances of our colleagues over the years and a few more are the values of the various work-places that have been imbibed in our persona.

Deepali: People are key to success of any business strategy, organization or initiative; thus, while developing any strategy or business plan, human resources, talent and professional skill sets should be considered critical to its success. Another would be that technology is the biggest enabler both in personal and business life; thus any customer experience, product innovation or manufacturing efficiency needs to imbibe technology in today’s world. It needs to be future ready. Rajesh: Business is all about the ability to see the big picture, take risks and bet on the future. Measured risk taking, learning from failures and moving ahead is critical to grow both for an organization and individual teams.

Deepali: Market leadership and cost leadership is critical to ensure both topline and bottom-line business results. One without the other will not be helpful to any business in the long run. And lastly, preparation is the key to everything – a distant possibility may just be waiting to happen. So, Process + people + preparation = profit

How do you collaborate/inspire each other in your profession?

Deepali: We take pride in each other’s successes. My husband is a constant source of inspiration for me and this motivates me to give everything my best shot. At the organization that is our home, we share an equal partnership – constantly learning, motivating and inspiring our mutual growth and the progression in our lifestyles and careers. As someone once said, “you are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream”. This is the mantra that we live by, that has equipped both of us to experiment with numerous roles in our respective careers. Also, it is the support of our teams at work that enable us to push the boundaries and set new limits for innovating at work to delight our stakeholders.

Favourite topic of discussion at your dinner table? Rajesh: Our conversations at the dinner table are usually centered around our son. It usually ranges from discussing his exploits to his schoolwork to planning the next vacation with him. At times we also share amusing workplace stories keeping the conversation strictly non work related.

Deepali: Our son is also the source of great insights of the current generation. I am fascinated by the millennial generation – they have information at their fingertips, access the best of technology at the click of a button and know all about the choices they have. To stay relevant, brands need to modify their entire approach to doing business in accordance with the sensitivities of this generation. After all, they are the core of the next consumer generation.

Who has a last word on family vacations? Your memorable vacation and why?

Deepali: These days it is our son who has a final say in our family vacations. Being a ten year old (going on 11) he enjoys the right to make a decision on our travel destination. Our most recent trip was to Dubai with a friends’ family. It was a memorable trip as we relooked at the city from our son’s eyes. We partook in all the ‘touristy’ activities like the ATV riding at desert safari, sand duning in an SUV, snow pelting at Ski Dubai, view from the top of Burj Khalifa and shopping at IKEA. We bonded greatly as a family. It was also a pleasant revelation for me to know that generation Z enjoys outdoor activities as much as they treasure their Xboxes. Being in the travel and leisure industry, this was an important learning too.

Rajesh: Family vacations are a great time to not only bond but get away from work – the hustle bustle of the city and sitting back to think afresh and come back rejuvenated. As a close observer of consumers and people behaviour, every holiday helps in bringing back learning that make us better professionals at work.

Power Couple is a series initiated by Paul Writer featuring successful couples in the profession of marketing, media and advertising. 


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