The 100-hr man
Rahul Bhasin, 42
Managing director, Barring Private Equity Partners India
Married, with two children aged 12 and 6
Works 16-19 hours a day, six days a week
“Only inefficient people work long hours. Smart people work less, and work better,” is Rahul Bhasin’s comeback on how average Indians work longer hours than their global counterparts. But the man himself does a double shift at work every day. Bhasin, the managing director of a leading private equity group in India that manages assets worth $275 million (about Rs1,100 crore), works 16-19 hours a day; he gets up at 4.30am everyday, is usually in office between 7am and 8am and calls it a day after midnight. He tries to keep off work on Sundays, but at times, there are “things that need immediate attention and can’t be put off even for a day” and he ends up working on Sundays as well. Incidentally, Bhasin also travels a lot within and outside the country. He certainly works very long hours and it’s not because he is inefficient.
Baring stands invested in more than a dozen companies, including MphasiS BFL Software Ltd, Slashsupport.com, Maples Technologies and Secova, and Bhasin himself sits on the boards of at least 10 of these. “Most of our companies either have global operations or are expanding globally. So there are teams that work in different time-zones. And, more often than not, I have to get up early or stay up late for tele-conferences with them,” says Bhasin. While Bhasin’s work schedule seems quite taxing, he isn’t complaining. “A balance between work and life is essential, and I do try hard to spend quality time with my family (he has a daughter aged 12 and a son aged 6); and devote some time to personal interests, but I just can’t complain about the amount of work I do,” says Bhasin. “That’s simply because I love my job. My work gives me a great sense of fulfilment.” Bhasin says his team and he are helping many enterprising, hard-working and deserving entrepreneurs realize their goals and “that’s what eggs me on”.
Hooked to BlackBerry
APURVA PUROHIT, 41
CEO, Radio City 91.1 FM
Married, with a 13-year-old son
Works 8-10 hours a day, five days a week
Apurva Purohit’s life has been in the fast-forward mode for the past five years. A former advertising and media specialist, Purohit jumped the fence in 2002 to join Zee Telefilms as its president and ever since, she has been in the media business. “Life was never easy as an advertising professional, but it became a bit too challenging and hectic ever since I moved to the media business and that, too, in leadership roles,” says Purohit.
Like the previous venture that she helped launch—Zoom TV, the niche channel of Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd—Radio City is also comparatively a new operation. While the channel runs 24x7 and employees work eight-hour days, five days a week, Purohit says that for her, work never stops. “While I don’t go to the office on the weekends, my BlackBerry never stops buzzing. I am always on the phone either answering calls or sending emails,” she says. Does she rue the frenzied pace of life and the lack of time for her family and herself? “No and yes!” she says. “Media and entertainment have become my passion. Work is great fun, so I don’t regret the pressures of my job. But, yes, I do feel guilty for letting work overtake my personal life,” she says. Purohit says she feels the pinch the most when her son complains that he doesn’t get quality time with her because she never switches off from work. “Work and personal life should be balanced, which is something that I currently lack and regret.”
DEEP KALRA, 37
Founder & CEO, MakeMyTrip.com
Married with a son aged 5 and a daughter aged 7
Works 8-9 hours a day, five days a week
For Deep Kalra, work is a means to an end. He runs a successful travel portal, MakeMyTrip.com, which he had launched in 2000 with a small personal investment. Last year, the company clocked in Rs560 crore in the value of tickets and hotel stays sold, and Kalra expects MakeMyTrip to be a Rs1,100-crore venture by the close of the current year. The company today employs 700 people and runs 24x7.
Yet, Kalra doesn’t seem like a man in hurry. Work accounts only for eight hours of his day. MakeMyTrip works five days a week, and employees are encouraged to leave soon after their shift ends. “I like to reach home before my children go to bed, and I encourage my team to do the same. Happy employees work better,” says the 37-year-old CEO.
“Indeed, work is an important aspect of our life, but it shouldn’t be allowed to encroach upon our personal lives. Family, friends and the self have a right on our time,” he says. But then, life was not always so balanced for Kalra.
There was a phase when he worked “round the clock”. Launching MakeMyTrip and seeing it through the dot-com bust did take its toll on his time and saw him work 24x7 with no weekends whatsoever. The six-day week routine became possible only two years later, and the five-day week was introduced two months ago.
“Every business goes through a particular life-cycle. Indeed, when we started seven years ago, work was the primary focus. But now, both the business and life have stabilized. And I love the balance I have been able to bring about in my life,” says Kalra.