After a “highly stressful” day job dealing with personal loans, mortgages, credit cards, perhaps the best way to de-stress would be by indulging in something that is not related to banking. Not for Mumbai-based Ravi Subramanian, 39, head, consumer assets division, HSBC India. He unwinds by immersing himself in a fictionalized world of chequebooks and balance sheets again. Subramanian has written three novels, with banking as the backdrop in all of them.
Pen friend: Ravi Subramanian heads consumer assets division, HSBC India, and is an author. Ashesh Shah / Mint
Being an author may not be a full-time second job for this banker, but it is one he enjoys as much as his banking job. “I find writing to be a great stress-buster. I normally write late at night, sometimes even from 11pm to 2am,” he says. His idea of after-work bliss? “An incomplete manuscript in my hand.”
Juggling two jobs (even if the second seems more of a hobby) can be taxing—there are deadlines to meet for both, schedules to juggle, and efficiency that could take a beating if you push any one of them down the priority ladder. Organizations, though, need to clearly define these differing universes employees inhabit, says K. Pandia Rajan, Ma Foi Group and Randstad India’s managing director. “There are three universes. One is of dual careers where the jobs the employee does in different organizations leads to conflict of interests and is also unethical. I would proactively ban it. The other universe is where an employee carries out an activity which is different from his area of work and, consequently, enhances his efficiency at work. I would encourage it. The third category is where an employee takes away energies from his job and transfers it to another job—for instance, a teacher who lends his expertise to another school or college and earns from it. He does not add anything to his present job. I would put a regulatory mechanism and stipulate the hours he can devote to this activity.”
Click here to listen to Yeshavini Ramaswamy, MD, E2E People Practices on the ethics of having two jobs at the same time
Pankaj Khanna, 30, regional head, Bloomberg UTV, has two assignments and each needs equal commitment. He teaches sales management, media planning and public relations at Mumbai’s Event Management Development Institute on weekends and looks forward to it because “there is a certain satisfaction in knowing that I’m shaping young minds”.
Managing two professions simultaneously is all about time management, says Anthony Coelho, 27. This trainer, customer service, DHL Express India, also owns a theatre production company, The Running Mile Theatre Productions, in Mumbai. “No matter what your day job is, there is always spare time. I enjoy writing scripts, acting and directing plays. And that’s why I continue working with theatre even though I am at DHL for eight hours daily,” says Coelho.
Shaping minds: Pankaj Khanna works with Bloomberg UTV and is a teacher. Abhijit Bhatlekar / Mint
Subramanian, Khanna and Coelho are just three of an ever-growing number of professionals taking out time from their busy schedules to indulge in pursuits that not only help hone their skills in fields other than their work area but also bring in extra money. Dual careers push personal boundaries for some and they emerge the better from it. Says N.S. Rajan, partner and global leader, human resources (HR) advisory, Ernst and Young, “It is an interest. The primary career of such individuals are their 9-5 jobs. No company can fault them, provided the work they do doesn’t clash with the company’s interests and doesn’t take the employee away from his work.”
Being passionate about two professions at the same time takes a lot in terms of striking the right work-life balance. And you have to bring the same positive values to both the jobs. Arkid Mitra, 24, a technical consultant who works with online marketing firm Windchimes Communications Pvt. Ltd during the day, is busy with Microreviews.org (set up by Mitra and his friends) after work. The website is an online Web solutions firm that promotes start-ups. Mitra believes that “without the right amount of dedication, neither profession will nourish or help fulfil your ambitions as an individual. You will not be fair to either job if you are distracted or undercommitted”.
Fair game: Arkid Mitra is a technical consultant and Web solutions expert. Abhijit Bhatlekar / Mint
All four men admit that the activities they chase after regular work hours lend clarity to their regular jobs. “When I am teaching students,” says Khanna, “I am sharing knowledge and practical experience of my work. To be able to answer the myriad questions put forth by them, I have to be on top of my job. This compels me to read widely on the subject, source information through discussions with other professionals. This helps enhance my knowledge and keeps me abreast with the latest developments in my weekday job.”
Adds Subramanian: “If I did not have a de-stresser such as writing novels, I would lose focus at work. One can become drab, dull and boring doing the same thing every day. Writing helps break the monotony.”
In fact, Khanna takes it a step further. He is always on the lookout for talent in the classroom and then brings it to the notice of his bosses at his office. “These talented kids can then be employed in the company where we need them,” he says.
Yet, people who pursue dual occupations quite often do so at the cost of their personal lives. “Nothing in life comes for free,” says Subramanian. “To make time for writing, one has to take time out from somewhere. Obviously, a fair amount of time that you spend with the family gets compromised. But my family has been very understanding and supportive.” Khanna, who has a two-year-old daughter, finds less time to spend with her. “I am busy during the week and on weekends my teaching keeps me occupied. But I don’t look at it negatively. I look forward to the weekends when there are no teaching assignments when I am able to spend time with my daughter and family.”
Life’s a stage: Anthony Coelho, trainer with DHL and theatre enthusiast. Abhijit Bhatlekar / Mint
Plus, in times of an economic downturn, an extra income can be a bonus. “That is purely incidental,” says Khanna. “When you do something out of love, money is not a consideration at all.” His earnings from the teaching assignments are in the Rs1,000-2,000 range. Subramanian says what he earns through writing is “reasonable but not significant compared to the salary at the workplace. I would write, irrespective of the money”. Mitra, however, gets “rarely paid. I am honing my skills when I or my team help other start-ups. We get paid Rs20,000 to Rs1 lakh depending on the projects and the nature of work”.
None of the firms these professionals work for wanted to go on record with regard to their HR policies on these individuals having a second source of income. However, the professional-cum-alternate-career-fulfilling individuals say their firms have no issues with it. “As long as what I do has no clash of interests with the company, the work is not done during office hours and does not affect the workplace, no company will have any problems with individuals devoting time to their passions,” says Khanna.
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