All of us have a dream job that we want to pursue in an imaginary future, after we are done with our present job. Harshal Jain, 34, did not wait for that imaginary future. Jain is the head of network marketing at B4U movies, music and motion pictures. On weekdays, he is a manager and on weekends, he is a biomimic.

Biomimicry is a science that imitates nature, by studying patterns in nature, and uses them as inspiration for finding innovative solutions to problems.

The starting phase

Jain started working with biomimicry last year, after he went for a “tree appreciation walk" in Mumbai. “After seeing examples of how people have used nature to solve problems in different fields, I thought if I could make people aware that observing nature can help solve problems, there would be more sustainable and eco-friendly solutions around," he says.

Now, on weekends, he takes people for walks in national parks and forests like Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Kanheri Caves and Aarey forest. He has conducted 14 walks, each of which has 3-5 people. The walks are exploratory in format where he explains the concept of biomimicry replete with examples from nature. The participants are also encouraged to observe trees, plants, insects, birds and discuss problems in fields like marketing, law, architecture or communication for which they are seeking solutions in nature. He also guides people on how to solve these problems by directing them to experts like entomologists, ornithologists and botanists.

Going beyond

Jain is mostly self-taught, since biomimicry is a nascent subject in India. Most of his learning is through open source information available online. Jain is also making a curriculum for a biomimicry course for management and architecture institutes, as he feels that these two areas can benefit from it. “When a company is going through a loss, their first instinct is to fire people but if you incorporate the behaviour of ants and honey bees you might come to a different solution. They first control the damage and work out a rationing system," says Jain. He also gives the example of the design of the lead compartment in Japanese bullet trains that were modelled like the beaks of kingfisher bird to solve the problem of “tunnel boom" or loud noise they made when entering a tunnel.

Finding balance

Jain is from a family that believes in following hobbies. His father, Mayush, is passionate about collecting antique locks, cameras, manuscripts, and even used to do chalk carving while managing his pharmaceutical business .“My father is my true inspiration as I witnessed how he used to manage his business and his passion," says Jain.

The major issue in straddling both passions is time management. But, Jain says, “Passion and the will to give time to your second career are important qualities if you want to juggle two roles," says Jain. “I, genuinely, want to learn and make a difference and look at sustainable ways of solving so many problems around us."

Besides, respect for nature is the need of the hour and Jain has been fascinated by nature since his early days. His father pushed him to go for nature camps and do a leadership course in biodiversity at Bombay Natural History Society, 15 years ago.

The advantage

Pursuing two jobs simultaneously, also helps to connect different fields. Jain incorporates the teachings of biomimicry in his management practice too. “I use my learnings in the organizational set up, in communication, marketing and building my team."

He believes that his expertise in marketing will help him in future to promote biomimicry too. According to him, both careers support and complement each other, rather than taking away from each other. “Good division and management of time helps me balance both without disturbing either," he says. If there is work over the weekend for B4U, it takes precedence but he is back to biomimicry the next weekend.

On being asked by people about his multiple interests, Jain likes to quote Oscar Wilde. “We are not nouns, we are verbs."

I Lead a Double Life looks at individuals who balance two or more professions and how they do it.

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