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Ambareesh Murty, chief executive officer of Pepperfry says trekking teaches him and his team lessons about teamwork and collaboration.
Ambareesh Murty, chief executive officer of Pepperfry says trekking teaches him and his team lessons about teamwork and collaboration.

This entrepreneur scales peaks with staff to build camaraderie in workplace

  • The passion to travel dwindled over the years as Ambareesh Murty, the chief executive of furniture marketplace Pepperfry, took up his first job at 23
  • Despite the frenetic pace of a startup, Murty allows himself two holidays a year, of which one is reserved for a trek

Digital detox, rejuvenation and nostalgia are some of the most significant reasons why people travel. For Ambareesh Murty, the chief executive of furniture marketplace Pepperfry, nostalgia trumps the other two by a large margin.

“Sometimes nostalgia about the past can fortify a relationship with the present. Simply put, travel takes me back to great times spent on the road with my parents as a child. I feel that has defined the way I travel now," says Murty.

He says he was fortunate to get a headstart on travel, “thanks to my parents’ enthusiasm about exploring the country". They would not only travel within India but also abroad.

“There was always a sense of pride in and awareness of my roots. I remember a customs official asking me where I was from when I was seven years old. My reply was ‘proudly Indian’," says Murty, now 48. “Looks like the bond with the country was pretty unshakable then, even though it was never meant to be posturing."

The passion to travel dwindled over the years as Murty took up his first job at 23. There was never any bandwidth, time or extra money to splurge. “I remember getting right back to work after the weekend I got married," he says. But that changed when Murty was on a professional trip to South Africa and decided to stop in the Egypt for a week.

The once experienced thrill of exploring new destinations got a fresh lease of life. “I had less than $200 in my pocket, and I was determined to make it stretch for the week. Cheap accommodation, common Egyptian baths and an appetite to see the country rather than eat, came handy. The excitement to travel was back and has since turned to near devotion for the outdoors," says Murty.

He says he is partial to the hills. Despite the frenetic pace of a startup, Murty allows himself two holidays a year, of which one is reserved for a trek.

“The other is a wistful ode to the mountains but from a beach or a place that my wife approves of," laughs Murty. He has hiked across several mountain trails in the lower and upper reaches of the Himalayas, including the challenging chadar across the frozen river in Ladakh’s Zanskar Valley in winter.

“Every lung-busting hike has been deeply satisfying. I like the contrast of the simplicity of local life and the grand views. The lack of luxury makes things real," says Murty.

He has done both solo and group treks and says he has found a great community within Pepperfry. “It has been serendipitous to find numerous trekking enthusiasts within our company," he says.

Ambareesh Murty, chief executive officer of Pepperfry
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Ambareesh Murty, chief executive officer of Pepperfry

The sense of camaraderie that grows when they’re out on the trail translates into positive energy back at the office as well, he says. Implicit collaboration, cohesiveness and teamwork are by-products of peaks scaled together. At the office too, there is a sense of the mountains not being far away: all the board rooms are named after passes the team has scaled.

“If the mountains seem close enough in the office, the office is not too far away when we’re in the mountains either. I’m not ashamed of carrying my laptop for treks," says Murty.

Having trekked through the Kangra Valley, and reached high-altitude passes at elevation of over 5,000 metres in Ladakh, Murty has now set his sights on 7,000m-plus peaks. “It’s not only a function of fitness but also willpower and mental strength. Having done so many treks now, I want to raise the stakes," says Murty. “Besides, it’s a great time to introduce my seven-year-old son to the joys of trekking. After all, I was the same age when I fell in love with travelling."

On the Road highlights the lessons industry leaders have learnt through their travels.


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