by Sudipto Dey
Being part of Apeejay gives me time to pursue a full life out of office. Our decision to announce the working day falling between weekends and scheduled holidays as an off day was a major change which encouraged many employees to pre-plan family vacations well in advance and was as big a change as transitioning to a five-day work week some years back. Make no mistake! It is not as if we don’t work on weekends! We do. In the third weekend of last month, I participated in a long distance run, along with my 2 daughters and wife, to create awareness for education of the underprivileged.
Earlier, I had also participated in a Cyclation – cycling for a social cause. Running, football, swimming, trekking and cycling are interests that I carry over from my school days and still indulge in, while going for long road trips I have picked up after marriage and kids. I find it a fascinating way to introduce my daughters to the many destinations in our country and to spend some valuable time concentrating on a goal that is completely unrelated to their education or my work.
I have been a core member of Apeejay’s football team ever since I joined as a senior manager in 2008. When I look back today as General Manager – Taxation and Chief Financial Officer of Apeejay Infralogistics which is pretty hard work, I feel a deep sense of satisfaction of having been able to carve out time for playing up to 4 football tournaments annually against the teams of many corporates from Kolkata.
My greatest moment of glory came when our Group became Runners Up in the Silver Plate in both CC&FC 5-a-side Corporate Football Tournament in 2015 and at Parsee Club Corporate Football Tournament in 2017. I have also played in Apeejay Surrendra Challenge Trophy, our inter-company football tournament comprising teams of various companies of the Group.
Self- discipline and goal setting, that one must practice to be successful in sports, are useful tools at work too. Sports teach us that reaching a goal is hard work and taking advice from others or working in a team keep us on track and these are valuable insights at work, especially in my kind of work. I have substantial work pressure throughout the year overseeing Income Tax and Indirect Taxes for over 50 entities across the Group. The pressure reaches its peak in September when IT returns are filed and in December when IT assessments are done. Recently, I have been entrusted with an additional responsibility at Apeejay Infralogistics where my job is to manage the entire finance and accounts of the logistics vertical of the Group. The biggest challenge for me, so far, has been the implementation of GST across all the companies of the Group, especially in Apeejay Tea which has a huge volume of operation and is spread over vast geographical territories across India. Physical activities act as a great stress-buster for me as it rejuvenates me from the stress associated with professional work and gives me energy – both mental and physical – to excel in various fronts of life. I have also found time out to volunteer for social causes such as teaching street children. A session on tax benefit conducted by me for senior citizens at Dignity Foundation, which was attended by 30 elderly people, was an eye opener on what kind of good I could do with my knowledge. The session on personal taxation and investment for the employees of Apeejay Group at HO and at the Gardens had also benefited many employees.
Innovation and working to a plan are my tools at work which I use on my road trips and often don’t really differentiate where I first learnt to use these tools – at work or outside work – they are so much a part of who I am today. In 2015, I had taken a long vacation for a 21-day road trip to Ladakh from Kolkata with my family and it required lots and lots of planning, especially since I was the only driver with no other male member accompanying us at a time when the country was rocked with the Nirbhaya episode. We drove for over 7000 kms through temperatures that ranged from 40-450C to minus 5-60C covering some of the most beautiful terrains of nearly eight states – West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar, UP, Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Jammu & Kashmir!
After that, I have taken my family on road trips to Sikkim and Madhya Pradesh. In 2018, we planned something different – reaching Annapurna Base Camp in Nepal. I thought that a combination of trekking and driving in the mountains would be quite challenging. We set out from Kolkata in my Honda BRV and reached Pokhara in Nepal in 3 days, driving through plains and steep mountain roads. The next destination was Khimchi from where we reached Ghandruk which is 6,300 feet above sea level. This was the starting point of our trek. After trekking for 5 days through strenuous terrains and steps, we reached Annapurna Base Camp at 13,500 feet. Majestic views of the mighty Mt. Machhpuchre and the Annapurna ranges under a deep blue clear sky were our prize! The sunrise and sunset (a rarity) on the majestic snow-clad mountains were simply mesmerizing. After another 3 days of trek, we were back in Pokhara where I had planned some adventurous para-gliding for me and the family. The mountain flight we took at Kathmandu gives you an aerial view of the majestic Himalayas at a very close range and takes you really near Mt. Everest. Finally, we drove down back home to Kolkata from Kathmandu.
As you can see, I would have been able to do none of it if work-life balance and fun wasn’t a value at work encouraged at Apeejay. This year I completed 10 continuous years at Apeejay and will receive the Long Service Award next month! Consistently fortunate to get supportive boss and colleagues, who have become like a family, has encouraged me at every step to excel at work as well as carry forward my passion and interests. I pay it all back bringing a fit me to the strenuous and stressful work that our finance team has. Here’s hoping for a very fit adventurous 2019 for the 48 year old me!
Sudipto Dey is General Manager – Taxation and Chief Financial Officer of Apeejay Infralogistics