Managing the Numbers and Managing the Self

By Ashoke Ghosh

Sports has been my passion right from my childhood days. It has played a key role in my career as it helped me to remain stress free in any given situation. As Director of Corporate Finance, my work requires a sense of urgency and involves critical issues which require my undivided attention. There are no fixed timings as such and moreover, there is plenty of work which requires long hours. But my lifelong passion for sports has helped me through such situations in my three decade long career.

Me with my team mates. Sudipto Dey had turned in a good performance at an Apeejay Surrendra Challenge Trophy match

I have been an avid soccer player and swimmer right from my childhood days. But, like any other middle class Bengali household, there was a lot of pressure on me for performing well in exams. Hence, I had no other option but to keep it at bay.

All of us go to the games! Me with our Chairman Mr Karan Paul during another Apeejay employee sporting event

After completing my studies when I started working, I made it a priority to keep my passion for sports alive by reigniting my childhood passion for soccer. I took up rowing in 1996 out of a sheer passion for sports. I used to wake up at 5.30 am and go for an hour of rowing before heading off to work. Soon, I became drawn to this sport and remained an avid rower for the next seven and a half years. Discipline is the key to any sports and as it is for all kinds of success. The discipline to practice a skill is not about perfection it is about how hard you can try to improve yourself. I was the only member of the Lake Club, Kolkata, who trained for each day during the first six months and reached the senior level in a very short time!

Me with team members and Ms Priya Paul as we kicked off the 50th years celebration of The Park Hotels from Group Headquarters on Nov 1 , 2017.

In 2008, I started playing tennis regularly. Tennis is one sport which closely resembles life as compared to other individual sports. It is not about trying to reach a finish line the fastest that matters but it is about constantly critiquing your own game and simultaneously responding to your opponent’s moves.  Playing tennis has taught me a lot about myself when it comes to inner strength, discipline, tenacity and mastery of emotions.

Individual Social Responsibility Program which Apeejay Surrendra Corporate Services owns and runs is a project close to my heart. Here I am at the convocation ceremony of 1st batch of students taught by our volunteers in conjunction with mjunction, a joint venture between Indian steel giants Tata Steel and SAIL. I am here alongside our former CTO and then head volunteer for the project, Mr Subhashish Saha. We gave out the certificates alongwith Mr Viresh Oberoi, the then Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of m junction (not in picture)

A typical work day for me would start around 9.30 am and go on till 8 pm, sometimes an hour more, depending on my commitments. But, I managed to achieve a balance between my work and my passion for sports by taking out time for tennis every day. I have been playing tennis for close to 12 years now, every morning at 5.30 am, five to six days a week and have been fortunate enough to have been associated with various clubs and associations who have helped me in nurturing my passion for sports.

Team members and I with Ms Priya Paul raising a toast to Flurys on its 90th birthday!

I have managed to pass on my passion for sports to my two daughters, Sayani and Soumini. Sayani is currently associated with the School of Veterinary Science, Massey University, New Zealand, as a virology technician and lab manager. At the age of six, she had to undergo an open heart surgery. I remember, the doctor had told me then that “Your daughter is very tough.” When she decided to pursue higher studies abroad, both her mother and I were skeptical about whether she would be able to cope in the new environment since she had never stayed out of her home, let alone live in a foreign country. We were visibly moved at her transformation as she not only adjusted to the trials and tribulations of living in a new country but also actively started participating in various kinds of outdoor sports.

Me with my wife and our two daughters on a vacation in New Zealand

She has been an active participant in various types of sports like tennis, kayaking as well as surfing, and is one of the few international students in her university to take part in triathlons. All these three sports require tremendous physical and mental tenacity. She is also a very good squash player. Since she had undergone an open heart surgery at a very young age, it was both a pleasant shock and a wonderful surprise for my wife and me to realize that she could put her body through such strenuous physical activities and shine! Do read about her story in The Telegraph newspaper in this link

No matter how fit you are, time is scarce. I was trolled by my team mates a few years ago and was awarded the ‘ No time’ anti-mantle at a Group gathering where such so called ‘fun awards’ were being given out. Made to wear the T Shirt on stage by my team mates with my favourite dialogue “Somai Nai” printed on was a learning moment for me! Suffices to say I have stopped using that bengali phrase since I was so ‘awarded’ in 2013 🙂 and now I work hard to make time for everything !

My advice to the younger generation would be to make it a habit to make sports a part of life as it helps in creating a sportsman spirit which in turn helps in coping with the day-to-day pressures of work and creates a healthier work life balance. I always encourage my subordinates and peers in office to take up some kind of sports despite their busy schedules because I know that it will pay rich dividends in the future.

Me with HODs from Shipping, Insurance, Corporate Services, Typhoo Tea at the Group Annual Picnic 2019 with our cool quotient fully on !

So as far as I am concerned, I am still a work in progress, constantly analyzing my weaknesses and strengths and adjusting my game at balancing my work and passion for sports. Its not too easy , nor is it too tough but fitness is my key to all changes I want to make!

Ashoke Ghosh is Director – Finance, Apeejay Surrendra Group

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