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Taking notes is underrated: Pankaj Jathar, Etsy

Pankaj Jathar, vice president and country head India of Etsy on how he delineates work time and family every day and his productivity principles

Pankaj Jathar, 49, Vice-President and Country Head India, Etsy
Pankaj Jathar, 49, Vice-President and Country Head India, Etsy (Courtesy Etsy)

Pankaj Jathar was working at Amazon India when the Etsy role came calling. He knew it was the perfect fit for him for two reasons. To start with, the idea of being involved in something that was beginning from scratch was exciting for him and Etsy was a brand that he associated with, so the decision was easy. He has been with Etsy for close to nine months now and it has been a good ride for Jathar, who loves motorbikes and long rides. 

The vice-president and the country head for India at Etsy, Jathar grew up in Mumbai and studied engineering in Pune. After getting his MBA from IIM Calcutta in 1998, his first job was with HCL, where he worked as an executive assistant. That was followed by stints in London with Birla Soft and Tata Interactive Systems. He moved back to India when he joined Accenture in 2006 and has been in Bengaluru ever since and speaks Kannada.       

Jathar is a firm believer in taking notes and joins our video meeting from New York with a note pad next to the screen and a pen in hand just in case I mention something noteworthy. He is a keen listener and his answers are well thought out, brief and to the point. He is patient and makes it a point to always prepare for meetings, a skill which he thinks is underrated these days.  

Also Read: Why Pearson's Giovanni Giovannelli is a strong advocate of reverse mentoring

In an interview with Lounge, he talks about how he delineates work time and family each and every day, why Shane Parish’s book Farnam Street and his podcast are gold for leaders, aspiring or otherwise, and his preferred way to wind down.

Who do you consider your mentor?

My manager at my previous firm, Amazon India, would be high on the list of mentors who have shaped my career. His management style of guiding through principles and trusting his team to carry their responsibility was something I have tried to imbibe. His nudges at different points in my journey helped to shape me into a better professional. 

One major insight you worked on with your mentor’s guidance?

Questioning my own analysis of a situation, asking myself if there is some other data I can consider to navigate a particular situation. Going by the same guidance, I also try to ensure my team has strong data and analytical capabilities.

What does being a mentor mean to you?

A mentor is someone who nudges and guides… someone who observes and gives very pointed and clear feedback on trends… who does not prescribe actions but points out potential instead. 

Describe your morning schedule?

On weekdays, I wake up at 6:30am and get in a good workout. This is followed by a healthy breakfast, usually dahi with seeds and nuts. On the days I’m home I like to brew my own tea and if I am traveling then I try to get a cup of coffee before I begin my day. 

Also Read: RESQ’s Neha Panchamiya and the power of her to-do list

What’s the one positive work routine you have developed during the pandemic?

During the early days of the pandemic, work and family time became very intertwined, with no respite. One of the things I was able to do was try to separate the two through a  ritualistic method of shutting my laptop lid at the end of the work-day and saying, “I’m done.” This little ritual tells my mind to make the switch. It has certainly helped with delineating work time from family time. 

Any book or podcast recommendations about mentorship and workplace growth?

For anyone in a management or leadership role, or aspiring to get there, I would definitely recommend Shane Parish’s Farnam Street. It’s a great read at any time. His podcast series is also very good and he has a weekly newsletter as well that one can subscribe to. I strongly resonate with it and feel that its incisive research quality exposes the reader to ideas that allow them to make better decisions and necessary improvements in their work life. 

Any serious hobbies?

I’m a motorbike enthusiast and riding my bike is my preferred way to wind down. On weekends when I get the opportunity, I put in a few miles on the machine. Bengaluru provides us with nice bike-able roads in all four directions. They are ideal for a pleasant breakfast ride in the early hours when there is not much traffic. 

Also Read: Why Sanjeev Barnwal of Meesho prefers morning meetings

What are some of the productivity principles you follow that have improved your professional and personal life?

Taking notes and preparing for meetings. I think it’s the most underrated yet simplest thing to do. I’m grateful that I learnt this very early on in my career, to always take notes and never go in for a meeting unprepared and I find this to hold me in good stead till today. 

How does Etsy connect with its target audience?

Our target audience includes people who share a passion for unique and handmade pieces, be it buyers who are looking for such items or sellers who are creating them. 

We interact with our audience through our digital channels, our owned event called The Etsy Collective, an initiative where we strive to establish a community of creative individuals, and our presence at various on-ground events, including the Jaipur Literature Festival.

Shrenik Avlani is a writer and editor, and the co-author of The Shivfit Way, a book on functional fitness

Monday Motivation is a series featuring founders, business leaders and creative individuals who tell us about the people they look up to and their work ethics.

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