Pallavi Barman, who has a B Tech in computers, could easily have been coding at one of the Indian IT majors, but that didn’t really interest her. Brands and fashion was her interest right from the beginning and she is one of the few doing exactly what she likes—running one India’s most recognisable athleisure brands, HRX, as its business head.
Barman came to Mumbai in 2010 and after stints with various brands including Reliance Brands joined HRX where she started in marketing and, thanks to her wide interest and work ethic, quickly moved through ranks to become its business head. While at HRX, she also founded LAP Ventures, which handles brand and business building for new fashion and beauty brands such as Kapiva.
It might seem like the 38-year-old’s hands are quite full but work is just half her story. She is a mother of two and is extremely serious about her fitness. Her mornings are reserved for her two kids and no work can disrupt that. The school run is as important as her job.
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In between all this she finds time to exercise and run five to six times a week and also reads a lot. She leads many fitness initiatives at HRX, including the company’s cycling group. Barman, who holds an MBA in marketing and communication, speaks to Lounge about how she learns from everything and everyone, the importance of being a good listener and why online shopping is a gift to herself.
Who do you consider your mentor?
I am an active learner and I see sources of knowledge everywhere. Naming one person as a mentor will not do justice to what I have learnt from the sagacious. I have had access to the leadership at Myntra, Cure.fit, Noise (I mean you can easily decode the names…) and each of these gentlemen (no lady thus far) have added immense value to my growth and learning. Apart from the eminent names in business, my colleagues, my fitness trainer, my partners… all throw a lot to absorb from on a daily basis.
In a nutshell, consistent self learning from all the possible channels where information resides, being porous and activating right filters to convert the correct information into knowledge helps in my evolution.
One major insight you worked on with your mentor's guidance?
Throwing caution to the norms and going by instinct and gut. Also, aiming to achieve the ultimate balance between people and processes.
What does being a mentor mean to you? How do you mentor your colleagues at work?
A mentor needs to be a good listener and have the ability to nudge [people] in the right direction and not direct per se.
That’s what I do with my team members… guiding them, not solving their issues… understanding where they stand in their professional journey vis-a-vis their personal spaces.
What's your morning schedule like?
Wake up time ideally is 5:45 am although the exact time is dictated by my two children. After that, three things have to be accomplished as a part of my morning rituals — drinking ample water on an empty stomach, oil pulling and making my bed.
Rest of the morning is committed to my children. On a school day there are a number of things to be done before I drop them off to their respective schools. If it’s a holiday, then we devise various ways of engaging ourselves while learning new things in the activities we do together.
I manage to snatch, on an average, 40-45 minutes for a rigorous fitness routine five to six times a week between all the school runs, painting, baking, etc.
What's the one positive work routine you have developed during the pandemic?
Awareness through reading and keeping in touch with various partners… the modern day relationship management that it is.
Any book/podcast you would recommend about mentorship and growth?
Books by Simon Sinek and Brene Brown. I usually tune into Joe Rogan while running. Each episode has been enriching. On odd days, I listen to Tim Ferriss or TEDx.
How do you unwind? Any serious hobbies?
I read. I also watch Turkish shows on YouTube as my absolute guilty pleasure. Cooking and baking are my most coveted exercises for drowning lethargy or exhaustion.
What are some of the productivity principles you follow that have made your professional and personal life much easier?
Immaculate planning. I almost end up planning my day the previous night or while I set out to run and train. Thereafter, it is simply following the schedule.
Team first. The first half of my day is dedicated to catching up with the team that fronts the work. To discuss things and equip them with the arsenal for riding through the day precedes all others. Once they are ready and free of any dependency on me, I steer my day towards my meetings and thinking.
Dump what is not adding any value to personal or professional life.
Given your career in fashion brands, what's one office wear rule you follow?
Dress to kill in sky high heels. I love the clickety-clack of my heels on the office floor.
What is your golden rule for shopping?
I love online shopping. It’s like a gift to myself. I am a firm believer in self appreciation, by the way. I scan the catalogue, select and keep what I like in the cart. I revisit it when I need to reward myself and purchase… that’s my sustenance cycle. I buy what catches my eye in the first go, i.e. what I can visualise myself wearing or adorning as I see it. If something needs to be contemplated about then it ain’t impressive enough.
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.