No matter how busy his schedule is Rajesh Ramakrishnan, managing director, Perfetti Van Melle India (PVMI), makes time to nurture interests outside of work. It keeps me energized, he believes. Gurugram-based Ramakrishnan took over the mantle of leading the confectionary company in 2018.
With nearly two-and-a-half decades of experience, Ramakrishnan has worked as head of Perfetti Van Melle’s Bangladesh operations, Apollo Tyres, PepsiCo, Marico and Reckitt and Benckiser among others. The 53-year-old also runs an initiative called My Daughter is Precious, started in 2015, that creates awareness bout gender equality and girls' education.
Ramakrishnan speak with Lounge about a productivity hack he learnt during the pandemic, lessons from his mentors, and looking forward to innovation in sustainable packaging.
Who do you consider your mentor?
I have had quite a few mentors over the course of my career, some of them have been my bosses, some of them have been outside of my company. I have learnt something useful from each one of them during my interactions with them.
One major insight you worked on with a mentor's guidance?
I learnt the importance and art of networking and pre-alignment from one of my previous bosses at PepsiCo, which stands me in good stead even today. I also learnt about the key do’s and don’ts for a general manager from another of my mentors whom I got in touch with when I got my first role as a general manager, and that helped me settle well into a challenging role.
What does being a mentor mean to you? How do you mentor your colleagues at work?
To me, a mentor is someone who is able to encourage you to look at issues/ problems from multiple perspectives, and thereby, come to a more holistic and well-thought through solution. A mentor is able to share their perspectives based on their rich and diverse experience, and this can then help the mentee navigate through their situation in a better manner.
I mentor colleagues at work in a formal and informal manner to help them broaden their perspective and enable them to find their own solutions. I have also been mentoring people outside of my organization for the last 10 years.
What's your morning schedule after waking up?
On weekdays, I wake up around 6 am, I have my cup of tea, and then get ready for my yoga practice. I practice yoga every weekday for 75 minutes and this gets me ready to face the day. I then have breakfast and am usually in office by 9.15 am. On weekends, I get up a little late around 7.30 am, and go for a morning walk.
What's the one positive work routine you have developed during the pandemic?
Thanks to the pandemic, I have started having shorter, more focused meetings which significantly enhance the productivity of the meeting. There has also been an increased discipline around the start and end timings of meetings.
Any book/ podcast you would recommend about mentorship and workplace growth?
I like Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck, which talks about growth mindset. It explains the idea that we can grow our brain's capacity to learn and to solve problems. This has helped me actively seek solutions to problems in both my personal and professional space.
Another book that I found useful is Atomic Habits by James Clear. It is a simple and practical book, which clearly articulates how you can build good habits one step at a time. I have used this to further build on some good habits for myself.
How do you unwind? Do you pursue any serious hobbies?
I have quite a few passions outside of work that I pursue quite seriously. I find that these passions help me destress and energize me to do my work more effectively. Photography has been a passion for the last two decades. It not only helps me to unwind, but it has made me be more creative in my approach to work related issues and also made me seek out new experiences.
Trekking is another passion, and over the last six years, I have been on treks to Everest base camp, Mount Kilimanjaro, Annapurna base camp, Spiti valley and Markha valley. It is a great way to get out of my comfort zone and be one with nature.
What are some of the productivity principles you follow?
Besides having shorter meetings, I also ensure that I take stretch breaks between meetings. I pursue my passions, which keep me fresh and energized and enable to do my work in a better manner.
An innovation in the food industry you are looking forward to?
One innovation that would be exciting is if we are able to find a viable solution to plastic packaging. The plastic is required to protect the product over its shelf life, yet it causes damage to the environment. It would be great to have a technically and commercially feasible solution which is eco-friendly.
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.