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My mentors have shaped my thinking, stretched my abilities: Chandramohan Mehra

Chandramohan Mehra of Bajaj Allianz Life Insurance on what his mentors taught him, why he creates a to-do list every morning, and more

Chandramohan Mehra, 48, Chief Marketing Officer, Bajaj Allianz Life Insurance Company.
Chandramohan Mehra, 48, Chief Marketing Officer, Bajaj Allianz Life Insurance Company. (Courtesy Bajaj Allianz Life Insurance)

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A tall, fit looking man in a tailored long sleeve shirt and sharp dark trousers stands up and silently waves as I walk into a coffee shop in Pune’s Koregoan Park. Despite having exchanged plenty of texts and calls over several years, this was the first time Chandramohan Mehra and I were in the same city at the same time and both wanted to meet, at the very least, as fellow runners. 

Mehra, the 48-year-old chief marketing officer of Bajaj Allianz Life Insurance Company, is as serious about running as he is about his work, so much so that he has arranged his life such that neither is hampered by the other. When we met he was heading to Iceland to run a marathon and on the first weekend of March he was in Tokyo, running the Tokyo Marathon, one of the six World Marathon Majors races; his short-term goal is to run all six races and win the Abbott World Marathon Majors medal.

A BITS, Pilani, engineering graduate, Mehra started his career in advertising in Mumbai before making the move to marketing after an MBA from INSEAD. Mehra splits his time between Pune, where he works from Monday to Friday, and Mumbai, where he spends the weekends with his wife and teenaged son.

Mehra, who also enjoys driving good cars, speaks to Lounge about his mentors, what they taught him, why he creates a to-do list every morning and why he wakes up at 4:30am.

Who do you consider your mentor?

Through my career journey from advertising to marketing to business, I have worked with some of the sharpest minds. Late Pankaj Mridul, D Ramakrishna and Ambi Parmeswaran at FCB Ulka, MN Rao at SBI Life and, currently, Tarun Chugh at Bajaj Allianz Life Insurance Company. All have shaped my thinking and trusted and stretched my abilities.

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

All my mentors demonstrated by living the value of humility and keeping the essence of “human” in leadership intact even while being fiercely competitive.

What does being a mentor mean to you?

A strong sounding board combined with a deep understanding of core and context of mentees or teams is a prerequisite for effective mentorship. I emphasise that my team have an holistic approach, giving their best on the work, health and family/relationships fronts.

Describe your morning schedule.

I wake up at 4:30am, complete pre-run nutrition, foam roll and dynamic stretches and hit the road by 5:30am for running and related workouts for almost 2 hours. Between 7:30am and 9am, I read newspapers and browse online news, emails and WhatsApp and eat breakfast before I start driving to work.

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

Taking micro breaks over chai or coffee to chat and connect with teams which is all about banter and laughter. It’s an effective de-stressor and allows for understanding of each others’ core and context. More often, it generates solutions and ideas pertaining to a challenging task at hand.

Any book or podcast recommendations about mentorship and workplace growth?

I would recommend the sports documentary The Last Dance which is about [the basketball team] Chicago Bulls’ journey of winning six NBA titles. It provides insightful lessons on the creation of a dream team, Michael Jordan’s hyper-competitive streak and coach Phil Jackson’s role towards building inclusive team dynamics for unusual personalities like [Dennis] Rodman and [Scottie] Pippen.

Any serious hobbies?

I enjoy running. And all the related activities — strength workouts, nutrition, rest for marathon races. I love the small details of the prep process as it keeps me disciplined and sustains the intensity of training.

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

Every day, I create a comprehensive “to do list” of all work and off-work tasks, regardless of how mundane each task might be. It allows me to prioritise and plan. It drives efficiency and also allows for “me time” and ideation sessions, which I enjoy the most.

Would you pick insurance for yourself based on the marketing campaign or the fine print?

The purchase decision journey is a sum of multiple experiences, which is certainly influenced by marketing in combination with several interventions.

What do you look for when choosing an insurance product for yourself or family?

Brand credibility which gives me the confidence that it will meet obligations to my family when I am not around.

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

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

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