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Neeraj Bahl on how simplicity can help productivity

Neeraj Bahl, MD and CEO, BSH Home Appliances, talks about his mentor, and why he doesn't believe in self-help books on mentorship

Neeraj Bahl cooks once a week with his family. 
Neeraj Bahl cooks once a week with his family.  (BSH Home Appliances)

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During the pandemic, Neeraj Bahl, MD and CEO, BSH Home Appliances, sharpened his culinary skills. This has brought his family even more closer. Bahl, who calls himself a “home appliance guy", has spent over two decades of his career in consumer electronics business. Before taking over the helm of BSH Home Appliances in 2019, Mumbai-based Bahl worked has worked with Panasonic India, Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics and Electrolux India. 

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A cricket-fan, Bahl speaks with Lounge about being a leader, why he emphasises on ‘keeping it simple’ and his idea of de-stressing. Edited excerpts.

Who do you consider your mentor? 

While many people have inspired my journey so far, KR Kim, the former MD of LG India, has had a lasting impact on me. I have always admired his vision, compassion and leadership style.  I have personally learnt a lot from him on how to be a successful CEO. 

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

I have closely followed (Kim's) words of wisdom and over the years it has helped me grow into the person I am today. You don’t need to necessarily be popular, all you need to be is transparent, upfront and passionate towards your team. Be true to yourself and to others — that’s the first and most important trait. Through my mentor, I learnt several unspoken traits of a good leader which, coupled with my ways of leading, have helped me in my journey so far. 

What does being a mentor mean to you? How do you mentor your colleagues at work? 

Being a mentor is a huge responsibility. It is about taking ownership of not just someone’s career but their overall growth. I have mentored (many) colleagues within as well as outside my organization. I believe, the key is to spend time with them personally to understand their thought processes, and vision and accordingly, give them actionable solutions and advice. People don’t always need direction. Sometimes, all they need is motivation and assurance to overcome their challenges. 

What are some of the productivity principles you follow?

Productivity is a result many aspects but the two key ingredients for me are clarity of thought and ability to breakdown complex problems into simple solutions. In our daily lives, we often complicate things for no reason and that’s what comes in the way of our productivity. Keep it simple, always! 

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What’s your morning routine like?

I am an early riser and one of the first things I do is sip my chai and read at least three newspapers before I go about the rest of my day.

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

I didn’t change or add anything to my existing work routine, as I managed to bounce back from the low phase of pandemic quite quickly. On the personal front, I did set a new routine of cooking once a week with my family, which is still in practice. We all enjoy that time together. 

Any book/podcast you would recommend about mentorship and workplace growth?

I believe mentorship is a very personal and innate quality that develops with experiences. No book or a podcast can teach you how to be a good mentor. 

How do you unwind? 

I am a sports enthusiast and love watching and playing all kinds of sports. My all-time favourite is cricket, and I love to watch the classic matches. I am also a movie buff. There’s nothing quite like a good action movie on a Friday evening.  

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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