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The work-life balance concept is a bit dated: Dhruv Agarwala,

Dhruv Agarwala, the CEO of REA India, on the role of a mentor, the advantages of a hybrid work style, and reflection over a leisurely morning coffee

In his role, Dhruv Agarwala believes that it sometimes becomes conflicting to be a mentor, so he tries to be a coach to colleagues at work.
In his role, Dhruv Agarwala believes that it sometimes becomes conflicting to be a mentor, so he tries to be a coach to colleagues at work. (Courtesy

In 2006, Dhruv Agarwala quit a secure corporate job to go the entrepreneurial way. The decision was instinctive, one that he made after taking stock of the things he wanted to achieve over the next decade. 

“I was at an organisation which was moving, and which I realised would keep moving, whether I showed up at work or not. On the other hand, I had the opportunity to build something from scratch, where I could see the impact of my actions and the value that I was creating on a daily basis. This excitement made it worthwhile since that first day,” he recalls.

Agarwala set his eyes on the disorganised real estate market in India and looked to put it in order by taking it digital. Today, he is the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer at REA India, the parent company to Housing, Proptiger and Makaan, that brings together buyers, sellers and brokers from across the country. 

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What they’ve managed over the years, since setting up Proptiger in 2012, is to simplify the entire process of owning property for the layman. For starters, they’ve streamlined the quality of information available to bridge the gap between the average home buyer, and developers and brokers who are well versed with the finer details. Through innovations in visual technology, they have made it possible to get a first look at properties from the comfort of the living room, before stepping out for a site visit. 

Since financial year 2021, and after the covid-19 slowdown, the sector has witnessed a revival of sorts, he says, expecting the demand for housing to be robust this year as well. Their recent product innovations that offer everything from personal loans to rental insurance will only facilitate this interest further for aspiring homeowners, he adds. 

In an interview with Lounge, Agarwala talks about the role of a mentor, the advantage of following a hybrid working model, and the space for reflection that his leisurely morning coffee provides. 

Who do you consider your mentor?

I have had several mentors along the way—my father, one of my bosses at General Electric, one of my venture capitalist investors. I also turn to some of my trusted friends, many of whom are more knowledgeable and skilled, for guidance and support.

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

I have looked up to them for their insights, experiences and advice to help me navigate challenges, make informed decisions and set goals. They have helped my understanding of situations by sharing a different perspective and helping me see things from different angles.

What does being a mentor mean to you?

As a mentor, I see my role as someone who serves as a sounding board for a person with less experience. It is important for me to be available to provide guidance and support when needed and share my perspective on my mentee’s particular situation. It is critical for a mentor to be vested in their mentee’s personal and professional development and hence time does not permit me to mentor too many people. 

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How do you mentor your colleagues at work?

In my role, it sometimes becomes conflicting to be a mentor but I do try and serve as a coach by providing feedback on what people’s blind spots are and how they could work on certain areas to grow both personally and professionally.

What’s your morning schedule like?

Within the first two hours of waking up, I ensure that I have done my reading, exercise and planning for the day ahead. I do enjoy a leisurely morning coffee as well while reflecting on the previous day—what went well and what could have gone better. 

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

My go-to productivity tool is the Eisenhower Matrix popularised by Stephen Covey. It is a time management tool that helps individuals prioritise tasks based on their urgency and importance.

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

Since the pandemic, we as an organisation have moved to a hybrid mode of working, which has had a positive impact on employee engagement and productivity. It has worked well for me by affording the flexibility to focus on my health and wellness, which has resulted in being more present and productive at work.

I feel that the (popular) concept of the work-life balance is a bit dated. We always talk about work and family balance; we never really speak about the self. I think if you are mentally and physically in a good state, you spread more positive energy at home. And if that’s taken care of, you are always more productive at work and can contribute more.  

Any book or podcast you would recommend about mentorship and growth?

I would sincerely recommend the Huberman Lab podcast. It is a great resource for working on improving brain function and physical health, and thereby increasing focus and productivity to help grow personally and professionally. 

How do you unwind? Do you pursue any serious hobbies?

I unfortunately don’t have a serious hobby but I enjoy reading, travelling and exercising. 

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.

Shail Desai is a Mumbai-based freelance writer.

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