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What CEOs Did While WFHing From learning new recipes to setting up new ventures, these CEOs made lemonade when life gave them lemons during the pandemic

By Shrabona Ghosh

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They are risk takers and go-getters. They were dealt a heavy blow by the pandemic but gave a stellar performance as an entrepreneur. Meet the chief executive officers (CEOs) who used the pandemic-induced lockdown to hone new skills. From culinary expertise to technical activity, they have aced it all.

"My family says I have become a much better cook with a lot more variety to offer on the plate. Pre-COVID-19, I was a good cook but now I have experimented a lot more. Cooking helps me express my creativity and I have enjoyed making many dishes over the last one-and-a -half years," said Amrit Acharya, CEO and co-founder, Zetwerk.

As the pandemic plagued the country, mental health issues also became a major concern. Confined within four walls, people started exploring ways to retain their sanity and in the process, some found solace in their long-lost passion.

Sunil Kataria, CEO, Godrej Consumer Products Limited (GCPL) for India and SAARC, reconnected with an old passion; something that was long lost. "I won't say I learned any new course or skill. However, I did something at a personal level. I went back to writing poetries, something I did years ago. I wrote a poem for my team in April 2020 that went on to become a favourite among my teammates. That poem was turned into a video by our team during the lockdown. It was a motivational message. In fact, our team in Africa liked it so much that their regional CEO wanted to draft it in the local language. I got reunited with an old passion," said Kataria.

Additionally, keeping in mind the mental health aspect of staff, GPCL officially came up with a support plan, where employees could reach out to any psychologist or any consultant.

During the lockdown, theatres, cinema halls, multiplexes, hotels and restaurants were all like vagabonds—not knowing what the future had in store for them. The sectors that once used to be stress busters were the most stressed then.

However, the CEOs of these sectors never gave up and came up with new ideas to rock again. One such CEO is Gautam Dutta, CEO, PVR Ltd. He used this time to work on new goals. "I enhanced my technical skills by being active on social media. I read a lot of motivational books, reached out to my friends and stayed connected through virtual means. Though I am a person who likes to meet people in person and create a heart to heart bond, I learned how to keep the attention of the viewers while delivering a presentation online. I read a lot of culinary books and experimented with new recipes. I spend time learning the new facets of training people and also helped in setting up the entrepreneurial venture of my wife," said Dutta.

The rising COVID-19 cases during the first and second wave led to the closure of gyms which came as a big bummer for fitness enthusiasts. However, it did not deter them from seizing the opportunity and practising fitness from home. Girish Mathrubootham, founder and CEO, Freshworks, used this time to dig deeper into physical transformation. "Fitness is important. Earlier, I could not make time for it. Now, I am utilising the opportunity and have successfully used it in physically transforming myself," he added.

Shrabona Ghosh

Correspondent

A journalist with a cosmopolitan mindset. I lead a project called 'Corporate Innovations' wherein I cover corporates across verticals and try to tell stories on innovations. Apart from this, I write industry pieces on FMCGs, auto, aviation, 5G and defense. 
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