Lockdown Lessons: We need so little, and we want so much - Meenu Bagla

Meenu Bagla, Vice President & CMO, Cyient Ltd
Meenu Bagla, Vice President & CMO, Cyient Ltd

The year 2020 has taught us several harsh lessons. Barely had we entered a new year with renewed hopes and expectations, when the global COVID-19 pandemic jolted all of us out of our comfortable ‘Normal’ zone and flung us into an uncertain world. Terms like lockdown, social distancing, quarantine, work from home, new normal, unprecedented times and the dreaded ‘R’ word – Recession – have become a part and parcel of our daily lives.

India is just emerging out of an over two-month lockdown – a period that has changed our lives, behaviours and the way we conduct business forever. The lessons that we have learnt during the lockdown period and our experiences during the year so far, will help us navigate a world that we had never imagined. Adgully’s latest endeavour – Lockdown Lessons – is an attempt to present the key learnings that India’s business honchos have learnt and imbibed, and which can help the industry navigate the new normal better.

Meenu Bagla, Vice President & CMO, Cyient Ltd, writes about how she has kept herself gainfully engaged during the lockdown period and the valuable lessons that she learnt about life, work and money. She also switched jobs during the lockdown period.

What are the key lockdown lessons as a professional during the lockdown period?

My biggest takeaway from the lockdown is “when you cannot travel outside, travel inside”, and unlock your true potential. Without passion, profession becomes boring; without purpose, practice becomes mundane, and without practice, there is nothing called professional.

I followed my passion to read, design, craft, and create a new chapter of my professional life. From a philosophical view on humanity to the mystical, I read a diverse range of books to widen my perspective and not get constrained by immediate context – from ‘Jonathan Livingston Seagull’ by Richard Bach to ‘Sapiens’ by Yuval Harari and everything in between. I found time to tap into my passion for design and culinary arts and greenscaping, and helped brands like Nurturing Green through my stories. I was able to start my channel on Instagram, @theungourmetstories, which chronicles exciting recipes from my family and around the world that I have cooked and photographed.

I advised multiple start-ups on LEAN marketing and how to keep the brand alive during these times. I also explored new ways of communicating with stakeholders, conducted social media training workshops for parents of teens and tweens for a reputed school in Noida, and assisted NGOs in community support. And yes, I did what many others were scared to do – changed jobs during the lockdown, and joined Cyient as CMO.

Please tell us some of the key takeaways in terms of life lessons from the lockdown period?

One of the biggest life lessons for me has been that “we need so little, and we want so much”. Quiet mornings, healthy plants, fresh air, close friends, a loving family, and an argumentative teenage son is all that I needed to make my lockdown experience fulfilling. And yet, we run after so many THINGS and miss out on experiences.

How did you manage and achieve work-life balance while working from home?

I have always found the balance in ‘work-life integration’. As humans, we are not programmed to compartmentalise our lives. Experience from work has an impact and influence on the personal life and vice versa. But when we have meaningful relationships in both places, it can positively impact our attitude, mood, and reactions to even adverse events around us.

Secondly, I learned to FLY (first love yourself). I took out time and space to follow my passion and nurture relationships with loved ones. And most importantly, I made time to look after my health – holistic health.

It has been more than two months since the lockdown was enforced. How are you gearing up for back to office mode?

The lockdown period has been quite interesting to me. In addition to making adjustments to how I work, I also switched jobs and took over as the CMO at Cyient. At Cyient, as we prepare for the resumption of normal services, all our efforts are geared towards creating a safe work environment for associates all across Cyient premises. In addition to physical safety, we are also looking at innovative ways to engage with our associates and customers to reassure them of our continued efforts to support them.

Any lessons that you picked up in financial management from the lockdown period?

Cash is king – it is as simple as that. Many of us who locked up our money in fixed assets were not able to help those in need even when we wanted. Many borrowed too much and are stuck; others missed on looking at their balance sheets all this while. It again ties back to my learning of “we need so little, and we want so much.”

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