Prioritise and plan ahead of time to prevent burnout: Ragini Hariharan, Himalaya Wellness

As per Ragini Hariharan, marketing director - personal care and hygiene, Himalaya Wellness, with a lot of new trends, platforms, and the constant pressure on the business front, prioritising helps in understanding on doing a few things perfectly than taking up everything on the platter.

By  Kashmeera SambamurthyJun 22, 2024 5:53 PM
Prioritise and plan ahead of time to prevent burnout: Ragini Hariharan, Himalaya Wellness
"I think everybody in corporate life is marred by back to back meetings which is a huge productivity killer. So, over the years, I have realised there is a very simple hack which is to make sure that before I accept a meeting or even send a meeting invite, I always take a moment to clarify what is the objective of the meeting. Is it for brainstorming? Is it for decision making? Or is it just to update?," explained Ragini Hariharan, marketing director - personal care and hygiene, Himalaya Wellness.

For Ragini Hariharan, marketing director - personal care and hygiene, Himalaya Wellness, planning and setting priorities in advance and in place is a helpful tool to avoid burnout. According to her, though last minute work is unavoidable and 30 percent of it will always be there, the remaining we are in-charge of.

She explained, “Many times, we are bogged down with work because we've not planned our month and week and day in advance. There's so much happening, especially nowadays in marketing, with all the new trends, platforms, and constant pressure of business. So, always prioritise. In that prioritisation, realise that doing a few things well is always better than doing everything.”

Edited Excerpts

The creator economy has taken the world by storm. Which influencers and trends are you following?

On the work front, I keep an eye on quite a few beauty creators. Some of them create really amazing content on YouTube and Instagram where they are always on top of the latest trends and techniques. Sustainability is also one of those causes that I deeply care about.

I follow some of these influencers who have some really interesting conversations about seed to shelf approaches and responsible consumption. I think that also helps us innovate further and find ways to minimise as a company and our organisation environmental footprint.

Personally, I am a huge cricket fan and follow players like Smriti Mandhana. She's a role model for young athletes, especially young girls. One of my daughters has just started playing cricket. Hence, I find it quite interesting to share with her about how Smriti is doing at different parts of her journey.

On a day-to-day basis, I use a couple of channels that I subscribe to, particularly for my health and fitness. I try to mix up my workouts in different ways just to keep it interesting. My children love anything to do with craft. Hence, I follow a lot of craft tutorials on Instagram.

What marketing related content do you consume in your free time?

I mostly follow a lot of content which helps me be sharp on marketing trends and get the cultural pulse of the country of where it is going. Hence, on the industry side, I follow experts like Frederic Fernandez (Frederic Fernandez & Associates), which helps me stay on top of the ever evolving FMCG landscape.

I also consume a lot of these research papers from top researchers which provide insights into how the market is shifting, how the economy is moving, and how consumer behaviours are changing. I actively engage with a lot of content from A&M (advertising and marketing) publications like Storyboard18 and others.

A lot of articles and newsletters that I subscribe to have become my early morning read. Because it's just good to know what's happening in the world of marketing and with the world of AI evolving so rapidly. Often, I get a lot of good insights on some new practices and best practices on what experiments different organisations are doing in the marketing landscape.

I continue to follow the work of a lot of the marketing gurus like Byron Sharp, David Aaker and Mark Ritson. I follow them on LinkedIn because their insights on brand differentiation and mental availability are always invaluable for crafting marketing strategies on a day-to-day basis.

And last but not the least, a lot of my friends are into marketing and business. Hence, exchanging ideas and experiences with them is always insightful.

There's a lot of talk about burnout, workplace toxicity and hustle culture. What steps have you taken to avoid the adverse impact of the always-on culture on yourself and your colleagues? What is your advice?

At Himalaya Wellness Company, the culture is driven by passion rather than pressure. Because it's an organisation which recognises that one is spending one third of their time in office. Therefore, there needs to be a work life balance.

There are principles which involve people leadership, interaction and teamwork followed by risk taking. All of these are principles by which the organisation goes by.

I manage quite a big team and a lot of categories right from face cleansing, face care, hair care, oral care, skin care and personal hygiene followed by a young brand named 'Party Smart'.

Because it's such a big team, there's always a lot going on. Hence, I have built over the last eight months a very flat hierarchy in my team.

I continue to keep a very open door policy. I'm approachable to my team all the time, whether it's in the office or on calls. I have built in a culture of quarterly offsites. These are the times that we take to not only talk about strategy, but also help to add some team bonding.

I think my team now feels comfortable approaching me with challenges and concerns. Because, all of this creates a very safe space for honest dialogue.

But, for new folks who are joining a new organisation or looking to switch, first and foremost, understand the culture of the place and see if it fits within your value system. Second, know your objectives for the month.

Many times, we are bogged down with work because we've not planned our month and week and day in advance. Planning really helps and knowing your objective in advance and planning towards it helps.

There is always going to be 30 percent last minute work, but at least 70 percent you are in control of. There's so much happening, especially now, in marketing, with all the new trends, platforms, and constant pressure of business, where one cannot do everything. So, always prioritise. In that prioritisation, realise that doing a few things well is always better than doing everything.

Is there any sport or fitness routine you practise to steal a few minutes of me-time?

I've been a huge sports person since college days. Sports for me is a way to switch gears, get some much needed mental downtime throughout the week.

I try to play tennis at least three times a week. The rest of the days, I love going down for a walk while listening to some podcasts. Weekends, we also try to spend a lot of time outdoors.

It is one of the big reasons I moved to Bangalore which has lovely weather. Hence, we spend a lot of time outside with kids either cycling adventures or having walks outside.

What does your weekend look like?

Weekend for me is all about recharging and spending quality time with my family. The time with family is non-negotiable for me over weekends. We prioritise things that we can do together. We can do a lot of fun activities, board games.

Occasionally, I watch a movie. I get the time to catch a movie over the weekend. But most importantly, I always dedicate some portion of my weekend to expand my knowledge. This could be either reading a book or a lot of articles on different topics. Most of these topics are a lot more about other industries and how the broader economy is doing. Or sometimes, just to understand some of the other economies and how they are building.

Share one work hack and one life hack you swear by

I think everybody in corporate life is marred by back to back meetings which is a huge productivity killer. So, over the years, I have realised there is a very simple hack which is to make sure that before I accept a meeting or even send a meeting invite, I always take a moment to clarify what is the objective of the meeting. Is it for brainstorming? Is it for decision making? Or is it just to update?

Once you clarify, everybody is more prepared to come prepared accordingly for that meeting. It keeps the discussion really focused and effective and efficient.

Having been in Bombay and Bangalore for a long time, commuting takes away a lot of the personal time.

Hence, my personal hack is to use that travel time very wisely. I often take a few meetings especially with external partners and agencies while on the way to work or on the way back from work. I also use that time to listen to some educational podcasts on marketing trends and industry news etc.

Once in a while, I use that time to also catch up with friends who I have not caught up with in a long time. It just frees up a massive amount of time for me throughout the day.

What are you reading? Any recommendations?

Currently, I am reading a lot of children's books. My daughter has read some 16-book series by Roald Dahl. So, we are reading a few of them together.

But if you ask me about recommendations, I love Atomic Habit by James Clear. It provides practical tips on how to build good habits, and how to break out of bad ones. Reading it is like a breeze because it is a very engaging writing style. But more than reading, I actually love listening to books.

I listen to the CMO podcasts by Jim Stengel (former P&G chief marketing officer) very often. It features interviews from top marketing leaders globally offering very valuable insights into how the marketing landscape is evolving.

Not only in India, not only in specific categories, it is like cross categories, cross markets. I also love Deepak Jayaraman's Play to Potential. It has conversations around topics like leadership, transparency, transition and careers.

It also breaks down the podcast into small nuggets. So depending on how much time I have, sometimes I go through the entire conversation, sometimes I just pick up nuggets which are relevant for me for that week, month or so on.

What are you watching or streaming this weekend?

Most of the time, I love watching snackable content. So Friends is my go-to. But this weekend, I am hoping to catch up on a movie which I have been waiting for a long time - Laapataa Ladies.

A piece of wisdom you would like to share?

I think the most important thing is to build the right team, build the right culture, lead the team in the right way and I think once that is there, the results will follow.

First Published on Jun 22, 2024 8:07 AM

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