How does one sum up a year? For me, this practice of summing up the year has usually been taken in the form of recounting the highlights of what went on and what I think will happen in the years to come. So I guess I’ll have to stick with a tried and tested formula.
On the Professional Front
It was a surprisingly decent year for me on the professional front for both my jobs. The PR front proved to be surprisingly good.
The most prominent of feature on the PR consultancy front was IIMPact 2013: New Frontiers, the bi-annual gathering of the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Alumni in Singapore. The event was exceedingly high-profile – as with the previous year’s IIT event, the patron was Singapore’s former President, Mr SR Nathan.
Press coverage was glorious. As well as hitting the local press, I managed to get coverage in the main Indian Dailies as well as in places like the Huffington Post. What success I did achieve was through the good work of journalists like Gautam Srinivasan of Reuters TV, Gurdip Singh of Press Trust India (PTI), Anand Menon of Bloomberg and Sharanjit Leyl of the BBC.
As with all PR events, IIMPact was very much about the newsmakers, of which the most important was Dr Raghuram Rajan, who was then Chief Economic Advisor to the Indian Government and before the year was out he would become Governor of the Reserve Bank of India. It was my privilege to serve Dr Rajan and for that day I had the honour of witnessing his sharp intellect and wisdom
One of the best things about work is its social aspects. I got the IIMPact job in the same way I got PAN IIT before it – on the recommendation of Supriyo Sircar the SBU Head of Polaris Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa Business for Polaris Financial Technologies. Supriyo has been a good friend and his advocacy of my behalf has been one of the few assets that I’ve had.
I also had the privilege of working with Anu Stamtani. Anu is a dream to work with. Her energy and charm have a way of working magic when it comes to events. She is a good friend who always finds ways of making life easy for other people. It was she who made my job at IIMPact easy in terms of logistics support.
As well as renewing old friendships, I managed to make new friends. I am currently working with Suresh Shankar and Hari Haran, two entrepreneurs who are looking at ways to create a different and better world. Suresh has is set on simplifying the world of big data with her new firm, Crayon Data and Hari is set to help the poorer parts of world deal with one of their key problems – lack of energy.
The most important friendship that I gained from IIMPact 2013 is probably that of its Organising Committee Chairman, Girija Pande, the Chairman of Apex-Avalon and the former Chairman of Tata Consultancy Services Asia-Pacific. At IIMPact 2013, Girija provided encouragement and reminded me of a lesson that few of us seem to understand – bosses and clients are an asset to be utlised. Girija was generous in his time and effort to throw contacts behind me. I will also never forget his main encouragement to me – “Don’t wait for things – you are as good as anyone of us.”
In a funny way, the other main professional highlight was for a job that I didn’t get to work on – the South Asian Diaspora Conference (SADC 2013), which was organized by the Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS).
I didn’t get the job – it went to an international agency – Webber Shandwick. But funnily enough, I was actually in the running for it. ISAS, is a part of the National University of Singapore, a government body, which normally doesn’t entertain one-man operations. Yet, the Chairman of ISAS, Ambassador Gopinath Pillai took the time out to listen to me.
A source tells me that I owe this honour of being a one-man show being allowed to present a case to the government body to Girija Pande, who sits on the board of ISAS.
My blue collar persona at Bruno’s had a good year too. I was made the acting manager of the Pizzeria and Grill for a week in early February when the manager of the day went on leave. The success (or the lack of a disaster) was thanks to the team, particularly my service team who provided me with the support that I needed – including watching my back and reminding me that I needed to do things like ensure wines were ordered and we would well supplied for the Chinese New Year season.
I’ve now moved to the quieter Bistrot on Telok Kurau Road, where I’ve had the chance to help boost the turn over. In this year, the team has managed to double revenue from the year before and we are looking forward to doing better next year.
On the Personal Front.
No big trips this year, other than a short family holiday in August. My mother, the perpetual mastermind of family affairs managed to get all of us from various parts of the world galvanized into traveling between Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand.
Cambodia was perhaps the most interesting of the three countries. It was the glory of the Angkor Wat followed by the horror of Tul Salang Genocide Museum – a visit that made the vast human energy of Vietnam all the more welcoming.
It’s good to touch base with family and the people who love you no matter what stupid things you do.
My Dad went through his hernia operation at the end of August and has since recovered. Took me out for lunch for my birthday.
The other key moment on the personal front has been the chance to get to know Thuy as a growing woman much better. I often joke with friends that Thuy is God’s way of making me pay for my previous misdeeds with the opposite sex. Thuy retorts that she’s too sensible to get into trouble – I do worry.
She starts a new chapter of her life on the second when she enrolls into Outram Secondary School. I’ve told her that she needs to get her academics right – it will make life easier. Mother is always in the background ready to enforce regular tuition.
It’s challenging managing a growing teen, who is still a child but an adult with ideas of what she wants. However, the challenges of having a child (I use that term loosely – she tells me that she protects me) in your life has a way of giving it purpose. Whenever I find work annoying I’m reminded that while I can live with the consequences of my follies, there’s someone out there who needs me to stay sane. So sane (Once again, that word has to be used lightly) I remain.
Hopes for 2014
More and better work coming in. More importantly, I need to make moves to have another country to provide me with things. Singapore has been home for a decade but life is such that it is becoming a place where all but the very rich seem to enjoy. It’s a particularly demanding place for someone who has survived as a one-man operation. So it looks like 2014 should be a year for me to branch into other places within a region that is growing and has much to offer the world.