My Working Day – Pranay Jeyachandran – Deputy MD and Head of Practices at Incite

As the leader of a company, you are there to set an example, to lead and inspire a team of individuals to achieve a series of business goals. But how do these business leaders go about their daily routine? Business Leader spoke to Pranay Jeyachandran – Deputy MD and Head of Practices at Incite, about his working day.

What time do you usually wake up?

I’m an early bird and usually up and around by 5.30am. I’ve always been more productive in the morning, and that’s become even more evident during lockdown – a day of video calls drains me!

What do you typically have for breakfast?

Oats with almond milk and fruit on a workday – it fuels my morning and fends off hunger pangs pre-lunch! Breakfast is important to me, and not only for what I eat; it’s an opportunity to take stock before kicking into the day proper, and I miss breakfast at the office for that reason. There’s no WFH version of getting in early and having a catch up before everyone starts the day.

Weekends are a family affair; I’m in charge, it’s time for a bit of an indulgence and on the menu is masala omelette. It’s never failed me yet!

What’s the rest of your morning routine before you start work?

I don’t speak before that first cup of coffee – it’s truly the stuff of life! Then, it’s a catch up with my better half before the busyness of the day hits. There’s an early morning run with the dog for company three times week, and then on with the day.

What I have noticed is that time I’d usually have spent commuting into the office has now become part of the workday – not exactly ideal from a work-life perspective, but I do get a lot more done.

First thing you do at the start of a workday?

Much of my week is taken up with meetings so it’s important to me to orientate by checking what’s in the calendar. It’s been even more vital since Incite joined the STRAT7 group in September – now my day features calls with other companies in the group to scope out opportunities for synergy and collaboration, which is exhilarating.

How do you prioritise your work?

I’m a colour-coder – I’m very visual so organising my checklist through colour is an effective way for me to focus on the important stuff rather than inadvertently getting pulled into the weeds or the urgent or nice-to-do stuff. With our acquisition still so new, some of my priorities are focusing on opportunities with other STRAT7 companies, particularly those that relate to Incite’s Strategy and Planning practices and you’d be surprised at how colour-coding helps with productivity – for me, anyway.

Do you plan meetings or are they a waste of time?

Virtual and hybrid working have, sadly, impacted those short, informal, spontaneous interactions at the office that are so helpful in solving problems and coming up with ideas. That informal sharing of expertise and creativity has now become a scheduled 15-minute diary booking for what was once a five-minute chat.

As a people person, I do find that hard. At Incite, we’ve tried hard to keep meetings short and give people the flexibility to avoid unnecessary ones. Our Outlook calendars automatically shorten all meetings in diaries, so if you book 30 mins it will only book the attendees for 20. It makes everyone more focused and importantly, helps avoid Zoom fatigue.

Do you have a working lunch or is it good to take a break?

Pre-lockdown, a working lunch was fine – you still had a change of pace, time with people rather than the screen. In the WFH world, I take pains to take a break and step away from the desk for at least half an hour. It really helps to clear the mind.

When does your working day finish?

Usually, I’m shutting down around 6.00 – 6.30pm, although I do check messages and some of those other frowned-on working-after-work practices we shouldn’t do. But I do now ensure I leave my phone charging in my home office overnight, so I’m not tempted to check it while I’m in bed or first thing in the morning.

How do you prepare for your next day’s work?

It might be best practice to prepare the night before, but 25 years of professional life has taught me I  do best by focusing more on the now, so I do most of my preparation in the morning. That said, work is often on my mind so there’s always some subconscious mulling taking place.

What’s your favourite piece of technology?

I’m an app man. Slack is now invaluable to help me and my colleagues exchange and share ideas on that informal basis. I’m also a big fan of visual collaboration tools like Miro and Mural, both for our own creative work and for facilitating client workshops. Personally, my Apple Watch keeps my running on track (pardon the pun) and WhatsApp is how I stay in touch with my family across the world.

How do you switch off?

Meditation works for me every time. I do it every night, it helps me sleep.

And the odd strum on my acoustic guitar – at the end of the working day, and sometimes between meetings, I find it therapeutic. (Tunes of choice include classics from bands like the Eagles, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and Deep Purple and I try and find time to learn music too. More recently, my daughters have introduced me to indie rock, and every now and then get me to accompany them in their jam sessions!)

Best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Early in my career, one of my first bosses once told me ‘the higher you go in an organisation, the lonelier it gets, so aim to build a team around you that you can trust and rely on.’ In 25 years of working across the globe – Asia, North Africa and Europe – I’ve found this to be true. It’s why now that I’m in a senior leadership role, I really value the mutual support a tight leadership team brings. It’s beneficial for individuals and the business – especially within a strategic consultancy like Incite, because you can bounce ideas off people, benefit from each other’s experiences and share the decision-making to combine customer insights with commercial acumen and creativity for our clients. I’m definitely a big fan of collaborative leadership.

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