Balance between Work and Life: Carving Out a Path that Leads to Success

The elusive idea of maintaining balance between work and life may seem unrealistic or just an unsubstantiated theory. Those who are striving to excel and progress in their career may even feel that it is something they need to sacrifice in pursuit of career goals. However, from my perspective, balance in work and personal life is an important tool that helps people succeed in life. And without it, success is always incomplete. As an entrepreneur, I learned quickly that the role one plays in their career, whether as a leader or an employee, they are closely related and supported by their personal life. Think of it this way, if your career is a journey towards a destination, then your personal life is your companion. Therefore, it is fair to state that acquiring balance between work and life is a necessity, not an option. And the best part of seeking and finding balance in life is that it can come at no cost. No need for you to visit seminars about managing life or find a Guru, just adding a few things to your priority list like me, and it will do the job just fine. Let me break it down for you.

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Being Aware Of Your Needs in Life/Divide and Conquer

I learned from my father at a very young age that awareness and acceptance are the first and second steps of a three-step process to build a happy and successful life. A did not grasp the entirety of the meaning that time, but later I felt that really makes sense. Everyone in this world has a shot at winning but the confused one. Work is very important of course, it fuels your dreams and creates the vision for your future. However, it is equally important to accept the importance of your personal life. It will help you be better aware of what you need from life. What I like to do is create a plan to spend time on doing things that I am passionate about, getting away from work for a few moments. And it works like a charm! Dividing your work and personal life pursuits will help you to focus on both, without ignoring one in favour of the other. It could be enjoying sports, delving into literature or spending time with family. Taking time apart from work will re-prioritize your life goals and allow you to remove stress of work from the equation. As a career oriented professional, you must have endless priorities and an ocean of work, but you must believe that carving out time from work for personal pursuits is always possible. And you will start to see a more calm and composed version of you working towards success while enjoying life in all its entirety.

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Managing Goals & Priorities

It doesn’t need to be explained that performance is everything when you have a vision for the future. Sure, you have developed a strategy to pursue your vision, but lack of performance can see you settle for mediocrity in life, in place of greatness. However, in some cases business goals do become extremely demanding. It leaves no extra space in your life for personal requirements, and as a result, stress and frustration seeps into our lives. Like every entrepreneur, I have soldiered through such an experience as well. What I came to know from my experience is that work stress is not always a direct result of work pressure. I trust that we all can work under tremendous pressure for something we deeply desire in life. However, what differentiates success from failure at such circumstances- are  moments of reprieve. Stress builds up when you deny yourself a few moments of relaxation in life, which can be easily achieved by focusing on your personal needs.

Take it from me, managing your goals and priorities can help you to identify your priorities to maintain a positive attitude. The first step to manage priorities would be to-

Prioritize your time by dividing your work in 4 parts:

  • Urgent and important
  • Important but not urgent
  • Urgent but not important
  • Neither urgent nor important

This will give you a clear-cut action plan and if efficiently executed, I believe this process can even help you to carve out time from work for personal growth.

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Inspire and Delegate

As an entrepreneur and veteran business owner, I completely understand the urge to take on all the work to ensure perfect execution. Every ambitious entrepreneur who has a vision for his/her business, feels this pull to dive into every assignment. However, as I felt that it is practically impossible to do all the work by myself. And even if you try and start to see expected results, it won’t be long until you lose the vision of the bigger picture and get tangled into day-to-day work. Thus getting more stressed out and losing your chance of finding balance in life.

To solve this issue, I personally feel it better to communicate my vision to teammates and inspire them to uphold high standards in performance. It always works well, offering my teammates an understanding of my business vision and building trust within the team.  Following this process will free you up from taking on day-to-day tasks, and give you perspective to guide your teammates while carving out personal time to bring balance in life.

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I do understand that directing the team is easy and following the path to success is often hard. However, I believe following battle tested paths rules out the chance of confusion. So, I welcome you all to seek ‘synergistic harmony’ between professional and personal life, and it will empower you to win in life and experience the entirety of life without regrets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Companies Grow When Leaders Evolve

As the business/company grows, entrepreneurs start to see challenges in prioritizing and setting goals, knowing and providing Dos and Don’ts for the team, identifying resource performance and assigning right jobs to the right people, measuring progress and keeping record of it. And, doing all this while keeping the bigger picture in mind! Doing this myself, I felt that operational changes are not enough to offer the transition, which all businesses have to go through to manage new demands and stay relevant. Understanding and accepting that- aid of ideological change was also required- was one of the brightest ‘Eureka’ moments I had in my career. However, my realisation that change is necessary is not that only thing that transformed my business, the management team leading my organization has played an equally important role in etching success.

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What I am trying to say is that even the greatest leaders need help to accomplish the smallest of tasks. Therefore, in a sense each component of the organization is a leader in his/her own right and have to evolve to succeed.

Evolving Equals to Doing More of Everything

Leaders in the organization are already responsible for ‘The Big Picture’, as in the company’s future or primary vision. It is easy to glean that this responsibility encompasses the whole business mechanism. However, in order to ascertain continuous growth of the company, the leaders must shoulder even more responsibility and play many more roles within the organization.

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Inspiring the Team

Since the Leader has the perfect idea of where the company needs to go, I believe it is his/her responsibility to find and communicate the path to success. Leaders need to evolve and find ways to inspire their team through communicating their vision. Just as Mr. Rajendra Parakh, Chief Financial Officer of Vikram Solar does. Communication and interaction have been Mr. Parakh’s tools to inspire his team. His words, articulate portrayals of the goals and the paths have helped the team to handle one of the toughest and complicated jobs (money management) with distinction.

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Being a Teacher/Trainer

Sometimes transference of business vision turns out to be too much for the team members. Sometimes they need to forget about the ‘Big Picture’ and only focus towards the best way to complete the work at hand. I always believed that a Leader must evolve into a teacher to help the team understand problems and provide instructions that can support ‘on the job learning’ and building careers. And Mr. Ivan Saha, Manufacturing Head of Vikram Solar believes so as well. Mr. Saha’s guidance and prompt response to find solutions even in day-to-day assignments have given him the mantle of a Teacher within the manufacturing team.

Being Open

Being professional is a priority for a leader of course. However, I learned in a very young age that business is a living, breathing organism. It needs human touch as much as strategic decisions and calculated operations. I have always tried to incorporate a friendlier and open approach at the organization to walk on these identified steps.

Being a Good Example

Leaders must lead by examples. I believe that becoming an example of his/her own ideals and teachings can help the leader easily inspire the team. Just like Ms. Neha Agrawal, Head of Corporate Strategy & Rooftop Business. Being dedicated, focused, and precise at every point of work, she has inspired her team and the entirety of Vikram Solar to always be ready to work beyond expectations and overachieve.

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Leading the Team Involves Learning from the Team

Leading a team of admirable professionals, each one a leader in their own right, inspires, pushes, and challenges one to break conventions, to be bold, to excel. And If I have achieved even a fraction of these great attributes, it is because of my team. From the very inception, all I wanted to build was an organization that would work in unison with a noble purpose and give something sustainable back to the community, to the world.

In the end I would like to say that besides evolving to play numerous roles in an organization, a leader must collaborate and learn from his team while leading the team towards success.

Do Not Curb Your Expectations, Curb Stress

The things we want, the goals we set for ourselves, all come from within. And, our
expectations change continuously. Business leaders and entrepreneurs may sometimes feel that more intensely than others, as they continuously align their own expectations with growing and evolving market demand and choices. Needless to say this creates an environment of stress and anxiety. Often so much that it starts to impact on health negatively. At that moment when work takes a toll on health, it is very natural to contemplate if having higher expectations in life have led to this scenario. However, before deciding to trim your expectations, you need to understand that expectations are not the problem; it is stress that you have to deal with.

Expectations are not the problem
No, they are most certainly not! It is our expectations that lead us towards success. We are hardwired to overreach, and to expect more in life is the only way to make it better. Human civilization would never have scaled this height and the word ‘leader’ would never have been created if we did not think of putting in more work to get better results. So, you should never think of removing or curbing expectations in your life. However, that does not mean that you have to leave with stress day in and out.
To get relief from stress born of expectations, you have to find the primary want behind
your pursuits and remove others. By, saying ‘others’ we mean expectations that are not
your own but imposed upon you by the community, circle of friends, colleagues. These can be trimmed while you focus on your primary ambition and allow it enough space to evolve. Giving other’s expectations, too much space in your life is like fighting at hundred different fronts, which may led to reduce your priority towards your primary goals.

Focus on what YOU want
Figuring out your own expectations from life, depending on your personal and business pursuits and accepting the work that comes with it would help you shed off the excess weight and feel free of stress. We are always influenced by others, often they shape our characters and push us towards reaching our goals. Therefore, it will be challenging for you to identify and strip away expectations that only burden you with unnecessary stress and do not aid in your growth. However, once you have done that, you will know yourself better.

Set achievable goals
After your primary expectations are in sight, you need to simplify your previously complex and tangled path of action. Now, obviously you have envisioned the bigger picture, which your expectations will portray in near future, but it is important to set smaller goals that lead up to that success, to fend off stress. Small goals will allow you to make the right decisions and build your confidence through small but effective an educating wins. Therefore, it is very important that you set small and achievable goals to keep improving and winning in your career and life without stress.

Being a successful business leader or an entrepreneur with a vision, you would have to swim through a sea of challenges. And stress can be your greatest enemy in this journey towards success. However, curbing your expectations from life is not the right way to go about. You need to do a little bit of soul searching to find out the voice of your own needs and leave everything else behind. Having a singular objective can create a simpler path for life, removing stress or anxiety from the equation.SONY DSC

Quality v/s Quantity: Low Quality Modules Threaten the Indian Solar Market

With India moving towards country wide solarisation to provide ‘Power for all’, future is looking bright for us. However, it is important to note that green energy transition can only be possible if it offers reliable performance. And, performance reliability is closely connected with the quality of the solar technology.

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Our Indian solar vision has led the country to stand at ~25 GW of grid connected solar capacity. This is quite impressive, but we need to focus on the primary idea behind the Indian solar vision, which was ‘energy sustainability’ and ‘initiating internal industrial growth’ to control the nation’s own solar future. Importing and installing solar panels are obviously increasing the green energy generation rate in the country. However, it is not helping India to build industrial infrastructure required to deploy solar energy in a sustainable manner and according the climatic conditions of India.

Low Quality Modules are Introduced Through Imports

Stakeholders of the Indian Solar industry have time and again pointed that most imported modules deployed do not meet the benchmark of Quality standards. Subsequently, they are found to generate lesser Solar Power for the stipulated period. It has also been highlighted that low quality imported modules being used in the grid can damage the energy transmission and jeopardize sustainability.

However, there still is a huge influx of imported modules in the Indian market. Approximately 161.5 million solar panels were imported in India in FY 2014–15 amounting to almost $821 million. Scaling up to FY 17-18, the expenditure jumped to $3.8 billion in solar equipment imports. India imports solar modules at $0.32- $0.35/Wp. Which is 8-10% cheaper than industry average domestically manufactured modules. Although, it is cheap, it is putting long-tern energy reliability into question. Additionally, with China’s recent solar policy, the price of solar modules are expected to dip far lower, pushing domestic manufacturers out of market. Most importantly, 25% safeguard duty imposition on SEZ based solar manufacturers is summing up to be quite a threat to Indian solar manufacturing industry. Although, 25% safeguard duty on solar module and cell imports (mainly modules) would have helped the industry and the domestic manufacturing sector by creating demand. But as the duty targets domestic solar manufacturing units within the special economic zones (SEZ) as well, it might do more harm to the domestic industry than good.

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In current form of this duty, there is no exemption to SEZ based manufacturing units, which is the hub of solar manufacturing in India. 40% of Solar panel Manufacturing Units and 60% of Solar Cells Manufacturing Units are located in SEZs.

Therefore, currently, safeguard duty does not present any opportunity. Imposing 25% safeguard duty on SEZ based domestic solar module and cell-manufacturing units will increase solar module production price and push domestic manufacturers in India out of business. The duty will also bring in issue of job losses, as the demand for domestically manufactured modules and cells fall.

Factoring in the safeguard debacle, if we consider the quality issue, we can assume that India is spending a huge amount of money to deliberately hand over the green energy future of the nation to foreign suppliers and securing an unreliable future.

Threat to Investments

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Although the Indian solar industry has stepped into maturity, we must realise that we are still dependant on investors, financiers, and lenders to make solar energy bankable. For a country that is trying to build investor’s confidence in the solar sector, using low quality solar equipment is potentially a big step back in the shadows. And although, India has invoked quality standardization rules, lack of MNRE accredited testing facilities (only 5 in India) will surely delay the project timelines or introduce low quality modules in the projects.

This way, low quality solar equipment will definitely cost India its financiers, as they depend on consistent performance of solar modules to get return on investment, which low quality equipment fail to offer. Besides the initial loss of financial aids, India will also stand to lose billions of dollars in maintenance, repair, and replacement of low quality modules, eventually missing its target of ‘Power for all’ initiative. In the same breath, we also need to highlight that continuously falling solar tariff and Government’s decisions like- asking developers to setup manufacturing bases to be able to win the bid, have sapped the interest of the developers in bidding for projects, as example we can highlight SECI’s failure to bring in bidders for its latest 10 GW solar project.

In this scenario, shrinking solar module import ratio, stabilizing solar tariff, and re-prioritizing solar manufacturing seems the best option to protect solar industry in India.

Way Forward

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Indian solar vision is all about building energy reliance and initiating socio-economic growth. However, being dependant on importing solar modules, have increased our import dependency, increased our exposure to volatility in currency and risk of involvement of low quality solar modules has increased significantly. It literally threatens to put project reliability and energy security in danger. Therefore, Government of India needs to focus on solar manufacturing, exempting domestic manufacturers from taxes and duties that threaten to dismantle the industry and building more testing facilities to maintain quality and reliability of solar components.

A strong domestic manufacturing eco-system is imperative to push a nation through socio-economic growth barriers. Research reveals that focusing on domestic manufacturing can save India more than $42 billion by 2030, which otherwise would be wasted on imports, to bring in possibly low quality modules. Domestic solar growth has already created more than 416,000 jobs in India within 2015 and 1,017,800 jobs are expected be created within 2022. Taking a more aggressive initiative towards enhancing the domestic solar manufacturing capacity can also help in meeting the solar energy implementation target and prepare India for the mantle of solar super power.

Re-Prioritizing ‘Make in India’: Need of the Hour

India saw the opportunity for growth in economic development through industrial capacity expansion and domestic manufacturing. Hon’ble Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi focused on manufacturing and brought forward a multi-pronged operation titled ‘Make in India’ to bring in new investments and encouragement for manufacturing growth, creating jobs, and socio-economic revolution within the country. And as expected, Make in India did attract investment, reducing knowledge curve and initiating technological growth within industrial setups. In such an environment, new and lucrative sectors like Solar, saw a bright future and possibilities for country wide improvements. But, the picture is not turning out to be that rosy.

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Support & Expectations

Make in India was supposed to work on the same lines of tried and tested strategies that have helped many countries to transform into global suppliers by focusing on their manufacturing capacity expansion. The initiative was expected to create jobs, help develop long-term policies for R&D growth, faster deployments, and build capacity in manufacturing raw materials in a value chain, to satisfy domestic demand and ultimately capture the export market of progressive sectors like Solar.

To support Make in India to turn these expectations into reality, Government of India established Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and extended special benefits like- cheap water, electricity etc. The Government also offered special benefits to lucrative sectors like Solar, namely- exemption from excise duties, 10-year income tax holiday, exemption of sales tax in certain states, payment security mechanisms to cover the risk of default by state utilities/DISCOMs etc.

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Additionally, Government also permitted 100% Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) under the automatic route for renewable energy generation.

As a result, India was able to excel in building a strong manufacturing set up in one of the fastest growing sectors like Solar. And with initiatives like Make in India running at full throttle, India stood a chance to surpass dominating solar countries like US and eventually China. However, the biggest challenges to make that happen is lack of support from Make in India.

The Current Reality

Making India a manufacturing hub can be the solution to all of the country’s woes. In fact, solar has already presented itself as a viable sector to invest in. The sector’s continuous leaps from 5 GW in 2015 to 10 GW in 2016 to ~25 GW in 2018 acts as a proof of its promising nature. And there are numerous examples where countries have become global suppliers in solar sector by focusing on manufacturing- like China. Although, Make in India could have helped India achieve a similar goal, India’s continuously growing dependency towards importing solar has removed that opportunity from equation. India spent $3.8 bn in FY 17-18 on solar module import, which has limited the progress in manufacturing capacity expansion, leading to a market scenario where foreign suppliers have claimed more than 80% share. In the same breath we need to highlight that China’s recent energy policy will lead to further fall in imported module prices, capturing demand of domestic manufacturing even more (currently Indian suppliers have less than 10% share in Indian solar market).

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Additionally, continuous drop in solar tariff, cancelation of projects, and lack of green energy distribution to the grid is scaring away the investors, making it more challenging for Make in India to succeed.

On top of that, imposition of 25% safeguard duty on SEZ based solar manufacturing units in India stands to deal a damaging blow to country’s solar manufacturing industry, as India’s 40% of Solar panel Manufacturing Units and 60% of Solar Cells Manufacturing Units are currently located in SEZs. SEZs were built to support Indian manufacturing sector, and as the growth statistics, it has. And for continued growth, more support is needed not taxes, or duties.

It is, as it seems. But there is still time to turn things around. Make in India can still serve the purpose it was built for: economic and social growth through industrial development. However, intervention is needed in different strategic and operational layers.

  • New policies are needed to address manufacturing issues regarding infrastructure, transport, taxation, power outages, labor laws, and taxation
  • Low cost finances and longer tenure loans are needed to help solar project developers
  • Investment in establishing R&D institutions is needed to support quality control and to reduce the knowledge curve
  • Reducing import dependency
  • Re-prioritizing solar and exempting it from duties, added taxes are also necessary
  • Campaigns like National Skill Development Mission are already available, Government needs to invest in them and broaden their reach to create skilled workforce
  • Extending the viability of industrial license, creating random inspection scheme, and reducing corporate tax rate by 25%-30% can aid in bringing foreign investment

Moving Ahead

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As solar continues to gain global acceptance, this is the best time for India to focus on solar manufacturing, thus making power for all a reality while becoming a global supplier of solar components. Make in India is the perfect platform to launch this growth trajectory. However, much more focus on domestic manufacturing rather than importing is needed.

It is estimated that with focus on domestic manufacturing, India can overtake EU’s renewable expansion by 2022. And that would be just the beginning for India to become an energy reliant, economically strong, manufacturing hub of the world.