07 May 2020

WFH Q+A: Anjali Raina

Anjali Raina

by Shona Simkin

This week’s staff WFH Q+A is with Anjali Raina, the executive director of the HBS India Research Center in Mumbai, India.

Where in India do you live?
I live in Mumbai, one of the largest urban conglomerates in the world. During this lockdown period, my family (my husband Ishan, my daughter Shveta and her husband Ankit) have moved to our second home in a village called Zirad, which is a two and a half hour drive from Mumbai.

What is your role?
I am the executive director at the HBS (India) research center, based in Mumbai, which supports research in the South Asia region. In this role I lead a team of colleagues who study the trends that are shaping this region and the emerging business models.

What did the onset of COVID-19 in India mean for your office?
We started working from home a little before the general public on March 16, while there was a complete lockdown declared across India on March 24. Since we were a bit ahead of the curve, we had time to plan for best processes for remote working.

Has your role or work changed?
I spend relatively more time on team processes and team meetings and on learning best practices to work remotely; what remains the same is scanning the environment for case leads, emerging trends, and new business models.

What have been some of the challenges?
Challenges are around learning to keep the workday to a reasonable length. With the “virtual office” at arm’s length, it is too easy to slip into the habit of being “always on.”

Anjali Raina

What have been some fun or bright spots?
We did a webinar in partnership with Harvard Business Publishing (HBP), for leaders in the South Asia region, with five faculty and four alumni, covering 4,100 attendees from 55 countries. We executed in 72 hours (!) and learned new skills and developed fresh muscle in the process. We’ve also been doing case research through Zoom calls. One exciting time was when a completed case was taught virtually in the EC, and the case writer and protagonist were able to Zoom in.

Anjali Raina

What is your remote work “office” setup?
I have a small table set up in the living room—it’s my office nook.

How do you and your team connect?
We do Zoom meetings, conference calls, and of course chat over email and WhatsApp. We have had 16 team meetings covering the entire HBS IRC team since we started working remotely, where we share work highlights as well as personal highs and lows. We also had a One Harvard team meeting where our HBP colleagues also joined us.

How are you taking care of yourself right now—is there something that is helping you every day?
Starting a new hobby—birdwatching (!), doing yoga, playing Monopoly deal with the family, and sampling my daughter’s cooking. I chant and read verses from the Geeta, write every day in a gratitude journal, and spend some time with my husband at the end of the day giving thanks for our blessings.

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