Being passionate about an interest outside of work is one way to hone new skills, meet like-minded people or just to decompress from the daily grind.
However, many professionals may find it difficult to pursue such interests wholeheartedly, especially with workplace demands. Those who manage a good work-life balance will attest that time management is key.
At Bank of Singapore, we have many such unique colleagues but highlight two individuals who have not only pursued their interests but become well-known for them in larger global communities.
Calming the mind
Subramanian B. R, who is fondly known to friends and colleagues as Mani, became a father just as his career in the financial industry was taking off in the 1990s. He knows all too well the stresses which come with a fast-paced job while trying to juggle a new family.
So, when a family friend recommended meditation in 1993 as a way for him to relax and calm his mind, he decided to give it a shot.
He was immediately hooked and made the simple form of meditation, called Heartfulness, a part of his daily regime. The form of meditation, which originates from India, involves sitting down and listening to a set of commands from a trainer to slowly relax the body from head to toe as a prelude to the meditation.
Two years later, he underwent a 15-day course in India to become a trainer himself so he could impart its soothing benefits to others.
Today, Mani is a director in our Global South Asia and Middle East team in Dubai. Outside of work, he functions as the United Arab Emirates (UAE) coordinator for Heartfulness meditation.
As a coordinator, he is responsible for the conduct and growth of Heartfulness meditation in the UAE which are regularly conducted in government institutions, corporate organisations, schools and universities for free.
Mani abides by a tight schedule beginning each day at 4am with a meditation session he conducts at the Heartfulness Meditation Centre in Jumeirah Lake Towers, before heading off to work at the Dubai International Financial Centre.
The free sessions are attended by dozens of participants ranging from housewives to businessmen.
On Sundays, he organises a one-hour lunchtime session in the office which is typically attended by up to 25 colleagues.
Mani, said, “Meditation helps people to absorb information better and provides a tremendous amount of clarity in decision-making.
“Colleagues who have attended my sessions have also said that they now sleep ‘like a baby’ at night.”
Honing the written word
On September 20, 2008, a terrorist attack rocked the Islamabad Marriott Hotel in Pakistan killing and injuring scores of people including at least five foreigners.
The news sent shock waves down Tariq Saleim’s spine as he narrowly missed becoming a victim himself.
He had been staying at the Islamabad Marriott for a few days where he attended a series of client meetings at the hotel’s lobby restaurant. He was scheduled to be in the hotel on the day of the attack, but a few cancelled client meetings cleared his day and he left the hotel and the city ahead of schedule.
Looking back, Tariq reflects, “It was not so much of a close call as it was a wake-up call. It really had a strong impact on me. My kids were young at the time and there was so much I wanted to tell them about life.”
He decided to tap in on his childhood passion of writing to capture his views on the meaning of life to leave something behind for his son and daughter, then aged five and 10, in case anything untoward ever happened to him.
It took him five years, but Tariq completed his first work of fiction in 2013 - a novella entitled “A Chronicle of Amends” - which is based on his real-life experiences with love, wealth, happiness and spirituality.
An excerpt from the book reads: “I feel duty-bound to pass on my findings to everyone who is willing to offer a listening ear. If my work can change only one person's life, then I will consider it worth all the effort.
Tariq, who is our Global Head of Lending Products, Credit Structuring and Wealth Planning, did not stop there. The success and positive reviews he received from clients, friends as well as the public, spurred him to keep writing.
Over the years, he has honed his craft and published two more fictional books, with a fourth in the pipeline.
Tariq intends to continue writing. He says, “I find the process relaxing and rewarding at the same time.
“One day when I’m done with banking, I will have the time to write more books and really market them as a full-time job. I received good reviews on my work and I am confident that with focused efforts I can do better.”
“I feel duty-bound to pass on my findings to everyone who is willing to offer a listening ear. If my work can change only one person's life, then I will consider it worth all the effort.
A Chronicle of Amends, Tariq Saleim
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Version: December 2019