For someone in upper management, the position comes with a lot of responsibilities and pressure. Being in a senior role, executives are always busy and on the go. But this does not mean that they do not have hobbies and interests outside the workplace.
A great hobby gives space for mastery and passion outside of work. Executives with hobbies feel happier, more fulfilled and less burned out. The skills gained from hobbies can also pay off at work.
We asked some corporate leaders about their hobbies and interests outside of work. They told us about their interests and activities outside the workplace and how these activities make them more productive. Moreover, they have shared that hobbies relieve them from the pressures of senior roles and help maintain work-life balance better.
Emran Hasan, Chief Executive Officer at Shanta Asset Management Limited
I have so many hobbies and interests outside of work. A few worth mentioning include travelling, practising taekwondo, weight-lifting (training), watching movies and reading books.
I feel my day is incomplete if there are no activities to challenge my physical capacities as well. I am learning taekwondo and enjoy the intense sessions at my taekwondo club.
Additionally, watching movies with my daughter is my favourite pastime. We watch movies together every weekend. I love travelling and I have even travelled solo several times.
I strongly believe that hobbies make people more productive and everyone should have some in their life. Taekwondo and exercise help me to be physically fit, disciplined and maintain a high energy level.
Low stress, high energy level and learning new skills always have had a high impact on being productive. Stress reduction is another common benefit of all hobbies.
Sometimes practising taekwondo after a stressful day seems intimidating but once I am in the class and I am fully charged up and after my session, I feel like I have just started my day full of energy.
Travelling helps me to take a break from my regular routine life and it is kind of like restarting myself. All my hobbies help me to focus on the moment rather than worrying about what may happen tomorrow.
All hobbies have some kind of benefit. Taekwondo and regular exercise taught me the benefits of focus, discipline and consistency.
Travelling helps me to broaden my vision and perspective that I cannot experience by studying. However, reading books on different topics helps me to learn many new things outside of formal education or job.
Rajeeb Samdani, Managing Director at Golden Harvest Group
My biggest interest outside of work is the collection of art. Founding the Samdani Art Foundation is a passion project of mine. We have collected more than two thousand pieces of modern and contemporary artwork as a result.
The involvement with art and culture made me a different person from who I was before. Mingling or working with creative people is always a positive thing.
It gives me a different kind of joy, and I also learn a lot of things every single day from them.
My passion gives me a chance to breathe fresh air which releases my work-related pressures. My wife and I share the same passion.
For us, this is more than a hobby. You might have heard about the Dhaka Art Summit. We promote Bangladeshi art and artists. It is a different sort of achievement.
Through our event, we are successful in putting Bangladesh on the global art map.
Dhaka Art Summit's main objective was to brand Bangladesh through our culture. It is an amazing experience.
People all over the world now know about Bangladeshi art. International museums are acknowledging Bangladeshi artwork.
Our talented artists are getting recognition. It gives me personal joy that my little contribution is making a difference.
My involvement in art collection and art summits enabled me to meet new people and learn many interesting things .
My world is divided into two parts: my passion and my work. Both of them balance each other. When I come back to work, I feel re-energised.
Shamima Akhter, Head of Corporate Affairs at Unilever
Personally, I am a very active individual. Physical wellbeing is very important for me.
I'm a certified climber and also a long-distance cyclist. I received my climbing certificate from Krishnanagar Mountaineering Club, India. I try to go on an expedition every year.
My adventures include trekking the Himalayas, cycling 800 km in Madagascar, etc. In addition, I've summited Mt. Noon at Kashmir, Cheng Benga at Himachal etc.
So what I do is I take a two to three-week-long vacation. I satisfy my need for adventure by going on trekking or cycling trips.
I go with a particular club or organisation. Most of my expeditions take place in India.
I get to know different people from different cultures. The groups consist of diverse people.
As these are group activities, my decisions, efficiency and sense of responsibility impact other fellow adventurers. It teaches me how to behave responsibly. My responsible behaviour helps the team to achieve its goals and reach its destinations.
These experiences are totally different from that of day to day activities.
Secondly, when we do the same thing every day, we do not get time for thinking or introspection. Hobbies do not always have to be adventurous as reading a book or gardening might serve the same purpose – helping you connect your soul and mind.
From time to time, you have to divert your attention elsewhere. This helps you think positively and increases your focus.
This broadens your perspective too because people usually think in a box. To think outside the box you need to throw yourself in a situation unknown to you.
Then you will have a better understanding of your judgement, leadership capacity, decision-making abilities.
Upper-level management is not just about execution and rather about effective strategising and critical thinking, so a break is much needed. And spending time on your hobby is the best way to enjoy your break. It may even give you the breakthrough necessary to take your organisation to the next level.
Shovon Islam, Managing Director at Sparrow Group
I was a software engineer in HP for 24 years before joining Sparrow Group as managing director. As the job was so demanding, I could not develop many hobbies and that was the time around the internet dot-com boom. So, work was my passion, to be honest.
However, I had to travel a lot because of my work. As a result, I travelled to exotic destinations. While travelling to different places, a habit of shopping for my family grew.
So, other than my job, my leisure activity involved travelling and shopping. And, shopping indeed helped me make a fortune as it helped me with my business.
When I came back to Bangladesh and joined Sparrow, I saw we did not make enough womens' clothes. We were all producing mens' garments.
Assuming my role, my priority was to diversify our business by including women's garments. We now produce a significant portion of Marks and Spencer's women clothing.
One of the key things necessary for handling a leadership role is out of the box thinking. If you do everything that you do every day, you get bored and miss the big picture. Hobbies free up your mind and give you different perspectives.
Farhana Hasan, Founder and CEO, HerWill
I love to read, travel, seek and befriend interesting and inspiring people, have fun with friends and family, and work out.
Exercising is a must for me. There is no excuse for not doing some regularly regardless of other pressures. It keeps me focused, disciplined, with the added benefit of looking and feeling better.
Consistently working out clears up brain fog and helps me focus with renewed energy.
Moreover, seeing new places, experiencing different cultures, food, flora, fauna, art, and music, and an overall different way of life gives us short courses on diversity and inclusion.
My hobbies give me a clear division between work and leisure in my life. Since work is the most important part of life, I am not a big fan of the phrase 'work-life balance'.
I look forward to my hobbies so I can come to my work rejuvenated and fulfilled. Without these hobbies, I would be a machine devoid of joy and human values and that is not a leader/colleague anybody wants to be around.
Formal education, no matter how far we go, only gives us a structured, basic level of learning. Thus it is called 'formal'.
Our hobbies awaken us, light up our souls and lighten our stress levels to not only perform our best but also innovate and evolve constantly. Learning is a lifelong journey that does not end with a degree or a job title.
I learnt about the constant pursuit of knowledge, diversity in thought and work styles, teamwork, solid decision-making, empathy and other important human values from my hobbies which help me be better at what I do daily.