24 Hours With…Essence’s Kunal Guha

24 Hours With... spotlights the working day of some of the most interesting people in Asia’s marketing and media landscape. Today, we hear about a day in the life of Kunal Guha, managing director of Essence Singapore

7am: Most mornings I stir (more like hit the snooze button five times before my wife nudges me to wake up) around 7/7:15am. My mornings begin with one mantra: “Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.” I immediately guzzle down two-to-three glasses of water followed by fresh coconut water, which is a gift from Mother Nature packed with a cornucopia of health benefits.

Picking up my mobile device and it’s time for a quick 30-minute rundown of the world’s headlines, the markets and all things tech. I then begin a Wunderlist session to sort my priorities, to do’s and must do’s; to get mentally ready and organised for the day ahead.

8am: And I hear rustling from the rooms. My wife and three-year-old daughter are up, and the serene morning wonderfully transitions into family time, laughter and breakfast together. My breakfast fuel every single day is rolled oats with chia seeds, four boiled egg whites, a spoon of unsalted peanut butter and a choice of fruit – usually dragon fruit, red apple or pear. Yes I have been told I have a  “peculiar” breakfast.  

8:40am: Time to say goodbye to my wife and daughter with promises of playtime when I’m back in the evening. Then a short Uber ride to the office, when timed correctly, gets me in by 8:59am.

9am: I aim to dedicate my first two-to-three hours for client and leadership meetings, discussing the key strategic priorities for our clients and the region. Singapore was the first office we launched in APAC in 2013 and serves as our regional hub, supporting our operations in Tokyo, Delhi and Sydney By 9:30/10am the office is bustling with friendly banter in between meetings.  I can feel the energy from our employees permeating across the office.

11am / 12pm: This is my first ‘Kunal time’ block where I hunker down, catch up on my emails and begin to focus on cranking out my must do’s for the day. On a good day I can complete two-to-three key priorities by lunchtime.

12:30pm-1:30pm: I like eating lunch at my desk, something I attribute to working in New York for 10 years.  I still haven’t been able to shake the ‘pick up a sandwich, scarf down in 10 minutes, back to my monitor’ routine. Nowadays I order freshly cooked, healthy food through the Fitthree app and I’m loving it.

Lunch is followed by a walk down to our neighbourhood cafe, 6 Oz, for my regular iced caramel latte. Perched on the outside embankment of our office building, sipping on my afternoon dose of caffeine, I call home to hear about all the fun things my wife and daughter have been up to. Yesterday was ‘let’s paint’ day. These precious 15 minutes are so therapeutic.

1:30pm onwards: This period is dedicated to a myriad of team meetings, country/market updates, catch-ups with our portfolio and discipline leads and priority campaign reviews. My absolute favourite part of the day is doing ‘walk and talks’ – 30-minute talks with our Singapore team members while walking around the block, or taking the scenic routes of Ann Siang Hill. Nothing gives me greater joy than to catch up with our staff; learning more about their projects, achievements, the challenges they’re facing and how they plan on tackling them helps me forge deeper relationships with them all.

6pm: On the dot, my laptop is in my bag, gym bag in hand, and I’ve said goodbye to the team as I head out to Crossfit Urban Edge – a brisk walk up Ann Siang Hill, through Maxwell over to Outram Park.

6:30pm:  Today’s workout of the day is an AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) of 400m runs, 10 overhead squats , 20 V-up sit ups and repeat cycle. And if I’m not completely winded at the end, I go for a bonus 50 GHD sit-ups.

My Crossfit journey began a year ago and I absolutely look forward to getting to the gym, kickstarting those endorphins, clearing my mind and dedicating all my focus to achieving perfect form in each functional movement. We have a truly amazing community, constantly encouraging and motivating each other.

8pm: I get home right on time for family dinner. My wife and I share stories of the day’s events, and our daughter chimes in with her own rendition of her adventures, from walking on the moon to flying to London and New York to visit our family. Ah, the beauty of a child’s imagination.

Daddy promised playtime, so it’s time for a spontaneous game of hide-and-seek around the house. My wife chides me not to get our daughter too excited, because it’s bedtime. Pyjamas on and it’s reading time as we explore the world of Goodnight Choo Choo Train, Olivia and Friends and Bears in the Bath. Our daughter falls off to sleep hearing her mother’s soothing voice.

9pm-10pm: My wife and I enjoy our after dinner spiced ginger and mint tea (and one chocolate for me). It’s our time together for us to spend quality time talking about all things life.

10pm-12:30am: Second wind kicks in, I pop open my laptop and take a couple of global calls via Google Hangout. A final pass through responding to emails and I’m done for the day. If I’m not too tired, I try to get in an hour of discovery time, picking non-work related topics I’m interested in learning more about. Right now its equities trading and value investing.

12:30am-1:00am: My wife and I are both now falling asleep and it’s time to retire for the night. Right before sleeping, I spend 20 minutes in Kriya; meditation and alternating deep-and-shallow breathing. It helps me compartmentalise everything running through my mind to clear my thoughts into a peaceful and calm state. I gently slide into a deep, blissful sleep.



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