From Son to Father - Ravi Kundalia

He began working eight years ago at age 20, and has continuously grown and transformed ever since. Inquisitive, hard-working, and an exceptionally doting father, Ravi Kundalia ticks lots of boxes. He was blessed with twins 15 months ago, and that turned his life around 360 degrees. In honour of Father’s Day, we caught up with this dedicated dad to better understand him and his special bond with his kids and his own father.

Tell us about your line of work.
We are primarily involved in the field of manufacturing specialty wires and cables. Over the past 60 years, this family business has grown, transitioned, and diversified to where it is today. I am the third generation in our family business. I am a strong believer in “what got us here, won’t take us there”, I work every day to innovate for the future.

You’ve worked in the U.S. and Germany. How was your experience?
Two very different professional cultures and each has taught me very different things. Growing up in a business family here, I found that we tended to be “always-on”, whether at home or in the office. The U.S. work stint taught me the value of compartmentalising the personal and the professional aspects of life. My experience in Germany helped me understand that in operations, you must always be thinking of the future. Solving today’s problems is not enough.

Being a part of the family business has meant working with your father. What have you learnt from him?
For me, my father exemplifies a phenomenal work ethic. I’ve learnt to lead by example and always do the right thing, whether or not anyone is watching. It’s not easy to be a father to a generation that thinks they know more and question everything. To my father’s credit, he has been patient and has given me the freedom to let me make my own mistakes. He has been a guide and coach, rather than just an instructor.

And what’s it like to have your father as your boss?
Like most things, there are advantages and disadvantages. I feel it is how you as the son choose to define the relationship. Knowing your boundaries as a son at the workplace helps. However, for me it works great as we are in sync and there is a high degree of understanding and mutual respect. A lot of unsaid things are understood, and there is a higher level of efficiency in our work. It helps to know the boss at a personal level to really get the most out of the relationship. Attitude decides how the relationship works – whether you thrive or survive.

How did becoming a father change your life?
As cliché as it sounds, it changes everything! Priorities change overnight, and I have become a lot more empathetic, understanding and sensitive towards the people around me. Also, becoming a father has raised my admiration and appreciation for mothers! Having twins has made becoming a father doubly interesting.

You’ve been working from home since you had your babies. What’s it like to work with two toddlers around?
It is the best! It is a rare opportunity that was available to me, and I took it. Every week of working from home is different; you get windows of time to work, and you have to make the most of it. You have to be able to switch on and off quickly. 

There are times when I’d be working on something really important, and one of the babies would get up, so you save that document, shut the laptop and be a dad, and you get back to work when he lets you! It is not easy, but it is extremely satisfying. I am grateful to have spent the quality time with them and will continue to do so. Babies are not a distraction; neither is work. Once that is clear, everything falls into place.

How would you describe the feeling of being a dad?
It’s special; words cannot describe the joy of first holding your kids in your arms and then watching them grow up. You know as parents that you are responsible for them. Your actions today will shape their future. It’s a lot of pressure, but I take each day as it comes, knowing I’ve done my best and hoping that it’s good enough.

How hands-on are you?
My wife is an entrepreneur and we share the responsibilities. I can’t say equally, because I know it is not. I am very much a hands-on dad – diaper changing, feeding, and sleeping are part of the job description. I enjoy playing with them and reading to them. 

On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate yourself as a father?
I can only rate how I feel as a father, and that is surely a 10. I feel on top of the world. We will have to wait a few years to get their verdict on the father scorecard. As they say, it takes a village to raise a kid… well, we have two!       – as told Anahita