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Hopscotch Heros: Seema Punwani

5 minute read: We Chat to Seema Punwani, partner at R3 Media

Hopscotch: Tell us a bit about your daily routine

 Seema: I am an early riser. I am usually up by 6 am. By half-past 6 I need to start waking my teenage son who despite having four different alarms finds it difficult to catch his school bus on time. In addition to my job as a marketing consultant, I am also a writer. I try to write 500 words before 8 am. Currently, I am working on my second novel as well as my thesis for my Masters in Creative Writing from LASALLE College of the Arts. 

I get some exercise done before I leave for work. Recent obsession is a hard core boot camp which is held near my place by the Kallang river. And then I leave for work around 9ish. 

When I started work with R3, a global marketing consultancy, I took a 40% pay cut from my previous role in an advertising agency. As a single mother, I could not keep the long hours that advertising demands. So now I don’t work full time on all days. Some days I leave work by 3 pm. Those days, I come home and cook. I love cooking. It’s very therapeutic for me. Or I sit in a café and read a book. I read at least 3 books a month.

Nights are simple dinners with Netflix or with my son, provided he comes out his room. 

 Hopscotch: What is your family background/current situation and how has this influenced your life today? 

Seema: I was born in Spain, where I lived till I was five. I was raised in Mumbai, India where I did my schooling and university. And now I have lived in Singapore longer than India, for most of my working life. I have always been a bit of an outsider in every land that I have lived, belonging fully nowhere, living on the periphery, never completely in, but not totally out either. My expat friends in Singapore find me ‘too local’. For Singaporeans, I will never be one of them. I don’t enjoy chicken rice or bak kwa, making the situation far worse. Thanks to my love for books, I am equipped to be alone, but never lonely. 

This outsider-in perspective helps me in my job, as it gives me clarity and I am able provide an independent point of view to my clients.

 Hopscotch: What three key tips could you share in promoting work/life balance within your family?  

1) Decide your priorities.

 When my son was born, I chose to work three days a week. This meant I was passed over for promotion in favour of a male colleague who was putting in not only full-time hours, but extra ones as well. My priority then was to enjoy my son’s baby years.

2)Find your passion and then a way to monetize it

Love your work and you will not need to work a single day of your life.

 3) Life beyond work…

And shopping, and cooking and looking after the home. Spend time to reacquaint with yourself. Or as I call it ‘quiet time’. 

Hopscotch: Who do you look up to and why? 

Seema: There is no one person who I would call my hero. I take different inspiration from different people. From my mother, I have learnt resilience. From my father, the protective attitude towards family, from my son, sheer honesty (and negotiation skills). 

Hopscotch: What keeps you moving forward and what threatens to hold you back?  

Seema: My life has had several twists and turns. I have learnt to never look back. What keeps me moving forward is curiosity and the opportunity to learn new things, constantly. 

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