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Balancing the Grind with Deepankur Malhotra, Co-Founder & COO at Canibuild

Deepankur Malhotra is the co-founder & COO at Canibuild, a world-first, venture-backed, hyper-growth prop tech that is transforming the construction industry.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

I am co-founder and COO of Canibuild. In my career I have worked across various departments of different businesses.

I’m currently looking after finance, HR and overall operations, making sure we are following our projected growth trajectory. I used to be involved in product development but that has now been limited to very specific features. Together with Timothy Cocaro, Stella Cocaro and Shuvajeet Nag, we founded Canibuild 5 years ago.

Today the residential construction industry faces a challenge where answers to simple questions like “Can I build a house on my block of land?” aren’t that simple. Canibuild removes the complexity of the traditional construction sales process and simplifies the weeks-long tasks to a matter of minutes. With its powerful AI engine and codified rules along with geographical information system’s integration it revolutionises the residential construction sales process.

With Mr. Cocaro’s vision and our first-hand experience of the challenges in construction and together with an amazing team of individuals who are passionate about their work, Canibuild is achieving its success. With an exceptional MoM growth and thousands of users using Canibuild everyday, we are across continents with presence in Australia, New Zealand, United states and parts of Canada.

After completing my Graduation in IT, I Started my career with Aon (formerly known as Hewitt Associates) as a software engineer in 2005 in India. During that I completed my Master in Business Administration. Subsequent to that I joined Xerox as a PMO in 2010.

After that, I started my own venture in electrical infrastructure. In 2010 I got married, started my family and a few things changed which motivated me to move permanently to Australia in 2014.
Shortly after coming here, I started working for Rescon Builders, which is one of the leading residential construction companies in NSW as a General Manager. Where I met Timothy Cocaro who is the founder and CEO of both Rescon Builders and Canibuild.

2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

Being a father of two, I start my day with a little bit of contribution to get my kids ready for school and drop them off. Most of my day goes towards daily/weekly meetings with various teams and rest in strategizing about various other aspects of the organisation.

Reaching home by dusk shifts me towards assembling little pieces of Legos with my 9 years old daughter, hitting some cricket shots with my 5 years old son, until they go to bed. And once mine and my wife’s ears have rested, we share our every day’s experiences with each other. When all settles, I do check my inbox before going to bed, which gives me a head start for the next day.

Last week, Wednesday I started with a Canibuild’s product demonstration for one of the top 5 residential builders in the US, followed by an interview for a sales manager position in the US.

Then during the day I had another interview for a business development manager here in Australia. Followed by another meeting with investors on some regular updates. In addition to above, replying to my emails, messages and catching up with a few other team members.

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?

We have always been a flexible workplace but obviously covid has changed a few aspects for smallest to biggest of the organisations. For Canibuild, the change is that we have adopted a “Remote First” policy, which means even if you live next door to a conventional office address/head office you have the option to work remotely.

We just realised that this was the case when all the cities were locked down. So what has changed now? There is absolutely no difference, and we get it. We also understand that not everyone is comfortable or has the perfect working ambience at their homes and considering that those employees are free to come and work from the office.

Even 5 years ago when we fitted out this office, we set this up as an activity-based workspace. There is no dedicated workstation for anyone, sit wherever you can. There are low, medium, and high focus areas/desks in our office and staff can sit according to the type of tasks they are doing on that day.

For me I love coming to the office as I feel more disciplined and focussed and it helps me concentrate. However, if it’s an early start due to time zone differences or some other commitment I occasionally work from my home.

Coming to work is relatively easy for me. It’s a 20 mins drive one way, and I don’t mind that at all. It allows me to make phone calls, stay in touch with my family and return any missed calls during the day.

Being in an executive /C level role, work doesn’t stop for me, and I like it. I enjoy my work. Having said that, I do try to spend most of my time on weekends with my kids and family. Going for a hike, or to a play area or like a get together with friends.

4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

For me, there are 3 components of work life balance. Your work, workplace, and your family.

If you don’t enjoy your work, there is no way you can balance it in a way that makes you happy. If you love what you do it will bring energy and hence happiness.

If you are happy with the work, but you can’t stand the person sitting next to you or working with you again, it is a deal breaker. We spend almost 50% of our life at work and with our colleagues, so it is critical that you choose both the above wisely.

Above these 2 is the family, for most people that’s the whole reason they want to work and grow. So that they can live a happy and prosperous life with their family.

After many times failing in my career, for the last 8 years I am loving what I am doing, I love my co-workers at Canibuild and I spend enough time with my family to bring me joy.

All these factors keep me spirited all the time, when the times are tough you tend to come out even tougher if you take care of these factors.

5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?

Yes, I have started to live a healthy and active life. I have started working out and following a proper diet. Apart from that it’s pretty much the same for me.

Not in the past 12 months but long before that I used to play cricket and I wish to get back to it. And aiming to do that in this season. Playing and following cricket is the only passion I have, and I share this with a billion+ people back in India for sure.

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

I was never a reader. I occasionally listen to podcasts related to the latest developments and investments in similar companies like Canibuild. But I regularly read CrunchBase and McKinsey’s newsletters. And I have keen interests in current affairs

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

Yes, like most, I can’t live without my phone/laptop and you can add Apple watch to that as well. In terms of the apps, I like spending my time on LinkedIn, News etc.

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?

They are not celebrities to the world but surely are for my family and myself. I envy my father and father-in-law. Where my father-in-law inspires me on how to balance work & family, my father taught me how to be humble and respect others and their feelings.

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

Once again, I would emphasise on the fact that it is most important that you love and enjoy the work you do. If you work every day staring at the clock, in the hope that it ticks to 5 sooner, there is something wrong.

If you avoid phone calls from your colleagues, there is something wrong.

Do something about it.

And above all it is important to spend time with your loved ones as it re-energises you for the next day, week and years to come ahead.

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Balance the Grind is a work-life balance publication on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.