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Balancing the Grind with Sumedha Arun, Engagement Manager at Deloitte

Sumedha Arun is an Engagement Manager at Deloitte, a global provider of audit and assurance, consulting, financial advisory, risk advisory, tax, and related services.

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

I was born and raised in India with a profound desire to be a change agent for society. I started playing soccer at an early age which influenced many decisions I have taken since then. I quickly learnt, to succeed on the field or the stock market, humans need to communicate and strive in teams which work on pillars of trust and credibility.

Based on my sporting experience, I co-founded Forever Fit in my senior year, a digital platform which served as a one stop shop for customers looking for lifestyle changes and connecting them to health care vendors from hospitals to top merchandise brands.

After raising capital and helping young adults live a healthier lifestyle, I moved across the world to pursue psychology at Columbia University. Leaving home (my happy place) and family to reinvent myself in a new country and economy was a major milestone. The pace of New York was electrifying and addictive, the chaos soon became normal and I found solace in the streets of Manhattan.

During my double masters, I gave therapy to different populations from high functioning individuals at Wall street, couples on the upper west side and individuals with developmental disabilities at an Orthodox Jewish agency. My experiences as an aspiring counsellor taught me more about myself (we keep discovering more).

I wanted to use my knowledge of human behaviour at larger settings to put my entrepreneur mindset and business acumen to the test. I joined Deloitte’s Human Capital practice in 2018. 

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

I am not an early riser, I have tried to change it but at some point we have to accept ourselves. I have taken 6am flights, given a choice I will give myself an extra hour of sleep.

I strongly believe in the power of sleep, I try to give myself 7-8 hours on most days. If I am not travelling, I wake up in my Hoboken apartment and start my day with a cup of coffee and news on my phone like a true millennial.

After getting up to speed with the world and my family, I check my emails and typically have a to-do list for the day with my teams and client work. After daily scrum calls and a light breakfast I typically workout for an hour with my trainer on Zoom (a COVID learning). I work through the day and eat lunch on the go during calls and take a 15 minute walk/stretch between the day.

One of my mentors once told me, there will always be work so you have to take the initiative to draw a line which works for you. I try to end work in the evenings and step out for a walk, meet a friend, run errands, have dinner with Netflix and if needed log back at night for time sensitive issues. 

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

Deloitte has been very supportive of flexible/remote working. We are following virtual first and have the option to go into the office if we feel comfortable and meet our clients and teams for “moments that matter” such as team building workshops, leadership labs, onboarding a new team member, etc.

In some ways it’s been the best of both worlds. We haven’t been doing the weekly Monday-Thursday travel but meet live as needed based on health protocols. I have been going into the office twice a week since Labor day. That’s a personal preference to see my team in person for coffee and have a change of scenery. 

I have taken advantage of remote work and travelled the country like never before. My friend had been doing a roadtrip and visiting national parks. I joined him for a couple of weeks and it’s been the highlight of the past year. 

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

I love my job, it’s an important part of me. One that I enjoy very much and am able to bring my real self to. I have also taken a conscious decision to not let it absorb me entirely and define me. It is a part of me, not all of me. The balance to be able to bring myself to work and have the time to cherish other aspects of my life such as family and friends, sports, travel, workout. 

Achieving this goal is a work in progress. Some days I do better than others, there are days I have to prioritise one over the other. For instance a go-live may require a few long days and work is my priority, on the other hand I am also taking a month off in December to be with family and completely cutting off.  

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

Absolutely! So many new routines. I don’t fly every week for starters. I had never worked out on Zoom until the pandemic hit. I used to have a 3 year, 5 year plan which I worked very hard to achieve.

The last year has taught us to be nimble and be open to change. Because situations around us will change and so will we. I am not the same person I was a year ago, I was so used to 100 miles/hour, I don’t think I would have taken a pause for myself and now I run at maybe 85 miles/hour and make time for things that are important to me.

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

I am a Steve Jobs and Apple fan. I swear by the apple watch, I use it for my workouts, heart rate, quick emails on the go. Second would be AirPods which have increased my productivity on the go by listening to an audiobook or taking a call with an afternoon walk or just plain old good music to lighten up.

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

“You” are important, make sure to make yourself a priority. It starts with you. There will always be deadlines and promotions but your health and happiness is more than that. Do the little things that make you happy.

Rather than making big 2022 resolutions, focus on the small changes which will become a habit and lead to a lifestyle healthier for you. You will be surprised, by taking care of yourself you will be a better asset to your company and present for your loved ones. 

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About Author

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.