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Sharad Barot: Everyone needs something they can run away to

By Caroline Okello | March 22nd 2020

Sharad Barot, Chief Operation Officer at Vitafoam

I never say no to any work. This mindset has propelled me to where I am today. I graduated with an IT degree and naturally looked forward to a career in that industry. I got an IT job in a mattress company but they also had me count mattresses in the loading zone. The next job I got was with yet another mattress company that was opening up an IT department. The first question they asked me was whether I knew about mattresses. Thanks to my previous job, I could tell the sizes of mattresses a mile off. I got the job. when the sales manager went on leave, I’d sit in sales. Thanks to my IT background, I was quick in retrieving data for customers. This translated to increased sales, so much so that I broke the sales record.

I left this company for another one that unfortunately shut down. I got the sales and marketing manager role with the company where I broke the record, worked for ten years, took up a sales and marketing manager role here at Vitafoam and steadily rose up the ranks. If I had said no to counting mattresses when I first started my career, I would not be here today.

The best advice I’d give is you’ve got to love what you do, and when you do something, give it your all. And study – it opens up your mind and broadens your vision.

I am a strong believer that nobody works under or above somebody. We work together because the common goal is that the organisation needs to rise, as each organisation has commitments to meet. And in my role, you need to understand people because everything boils down from there. If they are demotivated, nothing works. Managing 300 people is not easy; you need to be as good as a psychologist. I’m good at reading people, and that comes with experience. 

My favourite part of the day is evening when I get to go home. When I get home, I love spending time with my daughter. We usually have supper together every day apart from weekends. After she goes to bed, I turn into a couch potato and watch TV. I love watching documentaries.  

Everyone needs something they can run away to. For me it is photography. When I am behind a camera, there is no world that exists beyond that. I get lost in that bubble and forget everything else. Photography freshens my mind and helps improve my productivity at work. When I was a kid, every time I looked at an image, good or bad, I’d think of ways I’d take the picture differently. I bought a small camera and took pictures, which I showed to some of the people I looked up to. It boosted my confidence every time they told me I had a good eye. Time went by and I realised I was taking a lot of wildlife photos. Some of my friends were getting married and asked me to shoot their weddings. I shot weddings for five years and was very sought-after. With time I realised that was not the reason why I entered photography. My passion was wildlife and nature and, in any case, my work schedule was hectic. I gave up covering weddings all together.

Outside work, aside from photography, I love cooking. I’ve won cooking competitions. I also enjoy playing golf and travelling. I always take the camera with me to capture nature’s beauty.

I don’t have a particular time for coming in or leaving the office. It all depends on what I need to achieve in any particular day. I usually plan my week on Mondays and I know what I am going to do throughout the week and who I need to meet and in between when I get time, I go to the golf course.

There is a lot of firefighting when you’re working in a big organisation, and I love the challenge. It’s like every day you’re thrown a puzzle, and it is up to you to solve it.

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