In our latest episode, Murthy sits down with Jack to share her journey from humble beginnings to the pinnacle of the corporate world, and some of what she learned at top finance positions with companies including PepsiCo and American Express. She shares how to become a board member, how she handled the challenges of being a working parent and why being a mentor is as fulfilling for the mentor as it is for the mentee.
Listen by clicking below. The Q&A, lightly edited and trimmed for clarity, follows.
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My guest is Mala Murthy. She is the CFO of Teladoc Health. Mala is one of the more interesting paths to the C-Suite that I’ve come across. Mala, welcome to the show.
Thank you, Jack.
I’m excited to have you. I’m a little bit familiar with Teladoc Health partly because I am researching this. Why don’t you share a little bit about what’s going on at Teladoc Health and your background there?
Let me start with Teladoc Health. We are the global leader in virtual whole-person care. What we focus on is helping people live their healthiest lives every day. We have more than 83 million members on our platform. We provide access to the care our members need, whether it be primary care, taking care of their chronic conditions, mental health, specialty care like joint and back pain, and urgent general medical needs like if you have cold, sniffles, etc.
The way we think of ourselves is we take care of the whole person, whether it be physical or mental, because health conditions don’t exist in a vacuum. Our belief and mission is care shouldn’t either. That’s a little bit of what Teladoc does. I have been Teladoc Health’s CFO since the middle of 2019. It certainly has been a fascinating time for the company. I joined nine months before Covid, and it has certainly been an amazing experience for me as the CFO for the company.
It’s interesting because you mentioned taking care of the whole person’s mental health. Perhaps because of Covid but certainly, since Covid, there has been more respect and concern with companies for the mental health issues of their employees. Your timing of joining shortly before Covid is interesting. Did that transform the company in any interesting way?
I remember vividly the early days of Covid. You will relate to this, Jack. We were all coming to grips with it as consumers, providers and as companies. For us, it was essentially all three. We are a company that is a provider or that provides care and we have our own employees to take care of. Think about us having to learn how to operate differently across all of those different facets and dimensions. I still vividly remember those early days in March, April and May of 2020 when our daily visit volume went up fourfold or fivefold on any particular day. We had to still operate our platform. I’m proud to say we are one of the very new virtual care companies whose platform never went down.
We were able to handle the very significant spikes in daily visit volume and be there for our members and clients. As time rolled on like all other companies, we learned to adapt in different ways. I’m sure you have talked to a lot of people about hybrid work. We were all virtual for a bit of time and then we started becoming more hybrid. We want to return to office protocol and the pros and cons of it. Through it all, we continue to provide care. It’s been an interesting experience. The other aspect that Covid certainly has changed is the overall acceptance of virtual care.
Prior to Covid, there was a growing awareness and acceptance of it from a consumer standpoint. What Covid changed is it brought in much greater acceptance from a provider and a physician standpoint. As you know, many of the brick-and-mortar physicians had closed their offices overnight, so they learned the benefit of providing care virtually. One of the great changes in a helpful way of Covid has been the overall acceptance of virtual care both from a consumer perspective, as well as a physician and provider perspective.
I guess necessity is the mother of invention. The doctors that I know are extraordinarily committed to their patients. They weren’t going to say, “We’re out of luck. I hope things work out for you. Let’s get together when this crisis ends.” They were going to adapt to technologies and find a way to give care to their patients. It had to make sense on both ends too. There were months you couldn’t go to the doctor for non-emergency stuff.
That’s exactly right. One of the things you picked up on that is so true is mental health. We have seen such an amazing acceptance of the virtual care modality in mental health. If you look at our own company’s performance, look at the growth of mental health, whether it be on the direct-to-consumer side. We have a mental health direct-to-consumer business, which goes by the name of BetterHelp. When you look at our mental health on the B2B side, the company’s performance reflects the acceptance of the virtual care modality.
I want to chat a little about your own background. To me, this is remarkable, given everything that you’ve accomplished in your career. I heard you once say that you still feel like the little girl who grew up in India to a certain extent. What was that like growing up in India? Maybe you can tell us what brought you to the United States.
I grew up in a very average middle-class family in India. I grew up in Calcutta. For those who don’t know, Calcutta is one of the largest and most densely populated cities in India. I grew up in a time when the resources of the city I grew up in were often maxed out. What that meant is there were many years when I did all of my studying without electricity because electricity was scarce because the city was growing so rapidly. It sounds strange if you look at the India of today, which has grown by leaps and bounds in the last three decades.
I say this for a reason. While I grew up middle class, my incredible advantage was the mindset that my parents had. My parents were different from many other of my friend’s parents. They never believed that women or girls were any different from men. They instilled that in me from a very young age. I grew up knowing that I had no boundaries virtually. If I applied myself or worked hard, I could achieve what I wanted to. I was aware of that from a very young age. I did well in school. I studied engineering after a brief one-month detour in medical school.
I definitely want to get back to you about that a little bit.
I studied computer science and engineering but I didn’t love it. I made the decision to go into business school and management, which I did. I finished up engineering and went straight to business school. When I was finishing up business school, I was all set to work in a multinational bank in India. I happened to hear that Microsoft was in town. I went to the hotel where they were interviewing. I presented my resume. They were frankly astonished because Microsoft at that time was interviewing the ITs all over India.
They had come to Bangalore, the city I was in, to interview with one of the institutes there more from an engineering standpoint, but they were accommodating. They agreed to interview me and they interviewed me over the course of two or three days. It was one of the most interesting thought-provoking interviews I’ve ever been in. Lo and behold, I got an offer. I was one of 29 who were selected from all over India to come to the United States. That’s the way I first came to the U.S.
That’s an amazing story. It’s interesting how many people who worked lengthy careers still give credit to the influence of their parents on the success they’ve enjoyed. We all have limitations but when your parents take them away, you can be anything that your talent and work ethic will allow you to be. That opens up so many possibilities, doesn’t it? It’s interesting because you mentioned growing up middle class in India. I grew up middle class in the United States, but then you mentioned certain things. The middle class in the United States in the 1970s meant that I had a summer home when I came to New Hampshire. At that point in time, probably our countries defined middle class a little bit differently.
That would be a little bit of a stretch for me.
Sometimes, I feel like it’s a joke. My dad was a mason so he’s working class, not middle class. Yet we had a summer home. My parents had two cars and stuff like that. That’s the reality of the country at that time.
It does justice to the American dream. That’s what it was.
One question I always want to ask CFOs is this: What was the first job you ever did of any kind, not a professional job but like in a restaurant or something like that?
My first job ever was the summer internship I did after my third year of engineering. You were required to do some kind of an internship as part of the four-year degree program. It was a very standard computer science internship. I did coding and was given a business problem to solve. If you were to ask me what business problem I solved, I don’t know that I even remember that, but it was a very standard coding job.
You have one of the better first jobs for my guests so far. One thing that I found fascinating about your own professional background is before working at Teladoc, you worked at American Express and Pepsi. I’m trying to find the common thread between these three companies other than they are all profit companies. What did you learn from those two companies that is still helpful to you? It’s such a different industry from what you’re in now.
I spent 17 years at PepsiCo. The years I spent there were formative for me from a career-shaping perspective. When I went over to American Express and now at Teladoc, I was able to apply a lot of the learnings I had gotten at PepsiCo. I also learned new things in both places, whether it be American Express or Teladoc. I’ll give you a little bit of a deep dive into each. If you think about both PepsiCo and American Express, these are companies that have been around for decades. PepsiCo celebrated 100 years when I was there. American Express very often in town halls will refer to the fact that this is a company that has been around for 165 or 170 years. The reason I mentioned this is there is a lot of pride in the companies.
It’s a pride to have been around and been excellent for a long time. You don’t get to survive and grow if you haven’t gotten that relentless culture of excellence and growth. That is what I grew up in from a career standpoint. At PepsiCo, I did many different roles. I started at the corporate treasury. I did corporate strategy and M&A. I went to work in one of the businesses as a CFO, then I came back to do treasury for a bit. I did corporate financial planning and analysis.
While most of my roles at PepsiCo were more of the corporate-type roles, my entire seven years in American Express were within the business as the CFO. First, on the consumer side, and then I was the CFO for one of three commercially reported segments in American Express. What I learned is the benefit of having diversity of experience. Take the risk, get out of your comfort zone, and just go do and try different jobs because you won’t love every one of them. You’d be good in some. You’ll be amazing in some and you’ll be mediocre in some others, but it doesn’t matter. In all of them, you will learn. You will hone your craft more and more.
I have trouble believing that you’re mediocre in anything. I think this is a little modesty here. I get your point. Generally, there are some areas that you’re going to pick right up and others are a learning curve.
The other thing is in PepsiCo, in all of the roles I did, I was lucky enough to work with leaders who pushed and challenged my thinking skills. How can I frame the problem better? How can I solve the problem there? Am I bringing my absolute analytical and creative best to the problem statements? How can I step back and think about the business and my job in a much more strategic way? What is the overarching content of what I’m working on? All of that, I learned at PepsiCo.
When I went to American Express, what was fascinating was that I was a little bit of a different profile with in one way. A lot of AmEx people are there right out of undergrad business school. They grew up in that company. Financial services tend to do that quite frequently. This is a regulated industry. There are people who live and breathe that industry. I was coming in with no background in financial services. It’s mid-career so I was a little bit different.
What I realized when I joined them was that the best way for me to establish credibility was to see it from the outset. It’s like, “I don’t know. I’m here to learn and contribute. There are things that I have learned in a different company that have driven excellence for a long time and I’ve learned skills that I can bring to bear. I just don’t know the business.” What I did in the first three to six months was I went around with people who are known to be experts in different functional areas. I would set up time with them and say, “Teach me. I don’t know. I’m humble enough to admit it and I want to learn.”
There are two things that happen through that. The first is people were so generous in giving me time. It was generosity on their part. The second is people realize that my style as a leader was to learn, be humble, roll up my sleeves and learn from the ground up. What I have recognized is that truly good CFOs are ones who are able to influence the business but do it in an informed way. Informed meaning they know the ins and outs of the business. They’re not coming in at the supergalactic level and talking about strategy and this and that without understanding how it works.
That’s what I did at American Express and I was able to demonstrate that. The other thing that Amex taught me was how to be an inspiring people leader. What’s fascinating is in Amex, for any job that you want to hire in your group, it’s a bit of a marketplace of talent. People want to work for you. You have to have the reputation of being a people leader. People didn’t know what I was like because I hadn’t been there for a while, so I had to establish my chops.
You’re almost like building a personal brand within the company.
I’m greatly off-putting that. I have to build my brand. That was what I learned to do at American Express. I fast forward to Teladoc Health. As the CFO of Teladoc Health, I am the product of all of the collective experience that I have gained across Microsoft, Sun Microsystems, PepsiCo and American Express. Consciously or unconsciously, I am flexing all of the muscles I have learned and gained every day in my job at Teladoc Health.
This is a question that I get asked a lot from my members. They’ll take themselves out of a role because it’s not an industry they know. They’re like, “I’ve always worked in tech. I don’t know that I can succeed in life sciences,” or whatever it might be. How should I answer them? In the old days, the CFO could work at any company because we’re a back-office job. You just reported what happened after. Now it’s strategic front lines making a difference, which makes transitions between industries harder in some sense. What advice could you share with people who are thinking, “This is a great opportunity?”
It’s something I have done four times. I started off at a bank, CPG, financial services, and now healthcare. Here’s what I would say. The first thing is being very good at your craft. The CEO of PepsiCo had this quote. She always used to say, “Know what your hip pocket strength is. Have a hip pocket strength and know what it is.” I think it is important to invest in your career and yourself upfront to have hip pocket strength.
Know it, cultivate it, invest in it and grow it upfront in your career. The second thing is it is wonderful to move around different industries because they will force you to have a growth mindset even if you don’t have one. What do I mean by that? You have to show and have grit because there will be days that will be hard. There will be days when I feel like I know nothing. It’s like, “What am I doing here? How am I ever going to be able to grow, deliver a favorable value, help grow the business, make it more profitable and get to the right capital allocation decisions?”
Being in different businesses does teach you to have grit and adapt to different vernaculars, cultures and people. Learn the stated and very importantly the unstated things about different companies’ cultures. That grows you as an individual. It grows you as a professional but most importantly, it grows you as a human being or as a person. There’s a lot of fun in that. The last thing is to be prepared. As I said, have the openness and the courage to say, “I don’t know and I want to learn.” If you are able to do that and are open-minded to do that, you will have an amazing experience if you try different industries.
It’s interesting because I spoke to a very prominent PE investor. I joke now that people who know me know exactly who it is because I know precisely one preeminent PE investor. What he shared, the question was a simple one. What are the big traits you’re looking for now with CFOs? You touched upon two of the three. He listed inspiring, both trust and confidence. He mentioned adaptability and resiliency. The second and the third are the ones that you mentioned. It seems like those are critical things particularly for a CFO shifting industries.
It absolutely is. When you are going to a different company as a CFO, it is important to lean on your skills and strengths to be able to help frame, shape and articulate very clearly the strategy of the business. Remember, my job is to be thinking far ahead as much as it is to focus on the importer, the balance and make sure I’m guiding investors the right way. I am maniacally focused on how I and my team drive insights and the right decisions to deliver both short-term and long-term value.
I have always said this. Finance usually has a unique ability to do that because we sit in the middle of a lot of different things, functions and decisions. Done right, we should have the ability to do what I said. Help shape the strategy and drive decisions both in the near term and the longer term. Exactly what you said, you can do that if you have the resiliency, open-mindedness and clarity of thinking.
That’s the first time I’ve ever heard a CFO use the term maniacally to describe himself or herself. For the record, that doesn’t mean a maniac, at least in this context.
I don’t have spores on my head. I’m very normal.
I’m glad we clarified that. That was great. You mentioned working across functionally. One of the things about the modern CFO job is other than the president, and I guess you could argue whoever the top human resources officers in a company, you have the most cross-functional job in the company. You’re on a par with those other two, but we’re talking about the CFO role broadly. You’ve been a financial executive for 20 years. In your view, how has the nature of financial leadership changed during those 20 years, and more importantly, where do you see it headed in the next few?
There used to be, and even now, there are different flavors of CFOs. Depending on the context of the company and what is needed to drive value for the company, one could choose to play the CFO role in different ways. What do I mean by that? There are CFO jobs that are slightly more reporting-heavy and focused. That is one way of being a CFO. The other way of being a CFO at the other end of the spectrum is you are the right hand to the CEO. You are essentially, in many ways, co-thinking or co-leading the business with the CEO, and then there is the spectrum in between, where you choose to play in that spectrum.
For me, it has always been more fun to play on the end of the spectrum where I’m working very closely with my business partner, whether it be the president of the segment while I was an American Express or now with my CEO, thinking about where is the business now and where it needs to be years from now. How are we going to get from here to there? What matters? What’s important? What should we invest in? What are the things we need to change about our operating model?
What that means is being a CFO of today and in the future is about having a broad perspective on the business. Certainly, there are days when I am focusing on one aspect of my function or skillset more than the other, and I flex different muscles to different extents on different days. The weeks I spend before in annual release are very different from the weeks I would spend before we are doing our annual strategy review with the board, for example. We all know that.
A good CFO is someone who understands the business from a broad strategic perspective as a good eye and ear for what is happening external to the business. That is worth understanding, learning and paying attention to because you know it’s going to have an impact on our business. It’s spending time thinking about the externalities as well as what is going on internally. That is increasingly what a CFO is, a great thought partner.
I agree that is the modern CFO role, but there are still some out there who are clinging to the more traditional role. Probably in early 2021 when there were a lot of supply chain destructions and whatnot, that came up at one of our meetings. It’s like, “What are you doing in your role as a CFO to manage inventory and working capital now that it’s so much more difficult than it was two years ago?” There was one fellow in particular, a good guy, but he kept saying that it wasn’t his purview. All he needed to do was to present accurate financial statements and do the best job he could. That’s not an evaluated position in the modern business community. I don’t think a lot of companies want a CFO with that skillset and that type of mindset, do they?
I would agree with you. I hire strong leaders on my team who are able to pay attention and focus on something like what you referenced. The leaders I have and how good they are allowed me to be able to step back and think more broadly about the business. There are days when I will be zooming in on something with them because that is the need of the hour, the day or the week. The last thing I was going to say is more broadly and thematically across all the questions you have asked.
What I would emphasize is in my job as a CFO and as a leader for the company, it is my responsibility to have a great bench. I joined Teladoc in the middle of 2019. I remember sitting with Jason, my CEO, a couple of months after I started. I said to him, “I want to start building my bench.” I still vividly remember this conversation. He said half-jokingly, “You just got here.” I said, “Yes, and if I were to win the lottery someday, you have a nice pick of who is going to be my bench.” That is true for the CFO as it is true for every other leader in a company or a business.
It’s succession planning. We’re not going to be here forever. In fact, you even have mentioned the importance of hiring smart people. You even look for people who are smarter than you. That’s easy for me to do. I can pick people at random and there’s a good chance they’ll be smarter than I am, but you are probably a little bit more challenging. How do you find these people?
You find them. Part of being in the companies where you work is you develop associations, relationships and friendships along the way with people who you have been able to assess in pressure cooker environments, great moments and less than great moments. You are able to rely on your network, whether you include them back to the next place you moved on or they know of good people who they are willing to speak for. There is value in building a network of people that you are able to rely on.
The other thing is when you are hiring people, and you want to hire good people, it’s important to spend the time thinking clearly about the role that you expect them to play. I don’t mean the job description. It’s more as you are assessing candidates through the interview process, it’s important to think about the context that you are bringing them into. Who are their critical stakeholders? Making sure that those stakeholders have a role to play in their hiring. They own the decision as much as you do and then you are going to be able to set up good candidates for success.
That makes a lot of sense. One thing that also comes up is you refer to staying power in your career. I’d like to dig into that a little bit deeper. From where you sit as a CFO, how are you defining staying power?
Staying power to me is the resilience and grit that you demonstrate through the many different types of roles with more industries or companies that you are going to be at. How you cultivate and grow that staying power is a very personal choice of how you go about doing that. Definitely, your experience growing up has a huge role to play in that. I already shared my experiences growing up. That’s certainly taught me all about perseverance. The other thing that shapes staying power and is important for people is having failures. I have had many failures over the course of my career.
My first corporate experience in the U.S. was not a success by any means. I learned even now and many years later, there are still things that I took away from that experience that have shaped who I am. There are leaders who I have worked with along the way. Some who I had a great relationship with and others who were less optimal. As difficult as those experiences were for me, I learned from them. I have taken away things from both the good and much more importantly the not-so-good that have developed my staying power.
That’s one of the strengths of the American economy and others that rely on innovation. Failure is not viewed necessarily as a horrible thing. If you try and fail, as long as you’re learning from it and don’t repeat those mistakes, it’s not cast upon, but there are certain countries where failure is considered exactly that. It’s not that it’s a learning opportunity. It’s that you failed. I’ve heard from people that Google doesn’t have that high of a batting average. They reward people for taking risks and every time they fail, they learn something from that experience and they move on.
It’s about taking informed risks, making sure that you know how to take risk and that you’re asking the right questions. Also, there is an advantage to failing fast, learning from it, moving on and applying those learnings going forward.
Interesting stuff because I say reward people for taking risks within the company. Not crazy risks, of course. Encourage a culture that encourages that sort of thing. I want to chat a little bit about mentoring. Almost every successful executive I know had a mentor or multiple mentors early in their career. In a lot of cases, the person didn’t even know that that’s the role they will fulfill for us. Have you had any mentors that made a big difference?
Yes, I have. What’s interesting about those experiences is a very long time ago, someone who I respect enormously told me, “You are not told to be a mentor. The best mentorship experiences are where the mentor chooses to be a mentor to someone. It was not a structured program. It happened very organically and informally.” That certainly happened to me and I understand the benefit of that. It’s not possible for mentorships to always happen organically. It’s important to also have structured mentorship programs, which I have also been a part of and frankly, I have enjoyed as much. The benefit of mentorship is if the mentor and mentee come to the experience prepared, it can be a powerful experience for both.
The secret is that each party has to be vested in the other’s success. I know you mentor several young professionals. There might be some you don’t even know that they perceive you as somewhat of a mentor. That’s the reality. I already know what your best advice to mentors is and that’s to clear your ambition. Can you share what you mean by this?
I have had the benefit of being part of a number of women’s groups both at PepsiCo and at American Express. At Teladoc Health, we have a number of remarkable employing networks. We call them business resource groups, one of which is a women’s group and I am one of the executive sponsors. What I have shared with them is what I have found in the course of my career. By the way, this applies to me too.
I do think that I found it hard to declare my ambition, put it out there and state it plainly and unambiguously. Doing so does two things. One, it clarifies for me and for you what is it you are aspiring to be. Second, it clarifies for your company and your leaders what it is that you expect. What I’ve also shared is one needs to be reasonable and realistic. You have to be prepared and to be patient about it and demonstrate the grit and competence of the work ethic, leadership and inspiration to be able to get it. It’s both.
That is powerful advice. I want to switch things up a little bit. You’re on the board of a company called Avantor. They are a global provider for a very large company of mission-critical products that serve the healthcare industry. This is a natural tie-in to what you’re doing right now. A lot of our members and audience always want to get board opportunities. There’s certainly more now than ever for CFOs. How do you come across this position? They’re not exactly posted on job boards. How did you get the position and any advice you can share?
This decision happens to be through a recruiter. If you are interested in board positions, first of all, make sure that you have a diversity of experiences to be able to be attractive for board roles. I have truly enjoyed my time being on a board as it is a very different experience. I have learned a ton. Being a board member calls upon having a diversity of experience. Even though I have been in finance, when I’m a board member, I am looking at the business. I’m looking to opine on the business.
Having a diversity of experiences matters for board roles. The second thing is to leverage your network. There are people and leaders who I am sure you would have worked with who are on boards. It is absolutely okay to use that to leverage your leaders and the network to look at board positions. There are boutique search firms that do nothing but board searches. I have been reached out to by some of them. There are different ways. You can approach the board search and it’s important to have a breadth and depth of experience.
You mentioned that you’ve learned a lot from being on a board. What are the types of things that you learned as a board member that you can bring back to make you more effective in your role as a CFO?
When you are on the management or a leadership team of a company versus the board, there is this important line between governance, leadership and management. I am in a board capacity. I am on the governance side. I’m thinking about, “What are the risks?” I’m certainly listening to the management of the company talking about how are they going to grow the top line and bottom line. I’m also uniquely tuned into, where are the opportunities for them to grow more? What are the challenges and what are the risks? Ultimately, you are looking at the management team. They’re there for the reason they are, to run the company.
It’s fascinating for me to be on both sides because when I am doing my CFA job and now interacting with my board, it has made me more effective in having much more constructive conversations with my board and our audit committee in terms of what is our role from a management perspective where we should meet the decisions we need to make. Certainly, there are times when I will see our board and audit committee pushing. I am able to say, “This is something that is a management decision, not necessarily something that the audit committee or the board needs to necessarily directly drive.” That is a perspective that I have learned so much of since I have been a board member.
It makes sense. I’m on one board. It’s not a board of directors but I’m on an advisory board. I think I drive the poor CFO nuts with questions. You probably have to hold back a little bit giving everything that you’ve accomplished as a CFO. I wasn’t even that good of a CFO but you probably have to hold back and make sure that your advice to the CFO is going to be taken the way you intended, not just to come and say, “You stink at your job. Listen to me.”
It means cultivating a relationship with the CFO such that there is a foundation of trust. I’m not there to come in over the top and do a performance evaluation. That is not my job.
I’m not that bad but the reality is the CFO is more accomplished as a CFO than I was. I’m doing my job. My job is not to coach her in any meaningful way. You have a lot going on in your life. You’re a CFO of a very visible company. You’re on a board. I also know you’re married with a daughter and challenging to balance all of those things. Do you have any advice for working parents to find that balance? Before we begin, what’s your daughter’s name?
Her name is Ria. People have asked me this a lot of times over the years. I’d say the following, Jack. I don’t know that I have any magic answers or any wisdom different from what I’m sure you’ve heard many people say. What I know has worked for me is the realization when my daughter was about 2 years old that I wasn’t going to be able to do it. For example, I wasn’t going to be there at every school event.
I had to decide which ones I was going to be at, make a commitment to her that I was going to be at those and never miss them. There were many events that frankly I wasn’t at and it was not easy. I did the best I could in terms of making a commitment to her that I knew I would be able to keep. That was my way of juggling work, priorities, as well as life. These are very personal decisions and they will inevitably result in trade-offs and they are never easy. I don’t know that you can have it all.
In the modern world, it’s very different. Even when both parents are committed to it, it’s so hard. I think our kids are going to turn out great. If we miss the occasional event, we miss the occasional event.
You’re absolutely right. I have an incredibly thoughtful daughter and I’m proud of the young woman she is.
How old is Ria now?
She is 23.
Is she in school? Is she at the start of her career?
She’s officially off my payroll and gainfully employed I might say.
I have to tell you, that’s a CFO-only thing. My children are off my payroll.
Good for you. It is funny how often that comes up in my community. I know it’s important for a busy person that’s all work and no play. I understand you’re a rather serious runner.
I don’t know about serious but I got into running when my daughter was a baby and it was my way of having me time. It was my only me time. I never ran prior to that. It started as that and I have never stopped since. I run six days a week, short runs and long runs. It truly has continued to be the time when I am investing in myself and my health. I’m reflecting on the past week. I’m reflecting on the week or weeks coming up, whether it be the family things or the work things I need to do. It’s my me time.
That’s important. You’re putting me to shame because you said six days a week. It’s not that I don’t work out but I’m more on the six days a month schedule at this point. We always look for excuses. If you’ve been doing that for 20 years, six days a week, do you run marathons or half marathons?
I haven’t done marathons. I do it for myself. I do it to take care of both my physical and mental health.
They can’t have one without the other, as Frank Sinatra wrote so many years ago. I love to end with a fun fact. Is there something that people would find surprising about you?
I don’t know about surprising. I trained for many years as I was growing up as an Indian classical musician. I studied for 14 or 15 years. When you train as a singer or a musician, there are things you learn. You learn the benefit of practice and being at it every day, getting slightly better and better every day. Those are the things I learned.
It’s interesting that you’re a classical musician. You did start your career on the science side of things, but I know a lot of engineers and it feels like one out of four engineers I know are in a part-time band on the weekend. Is it the right side of the brain that would be a band or something?
The funniest thing is when I sing at home occasionally, my husband and daughter would be like, “Stop. No more singing.” Apparently, all the skills I learned have withered away, but I did learn. I did training for a number of years.
The only thing that prevents me from being a professional singer is my lack of talent. It’s funny because I have a normal talking voice, at least I think I do, but I’m such a bad singer that people are convinced I’m bad to be funny. I’m not. I just can’t sing for some reason. I can’t hold a note. This has been a great interview. You’ve had such an amazing journey in your career.
Thank you. I appreciate it, Jack.