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Raj Narayan

Degree:

MBA

Location:

UK

Industry:

Professional Services

Year:

2000

By Raj Narayan

My 17-year journey to mindfulness from the Oxford MBA

When I was doing my MBA (1999-2000) I never thought that my career would take such a varied journey. The MBA programme was great. I think the best part of the programme was that it gave me confidence to take risks that I would probably not have taken. It provided me with a can-do attitude.

After the MBA, I followed the traditional banking career route and then became a trader as I liked the idea of putting my money where my mouth is. What I had not planned for was trading during the financial crisis. I was a fixed income trader, trading high yield bonds and credit derivatives from 2007 to 2010.

I remember during the financial crisis there were times when my profit and loss statement would be up or down a million within an hour and I would have no control as the market was broken and it was virtually impossible to get out of positions. For me the peak of the crisis was calling my sister in August 2008 and asking her to buy baby food for at least 2 months for my nephew as I was concerned that the entire financial system was collapsing. I noticed banks were not confident of doing business with each other.

This was having a major impact on my physical, mental and emotional wellbeing but I do not think I was even aware of it then. I started to notice that many of my colleagues were struggling emotionally and there were a few who had a breakdown. The only wellbeing practice I was following, besides eating a lot, was going to yoga off and on. I became a big chap, slightly irritable and anxious and was not sleeping too well. However, I did notice that I was still a lot more positive than many of my colleagues in the industry. Then I realised that this was possibly due to the yoga and meditation I had started to do and not because of my excessive eating.

In 2012, I luckily got a mindfulness practitioner as a coach who really helped me to become more aware of my mental, physical and emotional state. I started the journey to get more resilient. I started to lose weight, became happier and many of my friends asked me to share the ‘happy pills’ they thought I was taking. I attribute my increase in self-confidence and self-belief to my mindfulness practices.

I decided to leave the banking industry in April 2015 and joined a charity on a year-long secondment. The charity is called Business in the Community, The Prince’s Responsible Business Network. In my role as Business Connector, I promoted education, employment and social cohesion in the deprived area of Tower Hamlets. It was my job to understand the needs of organisations (could be a small business, charity, school, university) and connect them to other organisations that could fulfil the need. This was a great experience and I noticed how so many charities with so little were able to do so much more.

As I wanted to continue to help people, I started my own wellbeing company in January 2017. Based in London, we specialise in the financial and legal sectors, attracting clients from middle to senior management. Our aim is to help people and businesses prosper, mindfully. We run sessions on ‘disconnecting from work’, ‘broadening thinking’, ‘stress management’, ‘rediscovering positive thinking’, ‘team cohesion’ etc., using the techniques of mindfulness.

I believe mindfulness is at a stage of acceptance in the business world as yoga was 15 years ago. In a few years, I think practising mindfulness will be the norm in the business world too and companies will be actively promoting it to their employees. Our vision is to help over 1,000 companies in the next 10 years. I believe mindfulness can help people become more aware of themselves and take better decisions impacting our society positively.

In May 2017, I started the mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy course at Oxford University’s Department of Psychiatry thus completing the circle.  I’m already finding that what I’m learning on the course is helping me take my clients to the next level, and ensuring that I am following one of my key values: practising what I preach. In this spirit, I have also this year started a bursary to fund the living expenses of a student from an economically deprived background. I have gained so much from studying at Oxford that it is rewarding to enable others to do the same.

If you think your business could benefit from mindfulness practices, please do get in touch, either via LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/yuvrajnarayan/  or email to raj@wellbeingcapitalpartners.co.uk

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  • danny_bluestone

    This is a very inspiring story

  • R Cariappa Chengappa

    Nicely put – it is so easy to neglect physical, mental and emotional wellbeing in the pursuit of success!