How I do it: Sunita Kaur

Spotify Asia's managing director tells us how music and a healthy lifestyle get her going every day

By ELLE Malaysia | Published: 28 Mar 2017

HIDI: Sunita Kaur
Photo: Spotify Asia

I am Sunita Kaur and I am the managing director for Spotify Asia. My role, since joining the company in 2013, has been focused on leading the service's expansion across Asia as well as managing the region's revenue division. Apart from that, I also oversee the growth of crucial business units in the region including partnerships, product programming, payments and conversion.

I am usually up at 5:30am and start my morning with a 30-minute run or a session of pilates. I am a firm believer of exercising in the morning as it helps set the tone for the rest of the day. I also make it a point to try to have my morning coffee with my husband before heading to work.

My beauty regime revolves around organic oils. From raw organic coconut oil to grape seed and castor oil, these products keep me fresh. My favourite make up item would probably be eyeliner.

My eating habits vary throughout the day. In the mornings, it's coffee and perhaps a muesli bar to complement. For lunch, I make an effort to eat with the Spotify team and what's on the menu is never fixed. I do try to stick to a somewhat healthy diet, so either salads, wraps or yong tau fu but of course, I do have my cheat days. That is when I turn to Mexican food – I do love a good cheesy beef quesadilla.

Mornings are a great time to work out; my daily run or pilates session form the staple of my fitness routine. When I travel, I pack my running shoes and find time between meetings for a quick run. I think it's important to be consistent and be disciplined with yourself when it comes to maintaining one's fitness. It has developed into a habit for me.

I am in the office by 7.30am. Going in early allows me to plan my day, go through any emails that came in the night before and to look through the various dashboards we have set up internally. It is also the time when I get to control the music in the office, just before the rest of the Spotify Asia team invade and the battle of playlists begins. My go-to morning playlist includes my personal Discover Weekly playlist and Hits of the '80s.

Once 9.30am hits, I am in back-to-back meetings and discussions till 5pm. As I said, I do try to have lunch with the team as I see the importance of connecting with them. This is definitely a way for me to check in from both a professional and personal perspective.

I usually end my work day at 6pm and I use the remaining time to relax with my family. I get three hours of work-free rest before going on video calls with other teams based in New York City.

My day is filled with meetings and tight deadlines, so time at home is about relaxing and finding balance. These three hours before my night meetings also mean disconnecting from my smartphone and laptop. I use this time to unwind and relax. It is important to have these moments to myself. I am in bed by 12am and falling asleep usually isn't an issue.


The best lesson I've ever learned on the job
Always be honest and upfront about your mistakes. Take a step back, reflect at the error and then move forward. I learnt this in my first few years into working life.

How I overcome professional setbacks
There is so much to learn from obstacles or mistakes. I believe we should see these hurdles as learning opportunities rather than setbacks. Some of the hurdles we go through in life can be good as they push you and help with character building. I have been retrenched before, I have made mistakes in my career but these are just part and parcel of life.

My secret to productivity
I do consider myself as a productive individual. I like to organise my work a week in advance. Once that is done, I set my mind fully on what is before me and focus on the end goal: accomplishment.

Best career advice anyone has ever given me
I used to work with, building up their Asia Pacific and Middle East operations. During this time, one of my bosses told me to get a mentor aged between 16 to 18 and I'm glad I did! Through the eyes of a digital native, I managed to learn so many things. This taught me that your ego has no place in the work environment.

Advice I would give someone aspiring to do what I do
I always tell my team to be prepared and have a sense of humour. The working world is never easy to navigate through but if you come prepared, you will go far. As Theodore Roosevelt said, "Keep your eyes on the stars and your feet on the ground." At the end of the day, you dictate your career growth and progression, so take hold of that and move forward.

My motto
Be open to change and to learning new things. I have learnt much from the various teams I have worked with. Regardless of their position in the company, they all have ideas and experiences that will help us innovate and grow.

What's on my playlist: Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol, God Only Knows by The Beach Boys, Tainted Love by Soft Cell, One Dance by Drake and When Doves Cry by Prince.
My perfect holiday: I would be happy to be anywhere with my husband; from lounging on the beach to being bundled up in the -25°C cold, I cherish these moments.
My perfect day off: My ideal day off would be me lounging at home with a good book or catching up on my favourite TV series.
My perfect night out: Dinner and drinks with good friends, filled with laughter and fun conversations.


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