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Morning Stars | Lace up and smell the coffee

Jaya Vaidhyanathan, CEO, BCT Digital, kick-starts her days with a run amidst birdsong and the aroma of Chennai’s famous coffee

November 16, 2020 / 07:43 AM IST

Discipline and ambition have helped Jaya Vaidhyanathan accomplish a lot in her academic and professional life. The CEO, BCT Digital (Bahwan CyberTek group), also brings a methodical approach to her mornings. Wake up time is 5.30 am on most days. A 5-mile run is broken down into segments of varying intensity. And the first meal of the day is in the 3-2-1 ratio (vegetables, protein, carbohydrates). Of course, the roof-blowing aroma of Chennai filter coffee further helps the Cornell MBA, Madras University engineer and former Wall Streeter to be on her feet before sunrise.

Excerpts from a chat:

Are you a morning person? What time do you get up on working days?

I am a morning person and am usually up by 5.30 am on working days. There's something beautiful about the sound of birds and the smell of fresh coffee early in the morning. It helps me start my day on a calm and positive note.

How many hours of sleep do you need?


Luckily, I am a sound sleeper and get 7 to 8 hours of shut-eye.

What would mornings be like at Cornell University? Can you share a funny anecdote?

At Cornell University, my days started quite early as our classes began at 8 am. During winters, getting to class on time was nothing short of an adventure as we had to brave heavy snow. I also remember signing up for swimming classes amidst peak winter. Trekking through the snow by foot to attend those classes was an ordeal.

Do you reach for your phone for news/ messages right away or do you stay offline for a while?

I do reach for my phone as soon as I am up. I catch up on routine office work, messages from family, news and other worldly updates from the past 7 to 8 hrs. Not a great habit, but it is something that I do.

What are the two or three things you do in the morning that are important for you to start the day on the right note?

Exercise helps me start my day on the right note. In a week, I run for three days and do weight training for the other three days. Sundays are more of a relaxing day for me.

Morning Stars

What kind of exercises and/ or meditation do you do in the morning?

Running is therapeutic for me and to a certain extent it is my kind of meditation. The reason being, on a typical five-mile run, the first mile is spent in getting into the rhythm of things; a chat with your fellow runner, perhaps. Following that is the harmonious rhythm of your feet. Running in Chennai has a charm of its own; the sound of birds, the aroma of coffee in the air, the bustle of the city gearing up for the day, and all other warm waking up sounds. Not to forget, the sense of accomplishment one has had after a good run.

What is your regular news source in the morning? And what do you have while you consume news (coffee, tea or something else)?

I am a digitally addicted person and read the news online. I prefer New York Times & Washington Post for international news, The Hindu and Times of India for national news and of course there is Google. I sip on a cup of warm water with cinnamon and a dash of lime in the mornings.

What's a must-have component/ nutrient in your breakfast?

I have been doing intermittent fasting as a lifestyle choice. My first meal of the day is usually lunch at 12:30 hrs. I try to stick to a ratio of 3:2:1 with vegetables, proteins & carbohydrates respectively. Yogurt is a must-have component in my meals.

What are the two or three cities that you have worked in and know well, and what do you like about mornings in those places?

New York has an infectious energy right from the beginning of the day. I enjoyed walking to work on snowy mornings with the chilly air brushing across the face.

Long walks in California is something that I enjoyed on the days I did not run.

Chennai city wakes up quite early as a rule. Apart from its other aspects mentioned earlier, the artistic kolam (rangoli) in the doorsteps of homes adds to the beauty of Chennai mornings.

How do you decide what to wear at work? Is there anything you are particular about with regards to your attire?

I prefer semi-formals on regular work days and formals on the days I have client meetings. My wardrobe is not very adventurous. I tend to stick to dark-colored suits combined with light-colored blouses and jackets to go along.

Follow our entire Morning Stars series here.
Akshay Sawai
first published: Nov 16, 2020 07:43 am

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