Working Partners

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Retired Lieutenant Colonel SS Guleria was just beginning to wonder what to do with his free time post retirement, when his wife, well-known Punjabi singer Dolly Guleria stepped in and asked him to handle her professional career. "Colonel saab has a great ear for music and he is my biggest critic and patron," says Dolly, daughter of the legendary singer Surinder Kaur. "I look after everything from managing her communication to booking and organising shows, developing her website, promotional activities, and album recordings," says Col Guleria, adding, "Through all the years when I was in the army, Dolly looked after me, the kids and home. Now it's her turn to shine," he says. Together, the two have set up a studio called Do Re Me Company and a music school — Nightingale Music Academy to promote music.

Sounds unreal? Horror stories about ego clashes and personality differences might abound in the corporate industry about couples who work together, but there are some who would rather share their professional journey with their better halves and chart out a comfort zone.

Architect couple Anant Mann (41) and Siddharth Wig (45), who have been running their Panchkula-based architecture firm called The Elements for over two decades, say that they are each other's "best critics". "Of course there were hiccups, ego clashes, differences in opinions, but it took about two years to even that out," laughs Anant, who is currently on a holiday with his family in Palampur. "In any relationship, it takes time to gauge each other, to define territory and strike an equation. There were low points, there always are, particularly when you are a woman and clients want the man to be in charge. But it was our mutual respect for each other which helped us pull through such times," says Anant, who's chalked out the responsibilities. While she handles the design process, Siddharth pulls in the projects and closes the deals.

Does working together eat into their personal space and time, especially at home? "One would wish one wouldn't carry their work home, but it's difficult. Somehow work always makes its way into everyday conversation," laughs Siddharth who says he would never trade this for anything else. "I am working with my better half. We push each other to perform better and act as a natural foil for each other," he adds.

"Have you ever come across couples in restaurants, facing each other, but staring into nothing? I feel sorry for them. Not only do they look dead bored with their lives, they seem to have absolutely nothing to discuss or share," says Komal Talwar. Sitting in their posh law office in the IT Park, Komal goes over expansion plans with husband Jitin, even as they handle a team of 50. "It's been three years since we started working together. Jitin was practising in the High Court and I was fresh out of law school. I was never inclined towards traditional law, and so, together we got into International Law," she says. It has been a turning point in their careers and both have now branched into Intellectual Property consulting services. "Not only is it great to work together, there is so much more to talk about. Moreover, I feel we've grown together over this period," says Komal. "Any line of work requires brainstorming, trouble shooting and decision making. After working with Jitin, I strongly feel two heads are better than one for it speeds up the process and brings in two objective points of view," she adds.

It's a sentiment shared by Trilochan and Preety Anand, Managing Directors of Widex India, a Danish company. Anands are the sole franchisee holders of the company in India, which is into distribution of hearing aids. "I saw immense growth potential and thought it would be ideal to share my marketing and creative experiences to help set up the business,"

says Preety, who joined in 2002 and handles back office operations while Trilochan manages the clients and business affairs. "There were difficulties initially because things were sensitive. But now we are more attuned to each other's style of functioning," she says. "There have been clashes very often for he sleeps, eats and breathes work, and there would be times when I'd get upset and storm out of the office, only to return the following day and resume work! 80 per cent of our life centres around work, and we take work back home too. That's one of the disadvantages," says Preety. It's one

of the problems that restaurateur couple Priya and Abhay Jagat don't face. The duo, who have introduced the city to a variety of tastes, with their off-beat restaurants and unusual cuisines, live at their workplace in Whispering Willows. But that doesn't mean they have enough time with each other. "Our roles are not earmarked and with so much to handle sometimes we have to catch up over a cup of coffee," laughs Priya.

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