What We’re Made Of: Prashant Gaonkar, Eros International Media Ltd.

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What We're Made Of: Prashant Gaonkar, Eros International Media Ltd/

What We’re Made Of is a Q&A series that looks at how companies in the aviation industry are tackling challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve had to adapt to changes in where, when and how we work, but we are resilient. If you would like to share your experience, e-mail editor@apex.aero.

Prashant Gaonkar
VP Content Syndication, Eros International Media Ltd.
Location: Mumbai, India
Day 77 of working from home
Date of writing: June 9, 2020

Are you in lockdown right now?
Yes. Today is the 77th day of India’s lockdown, which is affecting 1.3 billion people.

Where are you writing from?
My current workspace is my drawing room at home. It overlooks beautiful gardens and the high-rise buildings of Powai, Mumbai.

How are you trying to maintain “business as usual” or communicating with your team?
We communicate with each other by phone and e-mail. The lockdown was announced suddenly in India, so we faced a few technical difficulties at the beginning, but our IT team acted quickly to offer support and to allow us to work from home.

What’s your new office attire or go-to comforts at home during this time?
My “work from home” outfits are completely geared towards comfort. Any t-shirt and ¾ pant will do.

How are you passing time?
Working from home and working for home! Hats off to the superwoman that is my wife. I understand how difficult it is to be a full-time home-maker – you work long hours, you aren’t eligible for any leave, there is no chance of promotion and, what’s more, there’s no payday because you don’t have a salary. I’ve started sharing more of the daily household chores. Weekday mornings are a challenge, as we have to settle our 8-year-old twins into their daily routines while I also do my office work. It means my working hours have been extended until late evening.

Initially, we all felt like lockdown was a punishment, but now I feel like it has provided us all with a new lease on life. On weekends, I spend quality time with my family. We try to do something creative – cooking together, rearranging the wardrobe or even catching up on online content. I call far away relatives and my industry friends.

Prashant working opposite his eight-year-old twin boys in his drawing room at home.

Can you describe any new working procedures that you have/will implement in light of new health and safety guidance?
Our Government is now allowing up to 10% of the company to be physically present in the office. They must travel by their own transport, wear a mask, wash their hands at regular intervals and undergo temperature checks. Our offices have been thoroughly sanitized and we have trained support staff to maintain hygienic conditions and exercise all precautionary measures.

Some companies may have been inspired to create new product lines, or redesign existing product or services as a result of the pandemic. How is it driving innovation?
COVID-19 has reportedly resulted in a rise in the number of people using OTT platforms and consuming online content around the globe. We used this as an opportunity. To help beat lockdown boredom, we began offering a two-month free Eros Now subscription. A similar offer was extended to one of our airline clients, Cathay Pacific.

Describe where your business was at the end of 2019. What were your goals/projections for 2020?
At the end of 2019, our business was in a restructuring phase, which had become more challenging by March 2020 with the outbreak of COVID-19.  We had to revisit our goals and projections – the pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on our IFE business, with multiple sales bookings having been postponed or simply cancelled. However, we did have some very positive news about our merger with Hollywood studio STX Entertainment and the creation of Eros STX Global Corporation.

Where do you see your company in six months from now?
Following our merger with STX Entertainment, we are looking at expanding our pipeline of feature films, episodic libraries and original content to cater to a growing global audience.

Read more about the coronavirus impact on the air travel industry, including APEX’s position on the matter, and subscribe to the APEX Daily Experience newsletter to stay up to date.

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