Leading the Field

first_img Although the humble Californian would be the last person to call himself a kingpin, Keith Guenther certainly fits the description in more ways than one. First, he’s the founder, CEO, and central figure of U.S. Real Estate Services, better known as USRES, a national real estate service provider offering REO disposition, valuation services, and technology products. He’s also been a legitimate bowler since he was 10 years old, having at one point in his young adult life even considered going professional.But there are still more parallels between Guenther’s participation in sports and his business success; namely, the ability to balance individual with team performances, the wisdom and judgment of a seasoned coach, and the enjoyment of incredible staying power over the decades (not unlike bowling itself)—this year USRES celebrates its 25th anniversary.REO disposition, valuation services, and technology products have been around for a long time, and aren’t going anywhere. In fact, one could argue there’s nothing radical about the nuts and bolts of what USRES does—and Guenther would probably be the first person to admit that. What makes USRES special is not what its business is, but rather how it does business.In an industry notorious for its ups and downs, Guenther has expertly leveraged a trifecta of qualities to help his company weather the real estate storm cycles. He’s a keen observer and listens well to his clients’ requests. He trusts his employees to do what they need to do, when they need to do it. And he’s not afraid to take a less-than-common route if it’s the right thing to do for his business and the industry. More importantly, however, he’s done an impressive job of passing these lessons on to his team.GETTING INTO THE GAMEA near ringer for actor Sam Elliott in his Conagher days (with a matching mustache, to boot), Guenther founded USRES in 1992. At that time, rising interest rates, overdevelopment in commercial real estate, deregulation of savings and loan lending standards, and reduction in capital reserve requirements had converged. The United States was in the throes of the early 1990s recession, and multiple industries were reeling from the savings and loan crisis and accompanying real estate market slowdown. The Resolution Trust Corporation (RTC), created specifically to clean up the S&L mess, closed or resolved more than 700 savings and loans institutions between 1989 and 1995. Additionally, by 1991, construction on new homes had plummeted to its lowest rate since World War II. New construction prices had also fallen, and it would take six years for above-inflationary growth to return them to normal.Having been in the real estate industry for years, Guenther had already served time as an agent and managed offices, including a real estate office for major industry player Tarbell. But it wasn’t until a conversation with a fellow broker that the idea occurred to him to start his own enterprise. The industry buzz was that there was a need for real estate agents to help with the valuation side of things, and then, later on, with disposition. Guenther explains that the real estate market runs in 10-year cycles, and that he and others could see the savings and loan “debacle” coming based on what they’d experienced in the ’80s. Ultimately, he took the plunge. “We started with the savings and loan problem, the RTC auctions and all of that property,” he explained. “A lot of people didn’t understand what short sales were, which we were doing some of at the time, in the very beginning, so they said there was a need for companies like that. But this was all new. Obviously there had been REOs forever, but it was always in small pockets here and there, and there were certain agents that did it. It wasn’t nearly as large of an industry back then.”UPDATING THE TECHNOLOGYUSRES began making a name for itself in BPOs, appraisals, REO disposition, and default valuations in Southern California in its early years. But even as USRES was taking off, the industry’s technology, or lack thereof, was a major limiting factor. Guenther describes the landscape in the 1990s and even early 2000s as being in dire need of standardization and general organization. At that time, there were no widely accessible databases for listing real estate agents and other service providers crucial to the business, so Guenther began building his own.“Probably, if there’s anything that I’d say we led with, [it] was the technology,” he says. “When we started building all the technology that later became RES.NET, it was all for ourselves, because I realized there was no way we were going to be able to do all of this without having all of these databases, having all of this information,” he said. “I’m not a big tech guy, but it made sense. And it all just grew from there.”An online platform that can be used by agents, servicers, vendors, and consumers,RES.NET is a wholly owned subsidiary of USRES and was built to streamline all processes related to asset handling. Launched in 2003, RES.NET makes connecting, communicating, document trafficking, and report generation possible for users, with different levels of registration and access, depending on the user’s role. Appraisers, title companies, and eviction companies can register for free in order to receive business from others in the RES.NET community. Agents can choose from three subscriptions with varying degrees of resources and benefits, such as the ability to submit offers, add short sales, complete BPOs, manage properties, communicate with consumers, and store documents, task their own brokers or assistants, and even gain exposure to more than 140 servicers. They say timing is everything, and there’s no denying Guenther’s timing with RES.NET was perfect—industry demand was high and the internet was catching on like wildfire. (The percentage of American adults using the internet climbed from 52 percent in 2000 to 61 percent by 2003, the year USRES unveiled its technology solution.) “I always knew the need was there,” he said confidently.But aside from the monumental task of creating RES.NET in the first place, another challenge Guenther points out came in the form of standardization. What should be included on a BPO form? Should lots be described in terms of square footage or acreages? These and countless others were among the questions Guenther and his team had to resolve to bring RES.NET to life.“In those days, it was all faxing this and faxing that—you could barely read it. And how did you standardize what they would send you and the quality of what they send you?” Guenther noted. “We worked very diligently to do that. Unlike with appraisers, there has always been a standard for all of it, but with BPOs, it was the back of a piece of paper to just a few comps to whatever, and we just standardized that.”More than merely getting RES.NET off the ground, Guenther and his team—which currently numbers 100 employees across both the USRES and RES.NET sides—were formulating a better way to do business, dictating how processes would be carried out in the business moving forward, essentially shaping their industry. Not too bad for someone who’s “not a big tech guy.”And although RES.NET may have come second, it’s now one of USRES’ primary differentiators. Guenther credits the control his business has over the technology as being key, specifically the ability to update the software to include whatever they want, as frequently as they want. “We built an enterprise system, meaning it changes, week in, week out, month in, month out. So you’re not buying a software that’s going to get outdated,” he says.The CEO explains that clients’ needs and wants are all heard and recorded, and when RES.NET sees trends forming, those dictate the next round of upgrades. To build out major changes, such as new modules, Guenther says his company does some back and forth with clients who essentially agree to sponsor the work. The client provides data and intellectual property, RES.NET leverages said data to build a finished product that meets the client’s needs, and everyone wins.WORKING AS A TRUSTed TEAMThe process for evolving RES.NET is just one example of how the team’s ability to learn from their efforts and listen to a client serves them well. It’s an aptitude that comes naturally to Guenther and one he’s worked hard to instill in his staff. “We go in as a company and say, ‘Here’s what we do, what else do you need done? How can we fix those holes that you have with the expertise we provide?’” he explains.CFO Michael Bull is quick to point out, however, that just because technology plays such an important role in the business these days, USRES still practices human-to-human interaction at every opportunity. “Nowadays, it’s so easy to send an email and only work by emails,” he said. “A lot of us who grew up in this company realize that and know how important that still is.”It’s a perspective that’s also shared by Angela Hurst, SVP of Strategy and Development. “It’s a delight to be able to work with customers, to work with prospects and truly sit down with them … and say, ‘What is it you need? What is it you want?’ If one customer’s having a hard time, chances are, that’s a pain point with several other customers.” However, Hurst points out that it isn’t her job to always say yes. In fact, she says no a lot, which she says is never fun. “But I find that clients are so appreciative of being asked. … [the] mutual respect I think is put in place, because I think therein lies integrity. … [and] without integrity, it doesn’t matter what kind of product you have if you lack that.”This mindset among the leadership team was born of USRES’ beginnings as a service provider, a business type that undeniably lives or dies by the quality of care it can deliver to clients. Eventually, after USRES had an actual product to offer in the shape of RES.NET, that same “customer-comes-first” mentality survived and spread into every aspect of how the company does business. It’s why a number of their clients have been with them for 15, even 20 years.Guenther calls building that kind of client loyalty a “lost art.” He insisted, “You need to find out what is [the client’s] pain point? Because if you can fix that, then you become a partner. Once you become a partner, then you have open communication with your client. Then it’s very easy to grow and know: What direction do I go in? What products? Listen. The client will tell you.”Rida Sharaf, SVP of USRES Operations, said, “We’ve always run the company with a ‘mom-and-pop’ type of feel. Our clients always have access to us. If the client doesn’t wish to go through an automated call center, we will make it so. So customer service is still paramount.”The fact that USRES’ employees have so capably picked up Guenther’s customer service torch and ran with it says a lot not only about their skills, but also about the CEO’s leadership style. In many ways, Guenther’s staff members paint him as their big-hearted coach, a veteran leader who encourages his team to cultivate their own problem-solving skills and who generally supports their game-time decisions. Sharaf stated, “We have a very unique management hierarchy, which enables all of us business unit leaders to really put forth honest input without fear of being labeled as someone who’s nonconformist. So we’re able to be very creative, and you know, credit given to our CEO, he puts a lot of trust in us and he sometimes will allow us to make the decision that we think is the most prudent.”This trust encourages staff to leverage their collective brainpower and experience. Guenther says he believes this helps the employees feel like they’re integral to the company, which fosters ownership in their actions that fosters a deep sense of caring.“As companies grow, you have to let go,” explained Guenther, a father to five and grandfather to seven. “I’m a sports guy, so I take a lot from coaching. I can’t play the game when I’m coaching. My job is to be able to get the right people to do it.” He continued, “I think my style, more than anything, is to stay away from cloning myself. A lot of people I know, who have been in the industry, they want to have likeminded people because they feel like a team. I do pretty much the opposite. I want to get people who see things differently than I do.”NEXT QUARTER AND BEYONDIn addition to really hearing clients and fostering a culture of empowerment among the entire staff, USRES’ willingness to adapt to the economic times has granted the company admirable longevity. The company experienced rapid growth in 2006 and 2007, totaling more than 300 employees at one point to keep up with demands that were increasing as the housing bubble began to deflate. By then, the reputation USRES had built for itself over the past decade, along with the healthy client relationships and their new technology, RES.NET, positioned them well for business.Guenther says the next bubble is coming, although it won’t be anything like the last one the country saw. And until the next wave of REOs arrives, he’s looking to add more products to RES.NET. Rob Pajon, SVP of Marketing and Product Development, said USRES recently launched a valuations portal. But what he’s most excited about is RES.NET’s forthcoming product called PropertyCure. Designed to solve issues of workflow fragmentation, PropertyCure will ultimately provide clients with a new dashboard from which they can enjoy an overview of their property preservation and claims processes. Pajon explained that historically the databases, image repositories, vendor management systems, and others used by clients don’t communicate well with one another. Hence, the need for multiple portals within RES.NET. But this will all be improved with PropertyCure’s implementation—it will go live with select clients by the end of July.Pajon said relationships with hedge funds and investors in the Wall Street space will be another focus for the company in the days ahead. “[They’ve] become more of the end decision-maker,” he said, explaining that right now he sees these industry influencers trying to acquire nonperforming loans, meaning they’re in need of good valuations to ensure they’re getting a good return on the investment. Pajon also points out rental prices are currently high, so the company is training all its agents how to do rental analysis reports in an effort to offer additional value to their clients.Suffice it to say, no matter what USRES has to weather in the future, Guenther and his team will continue to trust one another, to uncover clients’ pain points and, well, maybe even invent a new way of doing things, if that’s what the climate of the industry demands. “We listen and we come up with solutions,” Guenther said. “Whether it’s by hand or technology, you’ve got to be able to do it differently.” Major points, Coach. Demand Propels Home Prices Upward 2 days ago Keith Guenther REO RES.NET 2017-07-04 Marie Look Tagged with: Keith Guenther REO RES.NET Related Articles The Week Ahead: Nearing the Forbearance Exit 2 days ago in Daily Dose, Featured, Foreclosure, Headlines, News, Print Features, REO, Technology The Best Markets For Residential Property Investors 2 days ago About Author: Marie Look Servicers Navigate the Post-Pandemic World 2 days ago Marie Look is a writer and editor specializing in technology and luxury lifestyle content. She’s worked with print and digital publications across the country, and was the founding editor-in-chief of Modern Luxury Scottsdale magazine. Most recently, she built content teams for two West Coast technology startups. Sign up for DS News Daily Previous: They Don’t Spend Like They Used to Next: Strangled by Restriction—Effects of Disastrous Appraisal Training Mandates Leading the Field Servicers Navigate the Post-Pandemic World 2 days ago Governmental Measures Target Expanded Access to Affordable Housing 2 days ago Data Provider Black Knight to Acquire Top of Mind 2 days ago Share Save Governmental Measures Target Expanded Access to Affordable Housing 2 days ago Home / Daily Dose / Leading the Field July 4, 2017 1,972 Views The Best Markets For Residential Property Investors 2 days ago Demand Propels Home Prices Upward 2 days ago  Print This Post Data Provider Black Knight to Acquire Top of Mind 2 days ago Subscribelast_img read more

KA crossing lethal

first_imgOxford City Council has still not reviewed the junction outside the Kings Arms, despite the death of a student there in 2007.As a result, a motion for road safety outside the Kings Arms has been passed without opposition at this week’s OUSU council. It proposed an urgent review into the safety of the junction, and suggested a pedestrian crossing be installed, as well as road markings for cyclists.There is currently an online petition for the improvement of road user safety outside the Kings Arms, which has been signed by more than 680 people. The petition states that “Hundreds of road users every day have to double-guess each others actions and this can be fatal once again if someone is in a rush. The council must drop its excuses and act now.”The petition proposes an immediate installation of cyclist and pedestrian lights on the junction, as well as a new configuration of traffic lights sequence, which will ensure safety and peace of mind for all road users.The OUSU motion suggested that the petition should be promoted through local media in order to elicit action from the Council.It is also stated in the petition that the council spent time discussing with the university representatives ways of improving safety at the junction and decided on creating a space similar to the one in front of the Clarendon Centre, which would be incorporated into a major re-design of Broad Street.Leah Jesnick, a first-year at St Hugh’s student commented: “My friend almost got run over on that junction. It is very irresponsible of the Council to not have done anything about it.”Another student said “I always jump the lights in that junction. I know that it is dangerous but otherwise you have to wait for ages to be able to cross.”Oxford City Council released a statement which read, “Work to look at possible alterations for this junction is ongoing and the council is planning to go to a stakeholder consultation soon on an outline scheme, which includes removing traffic signals.”“The council has had to take into account Oxford University’s plans for major alterations to the Bodleian New Library on the north side of Broad Street to see how their plans will interact with ours.”There are also no provisions at the junction to assist people with disabilities.last_img read more

Angry Raiders fans show more fight than team after final Oakland home game

first_imgThe Raiders have long been done with Oakland, their 2020 move to Las Vegas the result of years of apathy toward the Northern California town.On Sunday, after the team’s last home game in the region, Oakland showed — in over-the-top fashion — that it was done with the Raiders. Black hole tosses garbage onto the field as Raiders lose their last game in Oakland in the final minute. pic.twitter.com/mhv4gRr1LG— Torrey Hart (@torreyhart) December 16, 2019Derek Carr gets booed off the field after the #Raiders blow a 4th quarter lead in their final game in Oakland.(via @StanfordVoice) pic.twitter.com/Qo4Wuty7YE— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) December 16, 2019MORE: Updated NFL playoff pictureSeveral people appeared to be injured in the chaos. Security personnel and fans could be seen clashing on video.Things are descending into chaos in Oakland. Media has been asked to leave the field as security engaged in full-on brawl with a fan. Another woman gushed blood from her forehead, appearing as if she had been hit by trash heading for the field. pic.twitter.com/zOlImU7hEh— Torrey Hart (@torreyhart) December 16, 2019The Raiders’ departure marks the second Oakland sports team to depart in a short span. The Warriors moved to San Francisco earlier this year. And the A’s, who are about to become Oakland’s lone occupant, are not exactly in a stable position, either. Some fans charged the Coliseum field following a 20-16 loss to the Jaguars. Others remained in their seats but threw items toward the playing surface. Most people booed.last_img read more

English football ‘needs to wake up’ over players’ security: expert

first_imgHe said he tells them if they are with their family in a car and someone is following them, they should ask themselves: “What are we going to do to prevent them trying to stop the car?”“Do as the footballers did? Get out and confront them or dial the police, or beep the horn to bring attention to yourselves.“Or drive to the nearest police station or to a garage forecourt where there is CCTV?“It is knowing that. You have got to start somewhere and I believe footballers are not being given the right advice.”Bomberg says he believes one of the reasons for such attitudes is a lack of understanding of the concept of security.“I think that security for a lot of people is a dirty word,” he said.“They think of an old bloke falling asleep in his hut or some guy wearing a yellow vest.”Bomberg’s basic entry package costs a cool £400,000 ($490,000) and uses close protection officers who are normally ex-special forces or policemen.He said the approach of International Intelligence Limited, which he founded in 2002, was high-tech.“We can put a technical fence round your property.“If someone is outside and tweeting ‘I am going to (expletive) kill him’ they don’t need to mention the name as that will still flag up to us because they are using profanity and a threat within that ‘geo-fenced’ area.”Bomberg is unsure where the duty of care for football clubs ends.“I think the whole football business industry needs to wake up,” he said. “These men and women are the assets of the club.“Okay the club might have the bricks and mortar of the stadium but these people are the celebrities and what the sponsors are paying for.“If you have a vehicle worth half a million pounds would you leave it parked randomly somewhere in London?“They need to start to realise they have a legal duty of care, a responsibility not just to footballers but to families.”Share on: WhatsApp English football need to wake up to the threat to footballers and their families security in the wake of the attack on Arsenal stars Mesut Ozil and Sead Kolasinac security expert Alex Bomberg told AFPStroud, United Kingdom | AFP | English football clubs will only wake up to the security risks their players face when either one of them or a member of their family are maimed or killed, a security expert told AFP.The stark warning from former soldier Alex Bomberg comes after Arsenal stars Mesut Ozil and Sead Kolasinac were targeted in a carjacking attack by knife-wielding men on mopeds in London in July.The fallout from that incident resulted in the duo being left out of the opening Premier League fixture with Newcastle due to “further security incidents”.Bomberg, founder and CEO of Intelligent (UK Holdings) Limited, is responsible for the personal protection of nine footballers in Spain and France but says he has had no approaches from England-based players even since the incident involving German star Ozil and Bosnian international Kolasinac.He said he was surprised that super-rich Premier League players and clubs were underestimating the threat.“Footballers are more exposed in the United Kingdom, far more exposed,” the former aide to the British royal family told AFP at his office in Gloucestershire in the west of England.“I think we have a serious problem in the UK and it does surprise me how we look at it.“This is a really serious subject which needs proper attention and I can tell you what will happen; nothing will change dramatically until a footballer or member of his family either is seriously injured or killed.”Bomberg, who says he has been contacted by other players in mainland Europe since the Arsenal stars were attacked, believes footballers and their families are especially vulnerable.“I came across newspaper clippings from 2009 where they were talking about 21 robberies of British players’ homes in a three-year period,” he said.“That is 2009 so where are we now? We are nearly 2020, we were talking about it 10 years ago and it is still a problem today.He said elite footballers were particularly vulnerable because their movements are so widely known.“It’s advertised when footballers are away from home because they are playing football. Straight away that leaves them exposed.”The Ozil incident received widespread coverage because Kolasinac fought off the assailants, but Bomberg says that was the wrong way to respond.“He did what many young guys would do but he put himself and his friend (Ozil) in danger,” said Bomberg.“It could have ended in a very different way, we know how many people get stabbed in London every day.”– ‘Protecting clubs’ assets’ –Bomberg, whose clients also include celebrities, members of foreign royal families, lawyers and bankers — he will not divulge their identities — says he teaches clients how to deal with such incidents.last_img read more

Richard Maponya’s big dreams for Soweto

first_imgRichard Maponya will feature on the next instalment of Brand South Africa’s Play Your Part TV series on Sunday 24 August on SABC2 at 9pm. It has always been Richard Maponya’s dream to see Soweto grow. (Image: Facebook/ Richard Maponya) Maponya Developments +27 861 333 264 [email protected] • Agoa opens up opportunities for Africa’s female entrepreneurs • Soweto: from struggle to suburbia • South African businesses honoured • Boost for black-owned firms in South Africa • South African business magazine the best in the worldRomaana NaidooIt has always been Richard John Pelwana Maponya’s dream to see Soweto grow its own flourishing economy.Born in Limpopo Province on 24 December 1926, Maponya is a property developer best known for building a business empire despite the restrictions apartheid imposed on black South Africans. He was fiercely determined to see Soweto develop economically.Aged 24, Maponya – a teacher at the time – took a job as a stock taker at a clothing manufacturer. The manager sold Maponya soiled clothing and offcuts, which he then resold in Soweto. He eventually saved enough capital to open a clothing retailer in Soweto, despite being denied a licence under apartheid laws restricting business ownership for black South Africans. He had even hired the law firm of Mandela and Tambo to help him obtain the licence.Undeterred though, he continued his life’s journey towards entrepreneurial greatness.In the early 1950s, Maponya and his wife Marina (a cousin of Mandela) established the Dube Hygienic Dairy, which employed boys on bicycles to deliver milk to customers – who didn’t have access to electricity or refrigeration – in Soweto.In the 1960s, Maponya was a founding member and first president of the National African Federated Chamber of Commerce (Nafcoc), and the founder and chairman of the African Chamber of Commerce.By the 70s, his clothing empire had grown, and he had begun to branch out into other areas: general stores, car dealerships and filling stations. His most recognisable development though has been Soweto’s Maponya Mall.On 27 September 2007 Nelson Mandela officially opened Maponya Mall, one of the largest shopping centres in the country.Maponya secured the land on which the mall is situated in 1979, first on a 100-year lease. Then, in 1994, after several attempts, he acquired it outright.Continuing to grow Soweto’s economy, Maponya also established Maponya Motor City on Klipspruit Valley Road in Orlando East. The development included a Volkswagen and Toyota dealership respectively.At that time former Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe said the development was “another milestone for Soweto by the Maponya Group as they continue to build sustainable world-class businesses in Soweto”.Maponya Motor City was the first such business in the south of Johannesburg, and now the Maponya Group’s ventures include property development, horse racing and breeding, retail, automotive sales, filling stations and liquor stores.last_img read more

Modern parenting demands accessible father

first_imgA crisp Saturday morning in Baroda, and around 150 men have turned up to chat and mingle. It’s not just any conference. Fathers all, they have been roped in by their employer, ABB Ltd, the power and automation giant, to hear Rajalakshmi Sriram talk about fathering. Set amidst the sprawling,A crisp Saturday morning in Baroda, and around 150 men have turned up to chat and mingle. It’s not just any conference. Fathers all, they have been roped in by their employer, ABB Ltd, the power and automation giant, to hear Rajalakshmi Sriram talk about fathering. Set amidst the sprawling expanse of Maneja on the outskirts of the city, everything has an ultramodern sheen. But the chic wood-and-steel dcor, which usually crackles with professional energy, looks laidback and carefree today. Colourful posters hang on every corner, pushing for “child-plus-plus” attitude. Sriram, who teaches at the department of human development and family studies in MS University, belongs to the rare breed of scholars exploring the idea of fatherhood in modern India. She begins her PowerPoint slideshow: “Are You an Effective Father?” The dads fidget and cough.Himanshu Chakrawart , 40, COO, ChennaiTalk about catching the moment. If career moms’ struggles make daily headlines, the buzz around fatherhood is getting louder. “Women’s liberation has slowly but surely changed the context and substance of men’s lives,” points out psychoanalyst Sudhir Kakar. And dads, as the Baroda session indicates, are rising to the challenge. Expressing regret at not being able to balance work and fatherhood, they are talking about the need to be more involved with their children and trying to renegotiate their lives to allow for effective parenting. An ACNielsen survey this year revealed 74 per cent Indian men do not want work to take up all their time. And 50 per cent crave more time with family. Says Kakar, “This is one of the most striking changes associated with modernity in India”-a theme that underpins his just-released book, The Indians: Portrait of a People. In the West, a similar ferment saw the birth of Men’s Studies a decade back, questioning traditional forms of masculinity. In India, too, a redefinition of fatherhood seems to be underway.Why are dads stressed out?advertisementNew economic forces, such as global competition, create an increasingly fluid job market. It demands committed employees at a time when loyalty is low. Salaries are zooming, but hiring and firing are easier. Dads work longer hours to prove their indispensability.Shoulder more responsibility and risk or slide down the economic ladder, says the market. It prefers nimble, younger people with constantly adaptable skills. Dads are under pressure to acquire new skills and work towards a greater future.Invasive technology-from vibrating BlackBerrys, always-on Internet connectivity, to midnight teleconferencing with colleagues abroad-makes it harder for dads to detach from work at home.More moms enter the workforce.For every five men, there is one woman who works in an income generating activity in urban India today. Dads are left scrambling to become the full-fledged co-parents their wives now need them to be.Modern parenting, post-globalisation, demands a more accessible father. Families are child-centric, children don’t hold dads in awe. Fathers are not expected to be just the providers and disciplinarians. Caught between old values and new, dads are confused.The biggest pressure on dads comes from the new competitive global economy. The fluid job market makes more demands and fewer promises. “It requires people to shoulder more responsibilities and risk,” says Himanshu Chakrawarti, 40, COO of Landmark in Chennai, and an overstretched dad, “People are willing to work longer hours for a better future.” Office space has also become more comfortable and conducive for work. “The intrusion of technology-the Internet, e-mails and mobile phones- makes it harder to detach from work,” points out the IIT-IIM alumnus.And the family bears the brunt. For many years, a 40-something operations executive with HSBC (who spoke on condition of anonymity) played by his hard-driving boss’s rules-“living at work”, as he describes it. Then one weekend, his young son fell and cut his knee. To his shock and dismay, the child refused to let the father comfort him. In fact, he treated him like a stranger. The event was a turning point. Although fearful for his job, he approached his boss and said that he had let slip the singlemost important priority in his life-a close relation with his son.”Judge me by the quality of my work, not the amount of time I spend in office,” he said. The request led to an uproar, but it probably helped the bank put people first. HSBC today is one of the few companies in India with employee-friendly, flexible policies.Guilt and regret are the by-word in many a dad’s life. Take a day in the life of Rajeev Ramachandra, 40, of Bangalore. As founder of Mistral Software, an embedded software product company with offices around the world, he’s on call 24X7. He logs in at work by 9 a.m. and leaves almost 12 hours later, bringing work home every day and working for at least two hours. That leaves him with an hour or so of free time, when he tries to relax, have his evening meals and spend time with his children. This, mind you, is one of his better parenting days. Nearly three weeks every quarter he’s on tour. “I feel I don’t give my children enough time. I try hard to keep my weekends free for them,” Ramachandra says ruefully.advertisementConsider L. Viswanathan, 35, partner with leading Mumbai law firm Amarchand & Mangaldas. His work easily takes up 14 hours on a weekday, most Saturdays and sometimes Sundays. Nearly four times a month it takes him away from home. “It’s painful when your little girl cries and clings to you every morning to stop you from going to work,” he says. Little Sivaranjani runs a moody eye over her dad: “Daddy is always in office.”A gaggle of similarly harried men stream through the consulting room of Dr Aniruddha Deb, a psychiatrist in Kolkata. “Most of them have winning careers, are in their late 30s or 40s, work round the clock, spend long hours in office, are busy on the BlackBerry or the Internet at home, and often on the phone with colleagues across the seas at unearthly hours.” In most cases, the “index patients” are children. Fathers come either because children’s “grades are falling”, or they are getting “difficult to handle”. But in the course of counselling it often appears that it’s the father’s physical or mental absence that’s at the root of the crisis.The ‘overstretched dad’ is undoubtedly a by-product of modern parenting. “It’s the shifting contours of the post-globalisation family that have created new circumstances for modern parents,” says sociologist Radhika Chopra of Delhi University. Fifty years ago, parenting was simpler for men. As the sole breadwinner, a dad’s responsibilities typically ceased the moment he crossed the threshold of his home. The father was more aloof and emotionally more detached. The breakdown of the joint family has lessened the father-child distance. The modern father, Chopra points out, “is no longer the patriarch at home”.BlackBerry vibrates. Call from dad’s US office for a meeting via teleconferencing. A deal needs to be finalised by following day. Dad struggles to go back to sleep. 6.30a.m.Alarm goes off. Dad wakes up groggy and decides to go for a jog. Fires off SMS-es to his staff before sprinting into the crosswalk with his i-Mate. Perfect time to grab the boss’s ear. 7:15a.m.Dad wakes the kids up for breakfast, catches the news on the telly, keeps an eye on the toddler and takes a look at 10-year-old son’s class project. Rushes to get ready for office. 9:30a.m.Dad logs in at office. Late by a half hour today. Got delayed by his baby crying and clinging on to his trouser leg. Nasty traffic snarl in front of older boy’s school, too. 7:30p.m.advertisementConference call with the US office ends. Dad feels obliged to go out for a drink with colleagues and clients. He calls it a day and logs off. 9 p.m.Dad arrives home. About an hour of playtime. Dad cuddles, reads stories, listens and also supervises math homework. He tries to relax and takes his meal. 10 p.m.Children in bed. Dad brings work home during the week (tries hard to keep the weekends free). He tries to wrap up a project for his forthcoming tour.Dad and mom watch television for a while. Dad usually finds it hard to switch off. But tonight, dad is out like a light the moment his head touches the pillow.The result is that the idea of the family, the hierarchy within it and the expectations from it are turning upside-down. “Kids don’t seem to hold fathers in awe anymore,” points out Dr Jitendra Nagpal, consultant psychiatrist with VIMHANS, Delhi. “Families are much more child-centric now and children are quick to grasp this.” He has had disgruntled teenagers telling him, “My father is a Sunday Father. I see him only on Sundays.” In a study conducted this year on 1,460 adolescents by VIMHANS, children’s disappointment with fathers comes across clearly: 73 per cent prefer to discuss issues troubling them with friends, and only 13 per cent with parents. They cite an absentee father as the reason for shunning the parental ear. In yet another VIMHANS study in 2005, teachers across the country claimed, 70 to 80 per cent of fathers do not turn up at parent-teacher meetings in schools. Kolkata’s Harshvardhan Neotia, 45, doesn’t remember the last time he attended a parent-teacher meeting. The industrialist rues that he is proba-bly one of those Sunday fathers for his 11-year-old twins, Parthiv and Paroma: “I’m lucky if I can say ‘hi’ to them on weekdays.” But the son has started asking for more time these days, says his wife Madhu: “As a solution, Harsh sometimes takes Parthiv to office.” Meantime, Neotia continues to be plagued by remorse: “There are some men who can take care of everything and still be home for dinner. I never seem to manage it.”The sense of guilt pushes some men to overcompensate children with expensive gifts. Chakrawarti, for example, recently bought a toy-scooter scooter for Rs 5,000 on his three-yearold daughter Anaya’s birthday (“She knows how to get me to say yes to everything”). Deb narrates the case of a father whose plastic parts business with Tata Motors left him with no time in hand. To compensate, he would ‘bribe’ his teenage son with a car, unlimited pocket money, even membership access for playing golf at his club. The son did not misbehave or lose interest in studies. “He just lost interest in his parents,” says Deb, “He was totally detached from anything at home.” The father made serious efforts to build bridges, but it was too late to reinvent the wheel. Psychiatrist N. Rangarajan of Chennai is not surprised. “It’s a common mechanism for fathers to compensate for their absence from home,” he says, “but very often it harms the way a child grows up and forms relationships as an adult.”Rajeev Ramachandra, 40, Mistral Software, BangaloreMuch more alarming is the way new research quantifies the effects of this physical or emotional absenteeism. In March, British scientists analysing thousands of babies born around the turn of the millennium claimed that children with absentee fathers score lower on tests of empathy, reasoning and brain development. They behave more aggressively, are more likely to have trouble forming relationships and are more reluctant to take responsibility for misbehaviour.In 2002, the US National Center for Policy Analysis had concluded such children were up to three times more likely to engage in a criminal activity, and a 1993 Harvard study had showed that the amount of time a father spent with his children could affect their ability at math and sports.The bottom line is, fathers are in conflict. Sriram calls them “transient, confused fathers” caught between changing worlds: “They were brought look at childcare as a woman’s job, they received no training in fathering, and they are confused about the longterm effects of adopting modern ways.” Studies show how conflicting ideas of parental roles within the family create further confusion. Sociologist G.N. Ramu of the University of Manitoba in the US has analysed how for many Indian women allowing a man to take up childcare violates their self-image as competent mothers and wives. In 2005, when Sriram interviewed 50 parents in Baroda, 38 per cent cited job context (lack of time, work pressure) for not being an active parent; 30 per cent mentioned “unsuitable temperament” and “lack of skills” to be an effective father; 21 per cent rooted for the fathers’ tendency to “escape from certain tasks” easily.What cuts away the ground beneath men’s feet further is the entry of women in the workforce. For every five men, there is one woman who works in an income-generating activity in urban India today. Having two incomes may have brought economic benefits to countless families and given women opportunities for fulfilment, but it has left men scrambling to become the fullfledged co-parents their wives now need them to be. A study shows that Indian men today pitch in 16 hours a week in housework-up from 1.2 hours in 1965. But the real crunch lies elsewhere for professional couples with matching incomes. “The sense of masculinity, more than fathering, goes up for re-negotiation,” says Chopra. Take Chakrawarti and his wife Raka, a PR professional. While she believes he should spend more time with their child, he thinks he does his best: “My wife may not agree with me, but I play with my daughter, read her stories and take her out whenever I can.””Whenever I can” is the operative phrase and professional economist, Omkar Goswami, feels most dads are overstretched because they don’t know how to prioritise their time. “Even at Infosys, which is known for its productivity, 95 per cent of men leave office by 7.30 p.m.,” says the man who figures on the board of directors of the company. “The legendary Narayana Murthy, founder of Infosys, always had the time to mentor his daughter’s education.” It also has to do with the New Age notion of ‘the complete man’, feels professor Mangesh Kulkarni of the University of Pune, who’s also the convener of the Forum for the Study of Men & Masculinities. There is a greater “civil privatism” in men’s lives today-“a withdrawal into the shell of private, family life and activities centred on shopping and consumption, rather than public engagements on which men used to spend a good deal of their time and energy earlier.”L.Viswanathan, 35, partner, Amarchand Mangaldas, MumbaiYet, for most fathers, salvation lies in the world of work. While the concept of progressive programmes is catching up worldwide, there is no law in force in India which entitles a father to balance work and home. A random check reveals that most corporates grant paternity leave for as little as two days to a maximum of three months. But already there are murmurs of change. HSBC bank has initiated measures-childcare centres to flexi hours to longer paternity leave. NDTV is a rare media company that provides for crches. The IT sector, home to the ‘best employers’ in India, is pushing for incentive packages, which include paternity leave. Some, like ABB, include fathering in social responsibility agenda.The easiest formula for men to improvise ways of boosting the time they spend with their children is to learn from their working spouse and be more like a woman. A tough call in a macho Indian society, made tougher in today’s highly competitive work culture, where staying late at work is considered a sign of an employee’s status and importance in a company. For most dads it’s the menopause syndrome all over again-does he pause at work and spend more time at home or will that mean losing out on the fatter paycheck, the fancier car, the promotion? Till that dilemma is resolved, the tribe of Transient Confused Fathers can only increase.last_img read more

U?19 Central Armed Police Forces football meet in Mumbai

first_imgMumbai, Apr 27 (PTI) An under-19 football tournament, jointly organised by the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) under the aegis of the All India Police Sports Control Board, is to be held in three centres here from May 2-9.The OORJA?CAPF Youth Under?19 Football Talent Hunt Tournament 2017, an initiative of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and featuring CRPF, BSF, CISF, SSB, ITBP and Assam Rifles, is being held at the behest of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, a media release said today.The tournament is being held ahead of the FIFA Under- 17 World Cup scheduled to be held in India from October 6-28.”While emphasising on the successful hosting of the event, the Hon?ble Prime Minister has said that this alone cannot be our final objective. FIFA Under-17 World Cup must be a catalyst for change, the tipping point for football in the country, which can only be done by creating a mass movement around it,” the release said.All CAPF units have been asked to conduct the Oorja? CAPF Youth Under-19 tournament in different parts of the country.CISF is conducting the tournament in the states of Maharashtra, Goa, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh and in the Union territories of Delhi, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, besides Daman and Diu.In Mumbai, the opening ceremony is scheduled to be held on May 2 at the Cooperage football ground, which will also host the finals of both boys and girls categories on May 9.The preliminary league-cum-knockout matches will be held from May 2 at the JNPT Sheva Stadium (for boys) and RCFL Stadium, Chembur (for girls), respectively.advertisementThe winner of the tournament in the two categories would be awarded the Shankar Subramaniam Narayan Trophy, the release added. PTI SSR RSYlast_img read more

TSX falls as energy stocks fail to get lift from highest crude

first_imgTORONTO – Canada’s main stock market resumed its downward trajectory Wednesday as energy stocks failed to get a lift even though crude oil prices hit nearly a nine-week high.There was a disconnect as the overall market didn’t benefit from higher commodity prices because of uncertainty over NAFTA negotiations, said Candice Bangsund, vice-president and portfolio manager for Fiera Capital.“We’re not there yet and I think the market is just expressing a little bit of caution there and just waiting for some sort of tangible news on the NAFTA front,” she said in an interview.“That NAFTA overhang has really weighed on the index fairly generally and the hope is that we do get some sort of positive news on that front and likely could see a relief rally on Canadian stocks.”The S&P/TSX composite index closed down 45.23 points to 16,049.02, after hitting a low of 15,993.58 on 266.3 million shares traded. The decrease came a day after the market hit its first daily gain in September.Market heavyweights industrials, financials and energy all closed down.Gold, materials and base metals led on the positive because of a lower U.S. dollar and hope that a solution could be found in the U.S. trade dispute with China after a report said that the Americans were seeking new trade talks before even imposing new tariffs.“We find this to be fairly encouraging and I think the market is tentatively, cautiously optimistic so that’s why you’re not seeing a strong relief rally,” Bangsund said.Offsetting the hope was a down day in the United States for the market-heavy U.S. technology sector.In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average gained 27.86 points to 25,998.92. The S&P 500 index was up 1.03 points to 2,888.92, while the Nasdaq composite was off 18.24 points to 7,954.23.The Canadian dollar was trading at an average of 76.84 cents US compared with an average of 76.22 cents US on Tuesday.The gain came as the October crude contract was up US$1.12 at US$70.37 per barrel, the highest level since July 13.The improvement was driven by the U.S. producer price index posting its first monthly decline in 18 months, a weaker U.S. greenback against several currencies and concern about the impact of Hurricane Florence that is set to hit the U.S. southeastern coast.“On the oil front we saw a larger than expected weekly draw down in crude stockpiles so this is contributing to an already fairly tight crude market,” she added.The October natural gas contract was up 0.1 of a cent at US$2.83 per mmBTU.The December gold contract was up $8.70 to US$1,210.90 an ounce and the December copper contract was up 5.4 cents at US$2.68 a pound.last_img read more

Public comment now open for LNG facility on Vancouver Island

first_imgVANCOUVER B.C. – The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency has to decide if a Federal Environmental Assessment is required for the proposed Kwispaa LNG facility.The project is being developed north of Bamfield on Vancouver Island.  The Federal Environmental Assessment agency is now seeking public input to help make this decision.This project would convert natural gas to LNG for export which would produce 24 million tons of LNG for at least 25 years. The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) is looking for the public and indigenous groups comments in regards to the project and the potential effects on the environment by welcoming written feedback to be sent by letter or email.All comments must be submitted by November 18, 2018, and are considered public.  The CEAA will post on their website their decision. If an environmental assessment is required the public will have three more opportunities to comment.Please direct your comments to the following;Kwispaa LNG ProjectCanadian Environmental Assessment Agency410-701 West Georgia StreetVancouver, British Columbia V7Y 1C6Telephone: 604-666-2431Email: [email protected]last_img read more

CPSE ETF: Govt eyes `3,500 cr from fifth tranche subscription

first_imgNew Delhi: The fifth tranche of the CPSE Exchange Traded Fund will open for subscription on March 19, wherein the government seeks to raise at least Rs 3,500 crore. The fourth Further Fund Offer (FFO), which would be open from March 19-22, would help the government in mopping up funds towards meeting its disinvestment target of Rs 80,000 crore for the current fiscal ending March 31. According to Reliance Mutual Fund, which is managing the CPSE ETF, the fifth tranche would open for subscription on March 19, for anchor investors. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscalNon-anchor investors, including retail investors, can put in their bids from March 20-22. This would be the second CPSE (Central Public Sector Enterprises) ETF FFO in the current fiscal after Rs 17,000 crore raised November 2018. So far, the government has raised a total of Rs 28,500 crore from rounds through CPSE ETF, including the first offer in March 2014 that mopped up Rs 3,000 crore. “The CPSE ETF is trading at very attractive valuations. As on February 28, the dividend yield of the index was as high as 5.52 per cent compared to 1.25 per cent for the Nifty 50… In addition, the government is also giving a 4 per cent discount to investors,” Reliance Mutual Fund Head (ETF) Vishal Jain said. Also Read – Food grain output seen at 140.57 mt in current fiscal on monsoon boostThe ETF tracks shares of 11 Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs) — ONGC, NTPC, Coal India, IOC, Rural Electrication Corp, Power Finance Corp, Bharat Electronics, Oil India, NBCC India, NLC India and SJVN. Through the latest offer, the government aims to raise an initial amount of Rs 3,500 crore and the offer size could be raised, as per Reliance Mutual Fund. After raising Rs 3,000 through New Fund Offer (NFO) in March 2014, the government garnered Rs 6,000 crore from the first FFO of the CPSE ETF in January 2017. Subsequently. Rs 2,500 crore was mopped from the third tranche in March 2017 and Rs 17,000 crore from the fourth round in November last year. The government has raised Rs 56,473.32 crore through disinvestment till February 28, as against the target of Rs 80,000 crore for the 2018-19 fiscal.last_img read more