Tiba Raja | Market Financial Solutions
It can be hard to remember from this distance, 14 months out, the shock of that first lockdown announcement on 23 March 2020. We just didn’t know – anything. Then businesses were shuttered indefinitely. The panic buying started. And the grim death toll in the weekly tally of hospital numbers emerged. Overnight trying to plan or organise anything became like trying to get dressed in the dark. And yet without barely pausing for breath, Tiba Raja, executive director at Market Financial Solutions, sought and secured a way to help. On the day lockdown was announced she set up an initiative with Benares, a Michelin star Indian restaurant in Mayfair, to deliver freshly cooked, complimentary hot meals to NHS staff and Emergency Service workers across London.
The food packages, jointly paid for by MFS and Benares, have been delivered to Hammersmith, Charing Cross, Chelsea & Westminster and St Mary’s (Paddington) hospitals, as well as local NHS medical centres in Mayfair, Knightsbridge and Victoria. When the initiative came to an end on 3rd July 2020, over 5,500 meals had been donated to exhausted NHS staff treating Covid-19 patients. “I was lucky enough to deliver some personally, which I don’t consider to be a responsibility as such, I’m glad we could help,” says Tiba.
All this while she had enough on her plate (if you’ll excuse the pun). Working parents have faced particularly acute stresses during the last year. With schools and universities closed, and the uninviting prospect of being stuck in a single room in a house share for months on end, the young and young adults alike returned home to ride out the storm. For business owners like Tiba, whose two older sons descended on her for the first lockdown, this was another thing to juggle in an already busy career and while trying to react to the new reality of running office teams completely remotely. “That was certainly extra hard work,” she says, an immeasurable understatement, “it’s amazing how quickly they get used to mum doing everything for them again!”
Social media often presented the idea lockdown meant everyone suddenly had loads of free time. The reality was very different for working mothers in particular, who, the data now undeniably shows, shouldered the majority of the extra domestic duties caused by the pandemic, as well as being more likely to work in a sector hit hardest by lockdown closures. Tiba is grateful bridging, and so her business, has largely been able to continue –“We were fortunate to be very busy over the whole lockdown period,” she says. But that has only been possible due to break neck speed adaptations. “As a business owner, a large amount of work was needed in a short amount of time to make sure the infrastructure was in place for the whole workforce to work from home,” recalls Tiba, all on top of the business as usual.
Company owners are notorious for overworking and can be at increased risk of the burnout now emerging as a very real cost of the unfamiliar and abrupt adaptations we’ve all had to make over the last year. Running yourself into the ground risks not only your own health and livelihood, but the livelihoods of every employee working for your company. Discipline is required to find a balance, a strength Tiba found despite the increased pressure of pandemic working. “It can be hard to separate work and life when you are trying to do both in the same house, I’ve been regimented with having a working space that I then leave when I’m finished for the day,” she says. Lockdown has also taught her business isn’t everything, and to not take anything for granted. “We are a close unit in my family anyway, but I think we will make even more of a conscious effort to see each other regularly once things are back to normal.” A true Diamond from desk, to the domestic, to food delivery.