Challenges offer powerful career lessons
Challenges and change have played an essential role in my life. Though my early childhood was spent in South India, my family moved a lot, so my formative years were spent across different cities in India. Living in Chennai and Hyderabad helped me understand different cultures and broaden my outlook towards life. Later, I moved to Delhi to complete my education and take up Chartered Accountancy, which also fuelled my passion for travelling as I traversed the length and breadth of India for audits, including visiting tea plantations in remote regions of Bengal and Assam.
After completing my Chartered Accountancy studies as an "all-India rank holder", I was offered a host of promising jobs. I joined HCL Corporation as a Senior Management trainee, and was placed in their fast track programme. I grew very quickly within the organization and was promoted five times in three years.
When the going gets tough
The story of how I moved from HCL to Landmark Group is an interesting one. While on a holiday in Dubai in 1994, I had an opportunity to meet with Group Chairman Micky Jagtiani and we discussed some possible roles for me in the Landmark Group. However, I never heard back for nearly a year and a half. Then, in early 1996, I received a call from the Group and joined in April that year as Finance Manager at Jebel Ali, UAE. I soon moved to Home Centre as Finance Manager for the UAE territory. A year and a half later, I was in Cyprus as the Territory General Manager. Heading Cyprus was particularly difficult as we faced severe challenges in the country, and this period was perhaps the biggest low point of my life. But I remained confident in my own abilities, keeping in mind the saying "When the going gets tough, the tough get going."
In 2002, I moved back to the UAE for a brief stint before heading to Qatar as General Manager, where I put many of the lessons learned in Cyprus to good use. Having led the Qatar operations of the Group for nearly seven years, I recently moved back to the UAE as Chief Executive Officer of Hotels & Wellness (I currently head Citymax Hotels, Fitness First & Funcity).
Lessons for work - and life
Most of us find it hard to see the value and powerful lessons that can come from challenges. What matters is how you transform your challenging experiences into a force for the betterment of your company and yourself. We are defined by the choices we make, and being responsible for the outcomes of our choices - no matter what they may be - is one of the great lessons we can learn from our experiences.
My advice to upcoming entrepreneurs? Work hard and work smart. Do whatever it takes to stay sincere and motivated. Learn from your mistakes, be responsible for the decisions you make and - most importantly - believe in your own abilities to achieve, succeed, innovate and overcome.
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