Please share a small profile on your field of business and how you came into your current role.
If I say that I planned my growth trajectory then I would not be saying the truth. I always say that you start a journey and things happen. The most important thing is that you got to do everything that you do with passion and conviction. You have to be sincere, towards your work, your colleagues and towards yourself, and be sensible at the same time in the decisions you make. All this helps pave new roads on your exploratory journey as you set up your business slowly, fostered by the unique experiences you share with your team as you grow with them.
Whatever I have done has been accomplished through complete passion and dedication. It started off with my visit to Dubai, initially planned for a short duration but that has turned out into this long and fulfilling journey. Starting off by working for a construction firm, I later moved on to a steel trading company, and then into the roofing and cladding sector by working for a large and reputed British firm, before finally working for Honeywell. Here, I moved between sections, from emergency lighting services to CCTV systems and access control, and later fire alarm systems, before finally moving into security systems, my last assignment with the global brand.
I am happy to say that every project I worked on at Honeywell allowed me to leave a mark while working on huge turnkey projects. The experience on this job helped me gain the confidence to branch off on my own and into the field of emergency lighting systems.
Today, as the Chairman of SB Group and CEO of Netix Global BV, an Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) solutions provider, my teams and I focus on solutions for sustainable smart buildings, smart cities and energy efficiency, including the intelligent Integrated Command & Control Centre (iICCC) for remote monitoring and management of facilities.
My tenure as an entrepreneur has helped me and my teams to offer cutting-edge technology and services across the Middle East, Europe, Asia Pacific and the US. As the Managing Director and Partner at Teknoware Middle East, and CEO of ODS Global DMCC, Exenture Global BV, Netix Global BV and Exenture Films India Pvt Ltd, I have always had this urge to address unmet needs through innovation, helping me express my desires through an array of ventures that I believe are class leading in their respective spheres.
I also chased several other business opportunities at the time, some of which were successful and others not as much. The key takeaways during this exploratory growth phase included teaming up with the right people, and to be patient. Rome was not built in a day, so eventually, if you set your heart and mind on your goal you will achieve it.
As a next-generation CEO or team lead, what are the lessons that you wish to carry forward from your mentors?
Positive people always pick up positive things. Throughout my career, I have learnt a lot of good things, one of which is to surround myself with positive people. I have been incredibly fortunate to have a string of positive people guide me through my professional life as an employee, these are leaders who I naturally chose as my mentors, there was so much to learn from them.
Another thing I picked up from my mentors was that you are never going to achieve success easily. Things will almost never happen according to your plans when you are setting up a business, but you need to keep trying. I have always said that if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans. Coincidentally, it was also Steve Jobs who said that you need to connect the dots, of your failures and use the process of trial and error to court success. After all, everything happens for a reason. You only truly fail when you stop trying, so never give up on hope.
What are the challenges you perceive in your field of business and how are you planning to meet them?
Life will continue to throw challenges our way, it’s a lifelong thing. A lot of people, for instance talk about digital transformation in their respective spheres of business. For me and my team at Netix, however, it’s all about digital excellence and achieving it in everything we do. To maintain that qualitative arc, though means ensuring constant evolution. And to appreciate change in the initial days, for organisations and staff can be difficult. To overcome this difficulty, of getting our stakeholders to appreciate change and align with our vision is the challenge that we face at Netix regularly.
However, I am an eternal optimist and am sure that the change we desire will be welcomed by our value partners and clients and continued to be appreciated in the months and years to come.
State three things that you could offer to help incentivise your team in their quest for excellence.
My team is my biggest strength, and I consider my team members as family. Hence, to maintain that compassion and sense of empathy for each and every team member is something I constantly strive for.
The second is delegation of authority, to align my management and staff with my goals, so they are conscious of what it is that they are working towards. To impart a clear vision of the end goal to one’s staff is critical to the success of every firm. The third, and I feel extremely important facet is to incentivise teams. I try to work out an attractive corporate incentive package for my team members so there is a shared sense of ownership in the success of the organisation. Rewarding and recognising team members as they help companies achieve short and long-term goals contributes towards a healthy corporate ethic that eventually contributes towards the strength and stability of the firm.
In your view as a new-age CEO, how primed is the UAE as a hub for business and entrepreneurship?
The UAE is a great place for start-ups and a classic example where an entrepreneur can have all the facilities and opportunities to achieve success, not just at a regional level but global as well. I, for one started as an employee here in the UAE before getting into mission mode to start my own venture. This was initially a regional thing but I never stopped and kept pushing to move forward and court global success. So, I will be eternally thankful to the UAE and its Leadership for giving me the opportunity to reach these heights.
How do you see your organisation/business contributing towards the growth of the UAE under your leadership?
As I said before, my companies are essentially primed towards achieving digital excellence in all their spheres of activity. For instance, through our projects with regional real estate behemoth, Emaar, specifically Emaar Community Management, which includes their five master communities as well as the hundreds of properties that come under their purview, the SB Group is trying to bring in and use a series of technological innovations in the building management space that have not been seen not just in the UAE but the region as well. The same holds true for our other clients including premium developer, Damac, community developments such as Habtoor City and Le Mar, national telecom services provider Etisalat, retail giant, LuLu International, and several banking and financial institutions.
IoT is of equal importance to our growth story. In recent years, unbeknownst to many, IoT has gradually permeated business, industry, and households. As people sought greater connectivity, IoT devices were the go-to solutions. This structural trend found greater impetus following the Covid-19 outbreak as the need for smarter, healthier and safer spaces began to dawn on people.
Headquartered as Netix Global BV in Schiphol-Rijk (Netherlands), Netix is the leading solutions provider that specialises in the digital excellence of energy management and automation in homes, buildings, data centres, infrastructure development and various industries. Building on the strength of an open-framework-powered Niagara, and IoT technology driven approach, Netix is a premier provider of best-in-class building automation systems, solutions and services.
A Tridium Gold Partner, Netix’s comprehensive industry expertise ranges from design, engineering, integration, connectivity, testing, commissioning, and maintenance of smart building ecosystems, and their components. The company’s products and services include Netix Konnect- Intelligent Integrated Command Control Centre (iICCC); NETIX Uniview SUPRA, a feature-rich supervisory software suite built on the Niagara platform; Managed services offering predictive maintenance for both buildings and machinery, Smart Metering solutions and more.
What is the growth trajectory you have charted for your organisation over the next five years?
I am someone who has always aspired to enjoy a global outreach through my products and the services they provide. In the region, starting by launching offices here in Dubai in the UAE, we later expanded into Qatar and India before more recently exploring and setting up operations in Saudi Arabia. Outside of the region, the SB Group now enjoys a presence in the Netherlands, Italy, Croatia, Canada, Singapore and Australia. An office is soon coming up in the US as well. I am therefore very confident that within the next five years we will be able to achieve a global benchmark through our multiple ventures.