Father's Day
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With Father’s Day around the corner, the sons of the UAE’s top business leaders share insights on how their fathers maintain strong bonds despite demanding schedules. They reflect on the invaluable guidance received at every step of their journey, attributing their personal and professional success to their fathers’ support, wisdom and dedication.

"Manage people effectively to bring out the best in them.”

Adel Sajan, Group Managing Director, Danube Group, on his father Rizwan Sajan, Founder & Chairman, Danube Group

Image Credit: Supplied

The power of positivity

I deeply admire my father’s million-dollar smile and his positive attitude, regardless of the circumstances.

Whether facing the ups and downs of life or business, he always maintains his smile and tackles issues head-on instead of retreating. Additionally, his trust in people and his commitment to empowering them have been instrumental in scaling Danube to its current heights. These are the qualities I strive to emulate in my own leadership.

A unique father-son bond

While my father was building his empire from scratch, he wasn’t able to spend much time with the family. However, he always made sure to spend one-on-one time with me during his free moments, often taking me to Le Meridien for swimming. As I grew older and joined the office, I had more opportunities to spend time with him. Despite his busy schedule, he always made sure to be present for important events, and we maintained a strong connection.

From vision to action

My father taught me that there are no shortcuts to success; and to make things happen, you need to be on the ground and hands-on with every aspect of the business.

He also emphasised the importance of a sense of urgency – having ideas is common, but implementing them promptly is crucial. Ideas are a dime a dozen; what’s crucial is to implement these ideas fast.

Lastly, he taught me the significance of managing people effectively, ensuring you bring out the best in them.

Charting a unique path

My father has always stressed the importance of integrity, reminding me that it took 30 years to build a brand, but it can be lost in an instant. Working with integrity and being ethical is paramount, as your interpersonal relationships and credibility are what matter most. He also emphasised that change is the only constant; what got you here won’t take you there. Staying updated with market trends and customer needs is essential. Additionally, he advised that when starting a business, it’s crucial to do something different — following the herd may not lead to success. All our businesses are unique and distinct because of this.

"There are no shortcuts in life and nothing can substitute hard work."

Hrishikesh Datar, Director, Logistics, procurement and HR and Rohit Datar, Director Retail, on their father Dhananjay Datar, Chairman and MD, Al Adil Group

Al Adil
Rohit (left) and Hrishikesh with Dhananjay Datar Image Credit: Supplied

Quality above all

Hrishikesh Datar (HD): I deeply admire my father’s unwavering commitment to excellence and customer satisfaction. His relentless pursuit of quality in every aspect of our supermarkets has set a benchmark in the industry. He possesses an innate understanding of customer preferences and market trends, coupled with a passion for innovation. I strive to emulate his dedication, attention to detail, and entrepreneurial spirit in everything I do.

He has got an amazin quality of working hard and making it seem effortless, all wothout a single complaint or mention. He just keeps at it, providin for all without even expecting a thank you.

The heart of the business

Rohit Datar (RD): Balancing professional responsibilities with family time has always been a priority for my father. Despite the demands of managing a chain of supermarkets, he ensured that family remained at the forefront. He believed in the importance of quality time spent together, whether it was sharing meals or attending important family events. By instilling a culture of open communication and flexibility within our business, he successfully managed to integrate work and family life, setting a positive example for all of us.

He always went for quality over quantity. He knew he couldn’t spend much time with us as he used to work long hours but whenever he did get time he would make sure to make the most out of every minute.

Retail success secrets

RD: One of the most significant lessons I learned from my father is the importance of customer-centricity. He taught me that understanding and anticipating the needs of our customers is paramount to success in the retail industry. He always emphasised the value of building strong relationships with suppliers and employees based on trust and mutual respect. His focus on integrity, transparency, and continuous improvement has shaped my professional journey and our company’s culture.

Another key lesson I’ve learned from him is the importance of negotiation - he always secures exclusive deals from industry giants by using this technique,

In the business of trust

HD: The most valuable piece of advice my father has given me is to never compromise on quality and integrity. He often says, “In the business of food, trust is everything.” This advice has guided our decision-making processes and business practices, ensuring that we always deliver the highest quality products and services to our customers. He instilled in me the importance of maintaining our reputation as a trusted brand, even if it means making difficult choices. This invaluable lesson continues to inspire me in my role as a second-generation business leader in the Indian foodstuff retail industry. There are no shortcuts in life and nothing can substitute hard work.

"My father fosters strong relationships with clients.”

Arjun Dhanak, Director, Kanz Jewels, on his father Anil Dhanak, MD, Kanz Jewels

Image Credit: Supplied

Setting the standard

My father possesses an incredible attention to detail and a deep commitment to quality, which are essential traits in the jewellery business. His ability to maintain a high standard of craftsmanship while also fostering strong relationships with clients is something I deeply admire.

He’s also remarkably patient and persistent, never compromising on the integrity of his work. These qualities inspire me daily, and I strive to uphold these values in every aspect of our business.

Work-life harmony

My father has always been a master in balancing his professional and personal lives. Despite the demands of running a successful jewellery business, he made it a point to be present for family dinners and important events. He often integrated family into his work by involving us in the business from a young age, which not only taught us valuable lessons but also ensured we spent quality time together. His ability to switch gears and prioritise family moments without neglecting his professional duties is something I find truly remarkable.

The golden rule of success

One of the key lessons my father taught me is the importance of building and maintaining trust with our clients. In the jewellery business, trust is paramount, and he demonstrated this through his unwavering commitment to transparency and honesty. Another crucial lesson is the value of hard work and dedication. He showed me that success doesn’t come overnight but through consistent effort and resilience. These principles have shaped my professional journey, guiding me to uphold the family legacy with integrity and diligence.

Customer-first approach

The most valuable piece of advice my father has given me is to always put the customer first. He often says, “A satisfied customer is the best business strategy of all.” This advice has been a cornerstone of our business philosophy. He taught me that understanding and anticipating our customers’ needs and exceeding their expectations not only builds loyalty but also drives sustainable success. This customer-centric approach has been instrumental in guiding our business practices and ensuring we deliver exceptional value and service.

"Success should never come at the cost of our principles.”

Azhar Sajan, Founder & Director, Casa Milano, and Sahil Sajan, Director, Milano, on their father Anis Sajan, Vice Chairman, Danube Group

Azhar (left) and Sahil with Anis Sajan Image Credit: Supplied

Leading by Example

Sahil Sajan (SS): One of the qualities I admire most about my father is his ability to connect with people from all walks of life. His love for social interactions make him approachable and relatable.

This ability to build strong relationships has been a key factor in the success of our business, and I strive to cultivate the same level of warmth and engagement in my professional interactions.

Balancing act

Azhar Sajan (AS): My father has always been a family man at heart. Despite his demanding role as the Vice Chairman of Danube Group, he made it a point to prioritise family time. He would often involve us in his interests, like watching cricket matches together or sharing his love for Bollywood movies, which allowed us to bond while also unwinding from work pressures. This balance was crucial in keeping our family close-knit.

Values in action

SS: My father instilled in us the value of hard work and integrity. He always emphasised that success should never come at the cost of our principles. This lesson has been a cornerstone in my professional journey, guiding me to make decisions that are not only beneficial for the business but also ethically sound and respectful of our values.

More than the bottom line

AS: One of the most valuable pieces of advice my father, Anis, has given me is to always stay grounded and maintain integrity in all our business dealings.

He emphasised that success is not just measured by financial gains but by the relationships we build and the positive impact we create in our community. This philosophy has been a guiding principle for me as I navigate the complexities of the business world.

"The bond with customers often transcends transactions.”

Chirag Vora, Managing Director, on his father Ramesh Vora, Chairman, Bafleh Jewellers

Image Credit: Supplied

Business wisdom on integrity and quality

My father’s integrity and unwavering commitment to quality are the qualities I admire the most. In the jewellery business, trust is everything, and my father built his reputation by ensuring every piece he crafted met the highest standards. I strive to emulate his dedication to excellence and his genuine care for his customers, always going the extra mile to ensure they are not just satisfied but delighted. His patience and attention to detail in every aspect of the business have set a benchmark for me to follow.

Creating meaningful moments

My father had an incredible ability to balance his professional and personal life. Despite the demands of running a successful jewellery business, he always made time for family dinners and weekend outings. He believed that family is the cornerstone of one’s life and that success at work means little if it comes at the expense of family time. His method was simple but effective: he prioritised quality time over quantity. Even during busy periods, he ensured that when he was with us, he was fully present, making those moments meaningful and memorable.

The power of relationships

One of the most significant lessons I learned from my father is the importance of building relationships based on trust and respect. In the jewellery business, the bond with customers often transcends transactions; it becomes a relationship built on years of trust. He taught me that maintaining honesty and transparency in all dealings is crucial for long-term success. Another key lesson was his approach to challenges. He always saw obstacles as opportunities for growth and innovation, a perspective that has been invaluable in navigating the complexities of our business.

Crafting with passion

The most valuable piece of advice my father gave me was to always put passion into my work. He said, “If you love what you do, it will never feel like work, and success will follow naturally.” By fostering a genuine passion for jewellery design and customer satisfaction, I’ve been able to carry forward his legacy while also bringing my own innovations to the business. His wisdom reminds me daily that the heart of our business is not just in the products we sell but in the passion and dedication we pour into creating them.