Reema believes, '' it's not just about money but creating better communities.'' Image Credit: Supplied picture

I was born and raised in Abu Dhabi. It was enriching to grow up in such a multicultural environment. My parents, who have been in the UAE for more than 35 years, taught my siblings and me to live in harmony with people from different cultural backgrounds. They helped me to blossom into an independent person.

I attended Al Khubeirat School and International School of Choueifat in Abu Dhabi and studied Business Administration at Boston University, making me the first member of my family to study abroad.

Living in Boston had a great impact on me. During my first winter there it was snowing and the cold was so intense I ended up with frostbite in my feet. Not used to such extreme weather, I wanted to return immediately. But gradually, and with a little help from friends, I got used to the place and Boston became my home away from home.

I returned to Abu Dhabi in 2001 and joined my father, BR Shetty, in his business. I had to reposition myself from being his child to becoming his employee, which was a challenging experience. When I first joined the company, New Medical Centre (NMC), it was as an operator and receptionist. Three weeks into the job, I gave my dad a report in which I stated that he had too many people in his company.

Soon after he read the report, he fired me. I was taken aback, to say the least. I spent the following days avoiding him at home. Then, one day, he explained to me why I had been wrong. He said he was not just interested in making money but also in creating better communities. Human relationships, he emphasised, are of great importance. It is a lesson business schools don't teach you, he said. So I joined his company again and worked my way up the ladder and became a director.

My father created his business entirely from scratch. During the early days, our living room was his office. My mother was the first doctor at NMC when he opened his clinic in Abu Dhabi in 1976. She is currently the medical director with over a couple of hundred doctors working under the umbrella of NMC.

Eating healthily is vital. I wanted to start a healthy fast-food outlet in the UAE. My high school friend, Alia Al Mazrouei, our common friend Mohammad Bitar, and I would always talk about doing something different. Being from Lebanon, Mohammad was keen on starting something to promote Middle Eastern and Lebanese delicacies. After much brainstorming, we decided to open an outlet (in 2007) serving Middle Eastern fare and called it Just Falafel.

I am a member of the International Advisory Committee for Boston University, Global Health Primary Care Initiative (GHPCI). The GHPCI promotes multi-disciplinary research, education, outreach and policy studies across and beyond the Boston University community. I am also on the Board of Overseers of Boston University. We meet twice a year to give recommendations to the Board of Trustees and the University on the strategy and quality of academic programmes. I am passionate about education and feel honoured to be part of the board.

Quick questions

Tell us about your family.

I got married to Mohammad Bitar in 2010. I am learning to be a wife. I was so busy being a professional that I hardly entered the kitchen. At 30, I am learning the names of many ingredients and trying to cook.

What qualities do you value the most?

Compassion, honesty, open and frank communication, as well as the importance of culture, family and relationships.

What do you enjoy doing?

Yoga has benefited me tremendously. It's helped me discover my potential and is something I truly enjoy.