Dubai: He was 23 years old when he came to Dubai in 1991. His salary at the time was Dh2,000 a month.
K.S. Parag, now 52, runs his own company, First Video Communications (FVC) which enjoys an annual turnover of over Dh200 million. The company provides software solutions including security, networking, communications, enterprise threat management and cloud computing solutions; provides information technology consulting and computer technology training services. Parag is heading the business and at the helm of running his operations.
From earning a salary of Dh2,000 a month, and living in a tiny one-bedroom apartment in Sharjah, to now residing in a plush 10,000 square feet villa in Emirates Hills, Parag is a success story in his own right.
His rise to success, however, wasn't a cakewalk.
Parag who originally hails from the city of Hyderabad in the state of Andhra Pradesh, India, came to work in Dubai in the year 1991 as a 23 year-old and a fresh graduate from college. Parag was keen to start working in Dubai as he thought it was a stepping stone to the United States. That's where he wanted to do his Master’s degree in business administration.
Parag had graduated in electronics and communication engineering from the Manipal Institute Technology (MIT) - the same college current Microsoft CEO Satya Narayana Nadella graduated from.
Equipped with a college degree, Parag found himself a job with a salary of Dh2,000 a month. But why Dubai?
“The reason why I picked Dubai as a destination for my first job was because my father was working in the Gulf for a long time. He was working as a Major in the Ministry of Defense of Oman for 24 years. When I graduated, he suggested I look for a job in Dubai as the city was booming. The UAE had massive potential for growth and opportunities. The job scene had opened up and so I applied for a job here," he recalled.
Parag, as many UAE residents still do, lived in Sharjah and worked in Dubai at the time. It was a struggle, Parag said. This phase went on for a year and a half.
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Then he switched jobs. For the next eight years Parag worked in different jobs across Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah.
Hired for a job, only to be fired
Parag said, “Around the year 1999, an emerging company hired me for a senior position and for a salary of Dh10,000. The company went through some re-structuring in three months’ time and I was fired from the job. I was shocked and disheartened.”
He continued, “I asked why this had happened to me. After all I worked hard, [I was] very professional. I delivered more than what was asked for from my job. So why was I fired?"
With a wife and a daughter to look after, Parag's luck was thrown for a toss. He had some savings – just enough to last him another month in the UAE.
So his wife – Sangita – suggested the family move to Sharjah where rents were cheaper. “This way we could save some money on rents and extend our stay in the country. And so we rented a one-bedroom apartment in Sharjah,” Parag said.
Turning point of his life
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This was also the time he took a major step in his life, and started out on his own. A decision not easy for a professional in the service sector to take, especially considering no one in his family had treaded the path of becoming an entrepreneur.
Parag recalled, “I told my wife I had enough serving others and that I wanted to start out on my own. There was too much insecurity working for others. I wanted to be independent and successful, be in my element all the time. I [was] told [that I] used to deliver much more than what the expectation of my employer was. All of a sudden I ended up jobless. I did not want this anymore."
Today - a different story altogether
They struggled the first year. Parag said, “We were boot-strapped. And trying to make the best of all the resources in hand.”
But he stuck on to his decision to start his own company.
“I borrowed money from my father, my brother and set up a small office. We were three people in the company – myself, my wife and another staff member. The only person taking a salary was the staff member. For years my wife and I did not take a salary. We put it back in the business and made it grow. It was a struggle to say the least what with a little child in the house," he added.
Within 18 months of starting the business, Parag said, things were still bleak. Parag said, "In 2002, I wanted to shut shop. There was no business coming in, no capital flowing in. It was hand to mouth living and I wanted to return home. My parents, my younger brother and of course my wife as my biggest support. They asked me to hang in there."
In a stroke of luck, things changed. He said, "And bang like a miracle I got an order from a well-established company in Abu Dhabi. The company gave me a big order and this was a turning point in my life."
The company and who K.S. Parag is today
From that to now, he is the managing director at FVC Inc. As the founding member of the company, Parag has over 27 years of experience in the communications and IT industry.
Through decades of work, Parag has been instrumental in transforming the region’s communications landscape through ADNOC’s adoption of the very first video conferencing solution in the Middle East way back in 1992. He said, “I was instrumental in bringing the first video-conferencing to some large companies in the UAE.”
FVC was set up by Parag to be a focused value-added distributor involved in introducing leading-edge technology solutions in the Middle East and North Africa.
Stick to your goals and keep chasing your dreams
Parag, as advice to new entrepreneurs, said, “Patience is key if you want to be a successful entrepreneur. Nothing comes fast and easy. Dare to dream and chase your goals.”
“Hard work is key as well. When I started my company, I did not take any weekend. Any day off for five years. I was working 18 hours a day and did not even take a salary for the first year. Budgeting is essentially, going with the flow of the economy, sensing the needs of the client and finally delivering quality product and service gets you where you need to be,” he added.