Today, I have the wonderful pleasure to introduce to you one of my colleagues in the postgraduate diploma program. He has only recently entered the hospitality world, and already he is developing a strong passion for it. Beyond his service flair and eagerness to learn, he also has a secret identity that distinguishes him from the rest: he is entrepreneurial-minded, and he is ready to show the hospitality world what he’s got!
Q: Tell us about your background.
A: I’m from Dubai, born and brought up there. I attended the University of Toronto for my bachelor’s in 2004 and went back to Dubai in 2008.
Q: How did you get started in your business?
A: When I returned, Dubai was booming and construction was at its peak, and so was the demand for related industries. My co-founder was a family friend who had worked for a heavy vehicle transport company at the time. We decided to take advantage of the expansion in construction and launched a small transport company.
Q: What was a typical day like in your work?
A: It was a small business, but in the beginning, it was literally just the two of us, so the days were long. Mostly, the days were unplanned, and we were running around to get teething problems out of the way. Work hours varied, but on average, around 10-12 hours a day.
Q: What was your proudest accomplishment?
A: Probably when we successfully signed our first contract with the second largest infrastructure developer in Dubai. It was good money for us at the time.
Q: And what was your most difficult moment?
A: When the recession hit, Dubai was affected a lot more than other places, simply because the initial boom was so big. As they say, the higher the rise, the harder the fall. At that point, our debtors stopped paying us literally overnight, and liquidity went nonexistent. Cash flow became a major problem.
Q: What advice would you give to the aspiring entrepreneurs out there?
A: Don’t jump into something before doing a complete feasibility study and market analysis, which I did not. Try to get some experience in your relevant industry before starting something on your own. No matter which top school you went do, and how well you did there, nothing can prepare you for the real world, especially when it’s your own money on the line. Most importantly, you should have a passion for what you do, and be willing to work 16-hour days without complaining.
Q: Why did you decide to leave your business to pursue hospitality?
A: My decision to leave the business was mainly due to the fact that I was not getting the return on investment that I had expected when I launched it. There was a bit of a gap between the exit from my last business and my decision to pursue hospitality. During this time, I worked in property management and pursued an MBA, which allowed me to learn about the upcoming industries in my region, hospitality being one of them. As a result, using my newly acquired experience in property and real estate, I decided to further that knowledge and jump into hospitality.
Q: How did you choose Les Roches?
A: Les Roches was the name that came up at every point during my research on hospitality schools. It was mentioned as rank 1 or 2 everywhere, and thus I decided to apply here.
Q: What are you looking to get out of your hospitality education?
A: I am looking to learn more about managing and operating a successful hospitality business. From an operations perspective, I would like to learn the day-to-day workings of a hotel or a restaurant business, as well as how they both differ from other services and product-oriented businesses.
Q: How do you see yourself combining your passions in entrepreneurship and hospitality?
A: Ideally, I would like to start my own business after having worked for a year or so. I am looking at either starting a small boutique hotel or a restaurant in a couple of years.
My business in a nutshell: a small transport company, consisting of 20 trucks. We specialized in transportation of heavy materials used in construction and worked with construction firms on a fixed or variable basis, as per their needs.
I hope you have enjoyed the interview and learned a few things about entrepreneurship and Les Roches.
Stay tune for my next blog post! Ciao!