Adel Sajan is the director of Danube Group, a regional business conglomerate. Mr Sajan, from India, was born and brought up in the UK and is closely involved in the group’s operations of the retail division. The 26-year-old is the only son of Rizwan Sajan, the billionaire founder and chairman of Danube Group.
How do you spend your weekend?
Weekends are as important as weekdays, and de-stressing is right at the top on my priority list. Most of the time is spent with family and friends at home, shisha cafes or at parties. All in all, I enjoy my weekends to the core and like to take things as easy as possible.
How did you become a director?
I started quite young. I remember right from the age of 13 my dad would put me into various tasks and departments at Danube during my summer breaks. My first assignment was working in the warehouse with the blue-collar workers and from there on I worked in almost every department until I turned 19. That was the time I was given a real responsibility – starting the chandelier division in the Danube Buildmart, which had just begun operations. By the time I graduated, I had good knowledge and experience in marketing, logistics, buying and all things retail. Our retail division was kicking off and that’s when I moved into the position of a director.
What is your go-to gadget?
My iPhone without a doubt. My work, my social life, emails, travel, meetings – I am dependent on my iPhone for everything. I just can’t function without it.
What was the lowest point of your career?
Let me put it this way: yes, when I started as the director at Danube Group, things weren’t smooth in the beginning – I was still getting the hang of handling so many things at the same time. The company structure had to be revamped and back then expectations were quite different. It took a few months, however soon we were on our way to an exciting journey as a team and as a division.
What advice would you offer others starting out in your business?
Over the past four to five years, one thing I have learnt is that retail is all about detail. When starting out in retail business, you need to go deep into things, micromanage everything and not just depend on people as things need to be on track the way you had planned. The second most important ingredient is a sense of urgency. If you have something on your plate for tomorrow then follow up and make sure that it’s done today. My advice for everyone starting out in the retail industry is to pay attention to every detail and have a sense of urgency.
What is your most indulgent habit?
Travel and food. These habits (especially travel) have served me and my business well as I like to work closely with my team, so whenever there is a need I go and visit our stores/ warehouses/facilities across the Middle East and never break into a sweat.
What do you have in your office?
I have an iMac, a projector screen – two things which help me carry on with my work, discussions and debates related to marketing, buying, zoning etc. I also have a fish tank, which helps me de-stress as it creates a feeling of serenity.
What can’t you live without?
Food, literally and otherwise. I am a foodie and whenever I travel, I make sure that I enjoy different cuisines from various countries. I love Thai cuisine.
How do you achieve a work-life balance?
A work-life balance is the single most important aspect one should take care of, to lead a happy life. Work hard and play harder is my mantra to maintain that balance. Last year I had 25 business trips over 174 days, and again if I didn’t have a strong social life then it would have been difficult to stay motivated and focused. I always make sure that once or twice a year I travel with my friends for eight to 10 days, de-stressing and attending parties, concerts and sports events around the world. When I am in Dubai, I make most of the weekends to maintain that balance.
If you could swap jobs with anyone, who would it be and why?
I would not swap jobs with anyone; I am extremely satisfied and happy.