A serial entrepreneur, who is manner born

Whether it's dog sledding in the North Pole or walking through the Oman desert following an ancient trading route, life is one big adventure for serial entrepreneur Anna Heystek.
Anna Heystek, a South African serial entrepreneur, firmly believes in empowering staff and gives them the freedom to operate within their own areas of responsibility. Mona Al Marzooqi / The National
Anna Heystek, a South African serial entrepreneur, firmly believes in empowering staff and gives them the freedom to operate within their own areas of responsibility. Mona Al Marzooqi / The National

Anna Heystek, 48, is a South African serial entrepreneur. While co-founding her Abu Dhabi-based enterprises – GoBlue international business consulting and Inspire commercial brokers – she noticed a gap in the market for company set up assistance. Along with her business partner Alan O’Donnell and the local partner Saeed Ghanim, Ms Heystek formed BOTH in 2010, which provides company incorporation, compliance and PRO services, and outsourced back office operations.


I wake up and straightaway I have to move, whether it’s a 5 kilometre run, swim, cycle or some NIA moves. NIA is a form of martial art dance, and I’m an NIA Blue belt. I need to keep fit to train for the adventures I do with a close friend, who is a personal leadership specialist. I’ve dog sledded in the Arctic North pole, done an ultralight flight over the Annapurna mountains in Nepal and walked through the Oman desert following an ancient trading route.


I get back, have a juice (I’m a Jason Vale juice junkie), clear my inbox and go through priorities for the day. Being in my quiet space at home in Al Bandar, with no interruptions and overlooking the water to keep me calm, helps me to focus on my day. However, I know things will change when I get to the office.


I huddle through the day’s activities and priorities with my team. BOTH has 40 employees, 70 per cent of which are women. I firmly believe in empowering all my staff, giving them the freedom to operate within their own areas of responsibility and only to involve me or my partner when matters need to be escalated.


By this time I have already checked in with two key men – my husband, Andries, to see whether he is free for lunch and my business partner, Alan, for a working coffee to catch up. Alan and I are constantly looking at new business opportunities where we can alleviate hassles and address specific issues. I love to set up companies – I’m a big-picture person, so I see the end goal, and know what needs to be done. it so I can do something else.


I touch base with my other three businesses to provide executive input to particular business decisions, although I’m not operationally involved. Out of BOTH grew the company Escape Events because we started doing corporate events for clients who came to us and said, “we have to organise this chief executive dinner”, or “we have to do a yacht function for our clients”. We create our own client events because it’s fun and we love socialising.


I have lunch with Andries at Leopolds in Sky Towers on Reem Island near our offices. I like clean food, no processed stuff.


It’s time to review our CRM and other cloud-based systems and explore applications to streamline our operations in an integrated manner.


Our operations and clients services manager and I review new proposals and do last-minute amendments to our submissions, as we have a “within 24- hour” response time commitment to all our clients.


This is when we hold conference-call progress meetings with our international clients. We’ve just signed on a company attached to the new nuclear project ENEC, and a defence services company. We hand-held them through the whole compliance and regulatory process to set them up legally in Abu Dhabi, which takes about two months. The first month is usually to coach them and prepare their documentation. It’s easier now than it used to be, but there’s still red tape. Once a company is set up, we also usually start doing their banking, local book-keeping and accounts in collaboration with their parent company overseas, run their local expense reports, recruit and on-board their staff, and start doing their payroll. We also face a lot of barriers, but because we know how it works here we’re able to work through these situations.


I close shop and head home, where I have to come up with quick, creative ideas for dinner. Even though Andries usually gets home later than me, we always eat together, recap on the day, and plan our next adventure – perhaps Tango dancing, or skiing. I believe if you’re afraid of doing something, you should just do it anyway.


We go to sleep, but not before Andries has made me a nice cup of tea. One day, I’ll write a book – not necessarily about me, but I’ll weave my life story into it. I’m a born entrepreneur, even though I worked in the corporate world until seven years ago.


Follow The National’s Business section on Twitter

Published: December 27, 2014 04:00 AM


Editor's Picks
Sign up to:

* Please select one

Most Read