Money & Me: 'Hunger' for success drives young manager

Six years ago, he was an unemployed youth with a CV consisting of his photo and home address. Now, Robin Titus is the youngest general manager in the region.

Robin Titus, the general manager of Naseba, at his office in Knowledge Village in Dubai. Pawan Singh / The National
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Robin Titus is the general manager of naseba, a business networking company with offices in six countries. At 25, Mr Titus, who is originally from India, recently became the youngest general manager in the region. His focus is on organising summits, meetings and workshops with governments and corporations in the Middle East and Africa to help facilitate business and investment.

How did you first start with naseba?

a When I joined the company, I wasn't doing anything. I was 19 years old and unemployed. I didn't even have a CV. It was just one page with my photo on it and my home address. I had no experience. I applied and I told them I wanted an opportunity. I will do whatever it takes and work hard. I will make it happen.

How were you able to rise up the ranks so quickly?

I was moulded into a racehorse. I had the right leadership in place to mentor me and provide the kind of leadership and growth to get into a hot spot. I looked at it like a game. Every day I came in motivated and positive. I made my job fun. A deal today and not tomorrow - that was my motto. I never thought about yesterday. I just wanted to be the best at what I did.

What advice would you give people entering the workforce?

Whatever opportunity you have, seize it. The more you seize, the more it multiplies. It doesn't matter if you start as an intern. Seize it and climb your way up.

Can age be a hindrance?

It's just a number. That's the way you have to look at it. The chairman saw the hunger in my eye when he recruited me. I got the right support and training, which took me all over the world. I have been to more than 23 destinations with the company. The biggest hindrance is yourself. At this company, we empower youth. If you look at our sales floor, in terms of age, most people are between 19 and 27.

How does the company make money?

We make our events happen through research. Then, our sales team focuses on sponsors. When organising an aviation show, for example, we get manufacturers such as Airbus or Bombardier to sponsor the event, and the company makes commissions from those deals.

How has your business been affected by the financial crisis?

We shut our offices down in London, Prague and a few other locations. We have focused on the emerging market and made Dubai the flagship office. We want to emphasise the markets that others are more wary to get into. That's one of our corporate values. We're aggressive and we don't wait for things to fall on our laps. Our business also includes Libya and Saudi Arabia. We realised the West was looking to the East for investment opportunities and that's what we focus on.

What was money like growing up?

My parents were not well off in Dubai. When they reached 60, they had to leave the country because they could no longer work in the UAE. They could not afford to finish off my education. They told me to find a job. My other siblings were sent abroad for education and they took on debt to pay for this. I joined naseba in 2004 and in 2006, I made a goal to myself. With my parents retired, I needed a house for them in India. In 2008, I built them a mansion in Kerala.

What is your approach towards money?

If anyone says money isn't important, they would be lying. It's a way to get what you want. You have a dream and a goal and money helps you facilitate this. It allows you to choose what you want to do.

Are you a saver or a spender?

I'm both. I'm definitely a spender. I'm still young and I love the luxuries that the world can offer. I'm wearing a Rolex, Armani suit and Gucci shoes. But at the same time, I have an ultimate goal and that's what I'll be savings towards. I'm not the kind of person that spends without having money. I don't get into debt.

What has been your most important financial lesson?

Don't spend what you don't have. I tell the sales guys at the company not to spend their commission before the payments come in. You should never spend without having it in hand. Don't think it'll come tomorrow. I learnt that from my parents. I don't have any credit cards. I don't take loans. I make the money and I make my life happen. I spend what I have.

As told to Jeffrey Todd