Off hours: Acting Dubai Gold and Commodities Exchange chief

Gaurang Desai, acting chief executive of Dubai Gold and Commodities Exchange, follows a strict rule of keeping his work and family life apart to the point of not discussing his job when he is at home.
Gaurang Desai, acting chief executive of Dubai Gold and Commodities Exchange (DGCX) at his office in Dubai. Ravindranath K / The National
Gaurang Desai, acting chief executive of Dubai Gold and Commodities Exchange (DGCX) at his office in Dubai. Ravindranath K / The National

Gaurang Desai is the acting chief executive of Dubai Gold and Commodities Exchange (DGCX). A market structure specialist with more than 19 years’ experience, the 42-year-old, from India has also served as the chief operating officer of DGCX since its inception in November 2005.

What are your favourite things to do on the weekend?

Due to the international nature of my business and work commitments, I get very limited time to spend with my wife and 10-year-old son. When I have some time with them, we love to visit a group of family friends together, or sit down to catch up on world cinema with some homemade food. I am also an avid fan of live performance arts such as theatre, music concerts and dance recitals. I find it incredibly stimulating to see a live demonstration of an artiste or craft.

What do you consider to be your favourite hobby?

I am very passionate about reading: I make it a point to read at least a chapter from a book every night (no kindle). On weekends and holidays, I look forward to winding down with a good book in my hands. Although I enjoy reading up on almost all topics, I love reading history. Reading can help you grow as an individual and expand your knowledge without you even having to leave your seat. I also love travelling to new countries and cities, and exploring new places. It is much more exciting and fulfilling to discover a new place by walking around: I believe it offers great insight into the local culture, its people and their traditions.

What can’t you live without?

My smartphone and wallet. My work requires me to be connected 24/7: even when Dubai sleeps, other developments affect international markets and exchanges. My smartphone helps me stay up to date with global news on a regular basis, as is required of all professionals in this day and time.

What do you consider the secret to your success?

Without a doubt, it would be the unflinching support of my family and friends. My wife, Nipa has been an incredible pillar of strength and has put up with my gruelling work and travel schedule. I definitely have her to thank for holding our family together in a way that I would never be able to. To quote a cliché – they do say behind every successful man is a woman and it’s true. My wife and son are a constant motivation for me to push for progress, both on professional and personal aspects. I also believe that the only way to be successful is through persistently working hard. One has to learn about all aspects of the business, and go through both the good and the bad experiences to understand the nuances of making decisions on time, every time.

What advice would you offer others starting out in your business?

It is essential to be aware of your environment and of any opportunities that might come your way. Be open and welcome new ideas, even if they seem risky or unconventional at once. Also, take decisions swiftly and don’t agonise if you’ve made the “right” decision or not. When managing a complex business, there are times where decisions are not optimal, but if we are agile and well prepared to deal with the outcome, we can handle any shortcomings and rectify them immediately.

How do you achieve a work-life balance?

I have conscientiously kept my work and family life apart: at home, it is a rule for us to not talk about work when we are spending time together. Of course, with smartphones and digitalisation, it can get impossible. However, we do go the extra mile as a family to not let work pressures affect our family environment.

How do you relax after the working day?

As a family, we make sure to have at least one meal a day together. It is very soothing for me to spend some time with my son and chat with him about what he has learnt at school. The innocence and energy of a young child is infectious and lends a totally different perspective to everything. I also enjoy listening to light music while I settle down for my daily bedtime reading. The combination of reading and light music is pure bliss.

If you weren’t running your business what else would you be doing?

I would probably be a musician. I find the process of creating music quite challenging, but it is an immensely enriching and intimate experience. Though I am a musical novice, I am thrilled about the magic a single musical instrument creates in the hands of a maestro. Music truly has no boundaries and is a uniting force that everyone can universally enjoy.

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Published: July 23, 2015 04:00 AM


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