Off hours: Al Sahara Insurance VP tries to works smarter, not harder

Jose Thomas, an associate vice president at Al Sahara Insurance Brokers, updates his iPhone diary daily to keep track of the events in both his personal and professional life.
Jose Thomas, of Sahara Insurance Brokers, makes it a point to listen regularly to his wife’s opinions. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
Jose Thomas, of Sahara Insurance Brokers, makes it a point to listen regularly to his wife’s opinions. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

Jose Thomas is associate vice president with Al Sahara Insurance Brokers, an insurance and investment brokerage, leading the sales team. Mr Thomas, a certified international financial planner from the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment in the United Kingdom, moved to the UAE in 2007. Originally from India, he lives in Al Nadha, Sharjah, with his wife and their three-year-old daughter.

How do you spend your weekend?

I go out for dinner with my family and for a movie afterwards (mostly Indian films). I take my daughter to play in the park or to the mall near my residence. Sports and fitness are also very important to me; working out and playing cricket really helps me to relax and refresh my body and mind. I also spend time reading. It used to be finance-related articles and books to enhance my industry knowledge but then I turned to self-help books. I am currently reading How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie.

How did you become an ­associate vice president?

I consider myself lucky to have met the right people at the right time and they were kind enough to guide me in ­developing my career in the industry. At the same time, my passion and determination led me to this position. If you want to achieve something, you have to put in 100 per cent.

What is your go-to gadget?

My iPhone and its diary. I used to have a BlackBerry and initially it was very difficult to change to an iPhone when my wife bought it for me in 2013 but now it really helps me in my professional and personal life. I habitually write in my diary before I finish the day. I analyse and write about things that went right or wrong during the day. I write it on my iPhone and it is shared with my calendar – it helps me when I need to find out what happened on a particular day.

What was the lowest point of your career?

The pressure that came with the global recession of 2008 left me in a challenging position in terms of new business. It was difficult to explain and make prospects understand about the fluctuations in the market, the importance of long-term investments and the benefits of buying at lower rate. Only a few people made the choice to invest when others preferred to play safe by keeping money in the bank.

What advice would you give to others starting out in your business?

There are four very important lessons: One, it’s not about hard work, it’s all about smart work. Two, find at least an hour in a day to read books and ­articles related to your job. Three, find a role model and follow them. And four, ups and downs are common in the financial industry – be persistent and never give up.

What is your most indulgent habit?

I spend a lot of time on my ­laptop and watching TV – after work of course. It’s a habit for me to sit in front of the TV from 9pm until around 11.30pm. It gives me lot of information as I mostly watch news channels but I think it’s the most indulgent habit of mine.

What do you have on your desk at work?

The book I am reading, my weekly schedule and my laptop

What car do you drive?

A Honda accord 3.5 v6, which I bought in 2014.

What can’t you live without?

I can live without TV and my laptop, but I also can’t live without my daughter, wife and parents.

How do you achieve a work-life balance?

I made it a point to regularly listen to my wife’s opinions, and even objections, with my work. This made me more aware of the issues I needed to deal with and improve on. I also made sure my family understood my obligations and responsibilities at work. It is impossible to balance everything perfectly in our life; sometimes we have to prioritise. For instance, when my daughter is sick, I need to skip one or two meetings; or when there is an important meeting to attend, I might need to miss a dinner with my family at home and stay at work.

If you could swap jobs with anyone, who would it be and why?

At school, I wanted to become a cricket player, as it was all about cricket for me in those days. I would still like to be a cricket player, even at the age of 34.

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Published: September 27, 2016 04:00 AM


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