Reform Social & Grill: ‘Our business is a lifestyle’

Naim Maadad, the chief executive of Gates Hospitality, says it is hard to shut the door on his day job because he operates in a 24/7 industry.

Naim Maadad, the chief executive of Gates Hospitality, advises budding entrepreneurs to know their product. Pawan Singh / The National
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Naim Maadad is the chief executive of Gates Hospitality, which owns Reform Social & Grill in The Lakes, Dubai. The Australian, 46, who has lived in the UAE since 1991, launched his hospitality business three years ago.

What are your favourite things to do on the weekend?

Because I am in the hospitality industry, I like to do very little on the weekend and be away from noise. I like to put my feet up, get a good book and listen to good music. In the hospitality business, we are constantly with people; we are constantly delivering a service. Whenever I get an opportunity, I’ll just put my feet up and relax. Recently, I’ve been reading a lot of biographies. The most recent and intriguing is about Mohamed Al Fayed. It’s a big, fat book that I couldn’t put down. It’s very interesting.

What do you consider to be your favourite hobby?

I am a car man. I adore anything to do with vehicles. My other hobby has to do with the study of agriculture. I love understanding grape juice as much as possible.

What can’t you live without?

My family; they are an integral part of my life. I have two little girls who are eight and ten. This has changed my life for the better.

What do you consider the secret to your success?

There are several. Again, I would start with my family. I am also grateful for the investment that was put into me, whether it was educational or the support that made me what I am today. More importantly, I am extremely determined. It’s one of my strength and my weakness. I am constantly looking for the next step up, whatever it may be. It’s always realistic and every little chapter that I have put in my book, I have reached it. Sometimes you can move too quickly. I look for the next-best thing while also trying to accomplish what I am doing today. The other danger is that some of the people around you are threatened by it, because they know you will get there. You become a threat to many people.

What advice would you offer other budding entrepreneurs?

Whatever business one decides to pursue, you need to know your product. You need to be able to challenge anybody in your business – whether it is colleagues, employees, employers or competitors. You need to be able to support any argument that is brought to the table. You also need to make sure that the strategy that you have isn’t for one day. In any business, once you enter, you are in it for the long run. It’s not your job, it’s your life. If you treat work in this fashion, as a career, you can’t go wrong.

How do you achieve a work-life balance?

It’s hard in our business to close the door, because the business is generated most of the time at night or by emails. Our business is unlike banks, where you open at 9 and close at 5, and everything waits for you for the next day. We don’t really shut doors because we are always open. It’s ongoing. While everyone is having fun, our people are working. You have to be motivational and help people. Our business is a lifestyle.

How do you relax after the working day?

Through reflection. Basically, when I finish the day, I reflect on what has been achieved and make sure that the future is always on track. Also, celebrating successes; you should keep reminding yourself of your little wins, because they are inspirational. They help me recharge my batteries.

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

Having my own company for the past three years makes going back to work for another organisation impossible. Actually, I would say near impossible, because nothing is impossible. If I wasn’t in hospitality, I would be running a fashion line because there are many similarities between what we do and fashion. When we open a new restaurant or resort, the design element goes into it.

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