An exclusive Corporate Happiness Masterclass by the Happiness Hub; Fiona Barron and Saleem Ali, held at the media one hotel in Dubai. Anna Nielsen for The National
An exclusive Corporate Happiness Masterclass by the Happiness Hub; Fiona Barron and Saleem Ali, held at the media one hotel in Dubai. Anna Nielsen for The National

Well being: Win the workplace to win the market

Doug Conant, the chief executive of Campbell’s Soup, once said that to win the marketplace you must first win the workplace.

The people at The Happiness Hub, a consultancy specialising in corporate happiness, would probably agree. It is their mission to help companies make, and keep, their employees happy. If you do that, they will be more productive, they say.

“Having a positive and optimistic mindset has a wealth of benefits,” says Fiona Barron, cofounder and chief executive of The Happiness Hub, which held a corporate happiness masterclass last week to share some of its insights.

From a personal perspective, positivity can make you more resilient and better able to cope with adversity. And it has a host of benefits in the workplace.

“It makes us more innovative and creative, better at problem solving and identifying creative solutions. You are more cooperative and better at building relationships. And there is lower absenteeism and more loyalty to the businesses and companies,” says Ms Barron.

But what if you are not a naturally positive person? Optimism, happiness and positivity can all be learnt, says Ms Barron, who has a master’s degree in clinical psychology. The more we focus on them, the more we shift our mindset to identify opportunities to see the solution, she says.

Ms Barron and her cofounder, Saleem Ali, suggest adopting habits at work that are proven to make people happier and more productive. They include writing down three things you are grateful for each day and looking for strengths in others.

“We spend a significant amount of time thinking about what people have failed to do, what they have done wrong and what they could do better, colleagues, family,” said Mr Ali. “Instead, look for the things they are successful in.”

Kiran Sajwani, attended the masterclass to see what she could learn. As an independent innovation strategy consultant, part of her job is helping companies keep their employees happy.

“People spend eight, nine, 10, 12 hours at work,” she says. “So you might as well enjoy it.”

q&a happy firms perform well

Fiona Barron tells Gillian Duncan more about the company, which launched in October and held the Happiness Festival, a free community event that attracted 1,000 attendees, in March:

What has your focus been in recent months?

Since January we have been focused more specifically on corporates, so we developed our corporate portfolio, which focuses on business outcomes and how we can combine positive psychology to lift the overall performance of companies – whatever the companies want, but everything is tied to business objectives. So if a company comes and says we want to lift motivation, productivity and creativity then we will recommend the best methods to do this.

What is your background?

There are two founders. My background is psychology. I have a master’s in clinical psychology but have been focused for the past couple of years on positive psychology, so the science of happiness. Before that my background was events and training, so the two worlds merged for me and that is when I had the idea to create The Happiness Hub. Saleem Ali, who is my business partner and cofounder, his background is more on business performance and analytics, how to get the best out of it.

How many companies have you worked with since you started?

We have done a lot of work with six clients. The main industries we are seeing interested in this is hospitality, finance and education. But our biggest client is in construction.

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Company profile

Company name: Suraasa

Started: 2018

Founders: Rishabh Khanna, Ankit Khanna and Sahil Makker

Based: India, UAE and the UK

Industry: EdTech

Initial investment: More than $200,000 in seed funding

The specs: 2018 Alfa Romeo Stelvio

Price, base: Dh198,300
Engine: 2.0L in-line four-cylinder
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
Power: 280hp @ 5,250rpm
Torque: 400Nm @ 2,250rpm
Fuel economy, combined: 7L / 100km

The specs

Engine: 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8
Power: 680hp at 6,000rpm
Torque: 800Nm at 2,750-6,000rpm
Transmission: Rear-mounted eight-speed auto
Fuel consumption: 13.6L/100km
On sale: Orderbook open; deliveries start end of year
Price: From Dh970,000

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Display: 12.9-inch Liquid Retina XDR, 2,732 x 2,048, 264ppi, wide colour, True Tone, ProMotion, 1,600 nits max, Apple Pencil hover

Chip: Apple M2, 8-core CPU, 10-core GPU, 16-core Neural Engine

Memory: Storage – 128GB/256GB/512GB / 1TB/2TB; RAM – 8GB/16GB

Platform: iPadOS 16

Main camera: Dual 12MP wide (f/1.8) + 10MP ultra-wide (f/2.4), 2x optical/5x digital, Smart HDR 4

Video: ProRes 4K @ 30fps, 4K @ 24/25/30/60fps, full HD @ 25/30/60fps, slo-mo @ 120/240fps

Front camera: TrueDepth 12MP ultra-wide (f/2.4), 2x, Smart HDR 4, Centre Stage, Portrait, Animoji, Memoji; full HD @ 25/30/60fps

Audio: Four-speaker stereo

Biometrics: Face ID, Touch ID

I/O: USB-C, smart connector (for folio/keyboard)

Battery: Up to 10 hours on Wi-Fi; up to nine hours on cellular

Finish: Silver, space grey

In the box: iPad, USB-C-to-USB-C cable, 20-watt power adapter

Price: WiFi – Dh4,599 (128GB) / Dh4,999 (256GB) / Dh5,799 (512GB) / Dh7,399 (1TB) / Dh8,999 (2TB); cellular – Dh5,199 / Dh5,599 / Dh6,399 / Dh7,999 / Dh9,599


1. Bhiwadi, India
2. Ghaziabad, India
3. Hotan, China
4. Delhi, India
5. Jaunpur, India
6. Faisalabad, Pakistan
7. Noida, India
8. Bahawalpur, Pakistan
9. Peshawar, Pakistan
10. Bagpat, India

Source: IQAir


Started: 2023
Co-founders: Arto Bendiken and Talal Thabet
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: AI
Number of employees: 41
Funding: About $1.7 million
Investors: Self, family and friends

The specs

Engine: 6.2-litre supercharged V8

Power: 712hp at 6,100rpm

Torque: 881Nm at 4,800rpm

Transmission: 8-speed auto

Fuel consumption: 19.6 l/100km

Price: Dh380,000

On sale: now


Virat Kohli (capt), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Vijay Shankar, MS Dhoni (wk), Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami


July 5, 1994: Jeff Bezos founds Cadabra Inc, which would later be renamed to, because his lawyer misheard the name as 'cadaver'. In its earliest days, the bookstore operated out of a rented garage in Bellevue, Washington

July 16, 1995: Amazon formally opens as an online bookseller. Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought becomes the first item sold on Amazon

1997: Amazon goes public at $18 a share, which has grown about 1,000 per cent at present. Its highest closing price was $197.85 on June 27, 2024

1998: Amazon acquires IMDb, its first major acquisition. It also starts selling CDs and DVDs

2000: Amazon Marketplace opens, allowing people to sell items on the website

2002: Amazon forms what would become Amazon Web Services, opening the platform to all developers. The cloud unit would follow in 2006

2003: Amazon turns in an annual profit of $75 million, the first time it ended a year in the black

2005: Amazon Prime is introduced, its first-ever subscription service that offered US customers free two-day shipping for $79 a year

2006: Amazon Unbox is unveiled, the company's video service that would later morph into Amazon Instant Video and, ultimately, Amazon Video

2007: Amazon's first hardware product, the Kindle e-reader, is introduced; the Fire TV and Fire Phone would come in 2014. Grocery service Amazon Fresh is also started

2009: Amazon introduces Amazon Basics, its in-house label for a variety of products

2010: The foundations for Amazon Studios were laid. Its first original streaming content debuted in 2013

2011: The Amazon Appstore for Google's Android is launched. It is still unavailable on Apple's iOS

2014: The Amazon Echo is launched, a speaker that acts as a personal digital assistant powered by Alexa

2017: Amazon acquires Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, its biggest acquisition

2018: Amazon's market cap briefly crosses the $1 trillion mark, making it, at the time, only the third company to achieve that milestone

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