Money & Me: ‘My most cherished purchase is my wife's wedding ring’

Mohamad Fayez, managing director of data and analytics company Kagool, enjoys spending on cars, travel and experiences

Mohamad Fayez believes cash is king and made good money in the US stock market. Chris Whiteoak / The National
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Mohamad Fayez is managing director of global data and analytics company Kagool MEA in Dubai.

Born in Egypt, he joined Microsoft in 2007 to work on the groundbreaking Office 365 programme and moved to Dubai in 2009. After a stint in the US, he returned in 2017.

Mr Fayez co-launched tech company ITWorks Hub and was part of Israeli start-up Accellion, which went public on the New York Stock Exchange.

Now 42, Mr Fayez and his “Moroccan sweetheart” wife live in Dubai Marina with their daughters, aged 15 and 13.

Were you exposed to money growing up?

I had a very enjoyable childhood in Cairo. My mum used to be a teacher; my dad had his own business doing food manufacturing and agriculture.

We could afford a good life. I never had any discussions when it came to money and savings, but was a big fan of Lego and Meccano and they had the ability to give me all the “tools”.

Did this influence your career?

I was fascinated with technology and cars from a very young age and video gaming — Nintendo, Sega, Atari — the graphic design, animation, how things worked.

My parents managed to get me anything that would fulfil my desire to “build” something.

At six, I was like: “I’m gonna work in technology.” My childhood shaped my future, my ability to work on new technology.

When did you first earn?

I worked for my dad. He had a factory, I was 15 and I decided to go with the truck and meet with supermarket owners to get an understanding of how they perceived our products, the competition and how we could improve.

It was four or five days a week, a couple of hours after school, for $10 to $20. I was keen to use my money to upgrade my PC or get internet connection.

The first year of college, I opened a mobile phone business. I borrowed money from my dad (to do this).

I was really passionate about different phones and devices … it was not just about making money but also to experience new technology.

I also had two jobs and paid my tuition fees in the last two years at a private university to get my computer science degree.

Have you become financially independent?

I spent 10 years working for Microsoft, overachieving my targets, and was one of the youngest directors.

With Accellion, I managed to drive the business and secure my life financially. Most board members were ex-Microsoft.

The company was trying to change the way traffic lights worked, based on AI rather than time. It got valued around $1.8 billion in six months. I had 50,000 shares.

I’m repeating things with Kagool. I’m not an owner, I don’t have shares, but the opportunity is tremendous.

I am a big fan of the model “create, build scale, start again”.

Where do you park your wealth?

It’s in the bank and real estate, an apartment in Egypt, a nice home in the US.

I’m not just buying for the sake of buying, so we can protect (wealth). It’s because I like a house or the opportunity of experiencing an area.

Mohamad Fayez is passionate about cars and drives a Maserati and a Porsche Macan S. Chris Whiteoak / The National

In the US, I managed to make good money from the stock market. Right now, I believe cash is king.

I’m not investing in property in Dubai yet and the stock market is volatile, so I’m waiting to see what’s going to happen.

Is there a key financial decision you made?

I believe the best investment was leaving Microsoft and moving back (to Dubai) for a new company, ITWorks Hub.

I was making more working for Microsoft, but you get to a level where you’re not advancing or learning, you don’t have challenges. I hate to feel I’m in the comfort zone.

I never work for a company just to make money. I want to enjoy it.

When you provide value and build something desired by the market, money will be a consequence of the success — you will get money as the reward.

Any cherished spends?

My wife’s wedding ring. Imagine you’re with someone who’s taking risks most of the time.

I owe her a lot. Without her support … she’s always telling me to “go with your heart”.

Another thing is going with my kids to watch Boss Baby, my favourite movie. They tell me I’m a “boss baby” from a character perspective — I like to drive things, I’m very focused and can influence others.

I hate to feel I’m in the comfort zone. I never work for a company just to make money. I want to enjoy it
Mohamad Fayez, managing director, Kagool MEA

Are you comfortable with risk?

I am a risk-taker, but the risks should equal the opportunity. And if the opportunity is huge, the reward will be huge as well.

I have this slogan: “Go big or go home.” If it doesn’t work, you lose your job, or for any reason you lose your money … start again, build it again.

So I’m a big career risk-taker, but I enjoy living life.

I’m saving, but at the same time I want to enjoy (the money) — I travel, I’m a big fan of cars.

How do you feel about money?

I like to earn money — I don’t enjoy eating the fish, I enjoy the fishing more.

Every time I work with something, once it becomes really big, I exit and start again.

I enjoy the reward; what money can buy is making me happy. And it’s a good way to measure your success, but it’s not the only way.

A salary package is one of the ways to recognise success and experience.

Any spending weaknesses?

I have a specific passion about cars, not crazy cars. I never wished to get a Ferrari. I have a Maserati and a Porsche Macan S, a family car.

I work hard for my money and really enjoy the mechanics of cars, not just because I like to drive. I tend to my car personally, modifying it.

If I wasn’t working in technology, I would have a workshop … maybe when I retire.

I like to enjoy the driving experience. I had a Mazda 3 for 10 days, but didn’t enjoy it, so decided to sell. I also kept a Mercedes GLK for four months — I didn’t enjoy it.

Are you wiser with money?

I’m becoming wiser. I change my car every year rather than every four months.

My daughters changed my priorities in life. I’m focusing on making sure they’re getting a good education.

In business, you start with small things, put in your effort, logic and strategy and if you’re successful, it’s going to grow and be self-sufficient.

You try to apply the same thing for kids, to impact their life.

My parents spent every cent on my education. I was getting computer courses when I was nine because I had a passion for technology. That was extremely important for my life.

What are you happiest spending on?

Family time is a necessity. If I’m travelling for vacation, I’m going to enjoy it, so I take it to the maximum luxury level that I can afford.

If I cannot afford it, I’m not leaving home because it’s not a must.

If I’m doing something for fun, I have to do it the right way. Experiences are a big thing.

Updated: November 21, 2022, 4:02 AM