By Thomas Shambler
Vishal Anand, CEO of communications agency Blue Apple, believes that dedication – as well as the ability to put it all on the line – is what makes leaders stand out.
What's the story behind your business?
The UAE is the perfect place to pursue your dreams, and after having worked in the communications industry for 19 years, I decided to start my own. My dream was to build a reputable brand communications agency, which would be known for its high creative standards.
Where do you see the company going in the next few years?
Our focus for the next five years is to become a lot stronger with a larger footprint in the region. The future is digital, and we are working towards becoming a lot stronger in that area, adding relevant expertise both in terms of resources as well as technology so that we can offer best-in-class solutions to our clients.
So technology is a big focus for you?
I think the transition from traditional to digital media is a big challenge currently facing the industry. We're working on how to integrate digital into the mix in a way that maximises return on investment for our clients.
Do you believe social networking has impacted your organisation?
It's impacted all of us on a daily basis, and I only see it getting stronger in the times ahead. The way all of us are connected to the environment, to friends, clients, partners. Everything is very dynamic and done in real time.
How do you encourage creative thinking at Blue Apple?
We have a very open culture policy, and we recently initiated monthly contests for the best ideas across divisions.
What's the best part about working for your company?
I enjoy seeing ideas get built up, thread-by-thread-and then come to fruition.
Is there an individual who has had an impact on you as a leader?
I have had the privilege of working with many inspiring people throughout my career and one of them is Alok Agrawal, ex-VP of Communications at Grey Worldwide, India. It was a truly enriching experience to learn the intricacies of the communications business and also how to manage client expectations through a carefully thought through strategic approach.
What's the biggest decision you've ever had to make for your company?
For me, the biggest challenge was arranging for working capital. I had to sell my property in 2010 for funding when we first started business operations. A risk like that is never entered into lightly.
Let's say you are faced with two equally qualified job candidates. How would you determine who to hire?
To me, the term 'qualification' is only ever mentioned during the hiring process. It's not a tangible trait. What's more important to me is the passion to perform. Honesty, ownership and the drive to create new ideas are the key values that I look for in candidates.
What advice would you give to someone who's just been put in charge of a team?
To have a clear vision of your goals, and to follow a milestone-based approach to management. To invest in people who believe in you and your vision. And to keep a close eye on your finances.
What's one mistake leaders tend to make more frequently than others?
Sometimes people can get carried away with their work or their business, and lose sight of the future of the company. Yes, running the day-to-day of the enterprise is important, but so is taking care of its growth.
What's your greatest fear in business?
That I might lose everything I've built one day.
How do you prepare for uncertainty in the market?
It's important to stick with what you're good at. Know your strengths, and keep your costs under control.
What's one thing most people don't know about you?
I really enjoy cooking. And I can make a few very tasty dishes.
Do you have a productivity tip that you wish everyone knew?
It's important to keep taking regular breaks from your work. It's a great way to stay fresh and fit. It also means you're always excited to get back to your job.
What's your most prized possession?
I have a silver ring with a blue sapphire stone. I believe it gives me positive energy and luck.
Why do you get out of bed each day?
To make the most out of the beautiful day ahead. It's also easy when each day I get to work on my dreams.
Did you always want to do this job?
I was born into a service class family, and I guess opposites do attract because right from my high school days I wanted to have my own business. Fortunately, everything fell into place.
How do you manage a large company but still find time for things like friends and family?
They say time management is an art, and I am learning it as well as I can. During the week it can be tricky, but weekends are always committed to spending time with the family.
Are there any activities that help you switch off from the office?
I like painting with my son; it helps me turn off from work. I also play golf once or twice a week.
What does a typical day look like for you?
A regular day always has one or two meetings in it, as well as many discussions with key team members on various projects and campaigns. I always meet with my CFO to go over the finances and other administrative matters. Then I call it a day and get home for dinner with my family.
Do you have any daily rituals that help prime you for the day ahead?
I exercise each day for 30 minutes. I also regularly meditate by chanting prayer mantras after I am done getting ready.
If you were to step outside the office and find a lottery ticket that ended up being worth a million dirhams, what would you do with the money?
I would book a cruise holiday to Alaska first. And then buy another lottery ticket.
Finish this sentence, "the world would be a better place if only…"
There was peace around us and no war.
Thanks for sharing this about passionate and interesting man !!