Meet Arshi Ayub Mohamed Zaveri, dedicated to 12+ years of professional experience (Royal Family offices of Abu Dhabi & Dubai) in active partnerships that necessitate sub-structuring of strategic initiations, economic & political management, business & financial. Completed academic credentials in Public Policy Economics from the University of Oxford. CEO at TrustWithTrade Group of companies.
Who is Arshi Ayub? define yourself
I am Arshi Ayub Mohamed Zaveri. I spearhead the Trustwithtrade Group in the UAE that holds several assets in manufacturing, waste management, renewable energy, mining, biotechnology and fintech. The group activities are also inclusive of equity investment across companies, business advisory and strategic sovereign partnerships. I am also designated as the Senior advisor for the royal family offices in the UAE, and simultaneously on board of several trade councils and organizations across the globe.
How were you as a kid?
As a child, inherently curious about everything. However also very focused, disciplined and driven.
You hold a Bachelor of Financial Accountancy et a master’s degree in Business Management at Hassaram Rijhumal College of Commerce and Economics, academic credentials in Public Policy Economics from the University of Oxford. Why did choose those courses of study?
Took an interest in numbers from an early age hence, wanted to pursue and attain knowledge in accounting and taxation. Economics happened out of curiosity and reading the research of traditional and modern economists during high school.
“All my life I've been striving to make myself better. It is a full-time commitment. To be the best, you must work the hardest. You have to chase what seems impossible over and repeatedly, because giving up is not an option”
You are a very busy woman, and you participate as an International Mentor / Jury to several platforms that promote women empowerment & Women enablement. Jury Member at IWoman Global (“Care for Farmer” Initiative, Empower & excellence awards) Board Advisor at the Global Mental Health Association (GMHA) advocating the integration of public & private sector and creating ample solutions for Mental Health, what does it drive you?
My support for initiatives is due an instant connects vis a vis the person that I am. The Care for farmer initiative understands hardships that are faced by a farming household. That is why the program is designed to support the individual as well as the family unit. The support is via farming workshops, marketing, microfinancing, women, and child welfare & elder citizen care. People’s security, safety and wellbeing are top priorities for the UAE's leadership, as highlighted in the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces; and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, which demand promoting national efforts to help people face this global challenge. There is a definitive 1st inclusive mental health strategy for Dubai. The strategy is entitled as “Happy Lives, Healthy Communities”, was launched and harmonized with Dubai Health Strategy 2016-2021 to work towards positive operation and implementation, active participation of the community to eradicate the stigma associated with to mental illness, in addition to patient empowerment. The strategy plans to cover ten mental health development and improvement programs in Dubai by 2021.
“Connections are useless if you are lazy. Rich parents won’t buy your ambition, and luck means nothing if you are not prepared to pursue an opportunity”
Tell us a little more about your background before you became the CEO at Trust with Trade Group LLC (A UAE Company with 40 years of local experience, focused upon the sovereign sponsorships / company restructuring / Supplies of O&G equipment / onshore & offshore Chemical Manufacturing, Mining assets healthcare supplies, waste management & general trading.
I started my first business in trading at the age of 17, whilst studying and working at an organization. It was certainly overwhelming. However, taught me some key lessons. Virtue of time management, independence, networking, human skills, technical knowledge and many more. I received several rejections and made many mistakes before I signed agreements with others who put me on the map. I failed in many approaches but also won and achieved my goals when I started to analyze what I did wrong. Starting very early on, made me resilient, however the ability to bounce back on our feet after a failure on its own is not enough. Learned from making many errors, how to identify weaknesses and the cause of failures and how to work on them to develop skill and abilities and nature of the business. My experience previously has been explorative, which is the prime reason for the emergence of my present path and mindset. Before taking over as the CEO of TrustWithTrade Group, my professional journey was is a fine blend of Real estate debt / equity NBFC, energy and industrial transactions, ship wrecking, strategic and political associations for royal family offices in the UAE.
You are CEO at Trust with Trade Group LLC and Senior Advisor Royal Family Office (Dubai & Abu Dhabi) UAE to invest across Central & Southern Asia, EU & USA. Along with promoting bilateral trade and investments across many countries for the enterprises in the group portfolio and you are Senator, UAE at World Business Angels Investments Forum. Expert Council at G. World MENA, an online platform to facilitate alternative investments in the region. What´s the recipe for your success?
All my life I've been striving to make myself better. It is a full-time commitment. To be the best, you must work the hardest. You have to chase what seems impossible over and repeatedly, because giving up is not an option, and when you feel like you have reached your limit, it's only the beginning, that's when the time to dig deep, to find the courage to push some more, because if you've got the drive, the discipline, and the resolve to do what it takes to make yourself great, then the rewards are endless.
Very important to remember to turn to your own self in moments of success as well as failure. If you accept the inevitability of life’s twists and turns and find the opportunity for growth in the struggles you face, you can prevent the unnecessary, self-inflicted suffering that comes from feelings like guilt, blame and regret. You cannot avoid hardship in life, but . . . you can learn to see that your true self remains unchanged -- and so you can find peace and ease even amidst life’s difficulties.
Things will go wrong in work and life, but we don’t have to hate ourselves or the world in response. We can simply accept those moments, welcome them even, because they do not change the essence of who we are and merely provide better contrast for the equally inevitable moments of joy that life brings.
What are the biggest lessons you have learned over the years working for the Royal Family?
The list is endless. However, here are some Key lessons for all:
- Unending passion for the country
- Build strong relationships.
- Never to stop learning
- Think ahead. Be certain & manage ambiguity
- Kindness and empathy
- You don’t Fail. You Learn
- Inclusivity and Tolerance
- Commitment to continuous development.
“I am a big believer in long-standing relationships. We can and should take charge of how we react to what’s happening around us that is beyond our control. And the best way to do that is to concentrate on building positive relationships with as many people as possible starting with those closest to you and radiating out from there”
Based on your experience working internationally, what are the differences in the corporate culture between the UAE and the USA?
The United Arab Emirates and United States are close friends and strong allies. With shared interests and common values, the UAE and USA work together to promote regional security, create economic prosperity and address pressing global challenges. The UAE is a great place for many reasons. Dubai and Abu Dhabi are fast becoming one of the most desirable cities in the world, but it also represents a gateway into so many other parts of the world. The US and the emirates are both multicultural societies. People from all over the world work in the UAE and they are given similar opportunities. Some of them get the chance to advance their education in the emirates. The US too is largely a secular state and people in the country have diverse range of beliefs.
The US and the UAE differ on several aspects. Their land size and populations differ, and this contributes to some of the differences. In addition, religion tends to be a main aspect of life for people in the UAE. It determines the way they lead and direct their lives. Religion determines people’s behavior and interaction with each other. The US is largely a secular country. Geography, climate, and political systems also contribute to the differences. In addition, accessibility and immigration laws are also instrumental in determining the differences between the two countries. The US & the UAE have been reliable Allies for 41 Years.
There are perhaps many myths in the world about how women live in the Middle East and North Africa, what can you tell us about it?
Women in the UAE enjoy equal opportunities, like men, for work and investment, financial and logistic facilities to conduct their own businesses and private projects in all fields. More than ten thousand businesswomen in the country own and run their own businesses. The capital managed by women amounts to Dh12. 5 billion (about US$3.17 billion) invested in various fields, including trade, industry finance, real estate, tourism, fairs and exhibitions, construction and services.”
Women in the UAE are playing a leading role in developing emerging-technology sectors. Women are key drivers of the technology agenda in academia, research, government, and the private digital sector. They are directing the use of technology to create an impact for city constituents in all sectors. The 27.5% of women who make up the UAE cabinet all play key roles in supporting technology and innovation in the country. Here, women are not a stark minority in technology sector—they are a part of all the major tech initiatives and, in many instances, leading them.
“I have learned to make myself indispensable at whatever it is I am doing, and that it will always get promoted – but sometimes you have to be patient”
I loved a quote you said, “Your character is your brand. Remember that”. Can you elaborate?
Very early on, my father instilled the need to maintain a strong and an ethical character. Both in my personal & professional life. He asked me to never forget this. I am a fundamental believer that connections are useless if you are lazy. Rich parents won’t buy your ambition, and luck means nothing if you are not prepared to pursue an opportunity. And whilst, you do this, stay true to your roots, keep your feet on the ground and maintain the highest standards of integrity. For any personal or professional endeavor, is entirely riding on the same.
Everybody has had dark moments in their lives, what have you done to get out of that phase?
As a person in leadership & influencing position, I live a dichotomous life during these times. One minute you have to be calm to help everyone else calm down, but the next minute you have to be excited to help inspire people. One minute you must empower people to be creative and try things on their own, and the next minute you’ve got to instill discipline and say, “This is what we’re going to do, and everybody has to line up.” In turnarounds, you need more prioritizing, more connection with others, more humanity, more trust, more communication, more clarity, more transparency, and more willingness to be there for people. But there is also less of a need for perfection and for having all the data before you decide.
That requires bone-deep self-confidence and flexibility and adaptability. If you don’t have that in a crisis situation, it’s all over. You have to maintain discipline while adapting minute-by-minute, and you cannot worry about the things you might have missed. If they’re critical, of course, you must worry about them. But if you do something wrong, you take a moment to analyze it, determine how you’d do it differently, then you’ve got to let it go because you’ve got too many other things to worry about. You cannot obsess about things that you can’t control. This crisis is a perfect example. We have no control over this.
“Instead of looking for success, make a list of how to fail instead — through sloth, envy, resentment, self-pity, entitlement, all the mental habits of self-defeat. Avoid these qualities and you will succeed”.
I am a big believer in long-standing relationships. We can and should take charge of how we react to what’s happening around us that is beyond our control. And the best way to do that is to concentrate on building positive relationships with as many people as possible starting with those closest to you and radiating out from there. Getting back into relationship building is what makes us human and helps all of us deal with crises or any dark moments. Let’s concentrate on finding more ways to help each other cope and come out on the other side of this as stronger human beings with stronger relationships.
What does a normal workday look like for you?
A normal workday begins with few phone calls and two large cups of black coffee. Presently many online interactions. Post that, few meetings on priority and then speaking to my team members. I close my day by documenting the work schedule and updates in a daily to – do. It’s been over 12 years, and each day of my professional journey is still present with me.
Do you have any philosophy that guides your career decisions?
It’s important to find a balance between developing your skills and knowing when it’s best to delegate so you can focus on what you need to grow your business. The traditional view is that your career should follow just one path, but, if you’ve got the passion and the motivation, there’s no reason why you can’t pursue a variety of experiences. For me, as a business owner is about having ownership and impact and you don’t have to create your own businesses to achieve that.
I am very intuitive. No one is born knowing how to make all the right decisions; There are times when that little voice becomes faint only to sound like an alarm when we realize we’ve made the wrong choice. It’s all part of the process and we should appreciate both moments equally. I don't have any regrets and try not to look at things that do not last as failures. All learning experiences and if you push forward you can apply those lessons to your future projects. We aren't supposed to get it on the first try. You must fail to succeed. Follow your gut.
I have learnt to make myself indispensable at whatever it is I am doing, and that it will always get promoted – but sometimes you have to be patient. It took me awhile to realize that recognition is a lagging indicator, and new opportunities with greater responsibility are leading indicators of future success. Most often, you will get an opportunity when you are excelling, but the recognition and the compensation, come later. You may find yourself becoming frustrated, bitter and impatient. I know I did. Consider if there is still more to learn, still more to improve upon. And then decide for yourself the demarcation line between being patient and being overworked.
What do you love most about your job as CEO? & what is the most difficult part?
No one day in my life, is the same. That is what keeps me thoroughly motivated and excited to wake up each morning, and face everything from the fore. Challenges as a CEO are very normal, however they are also the reason for me to get up each day and go to work. Another incredible aspect is the ability to influence, motivate, and inspire others, coach them to improve, and work harmoniously together with a team to build success for each one involved.
What slightly challenging is, to not get complacent. As a business owner, know that it's much harder to restart stalled momentum than it is to keep going. In all essence, your business will never be ‘fully built’ and complacency ultimately trickles down. Hence, my focus is that when things go indifferent or monotonous, it's time to reevaluate what is being done and make a change or diversify.
“Just because your role model is following a particular routine, has achieved a particular result doesn't mean it will also work for you, because you are DIFFERENT”
What is one strategy that has helped you grow in your professional ladder?
- To Analyze what can go wrong instead of what can go right. Things constantly go wrong no matter how smart and hardworking you are. Invert always invert: Turn a situation or problem upside down. Look at it backward. Assess What happens if all our plans go wrong? Where don’t we want to go, and how do you get there? Instead of looking for success, make a list of how to fail instead — through sloth, envy, resentment, self-pity, entitlement, all the mental habits of self-defeat. Avoid these qualities and you will succeed. Tell me where I’m going to die so I don’t go there.
- To Embrace failure. When you are failing, you are forced to be creative, to dig deep and think, night and day.
- To be flexible and outward looking. We embraced digital diversification and started investing in technology at the right time, that helped us sail smooth during crisis.
- 2020 is the year of the pivot. We’ve all embraced individual ways to keep our companies and careers moving. Maintain focus on the new opportunities that can be created right now. Identify potential possibilities and pursue them. We may pave our own paths, but we travel them together.
What situation marked your life in a way that prompted you to be who you are today?
There is one piece of advice my father gave me, which stays relevant till today. At a time when I didn’t understand work dynamics, he said why don’t you figure out exactly what you don’t know and see who within your company knows it and go ask them to teach you. And while that felt terrifying at the time it’s one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever gotten. Turns out, people were very open to sharing their knowledge and that allowed me to break a barrier, gave the opportunity to work closely with professionals I might not have, otherwise.This piece of advice changed me as a person and is relevant to date. I don’t feel shy in asking questions, learning, and valuing the knowledge shared with me. Remember, everyone knows something that you don’t. Be open to it.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I am always reading one or two books at any given time, and over time I've read some truly fantastic books that have helped me gain perspective or improve myself and my business. It a habit my mother inculcated, very early on. Also, each day I make time to unwind for at least two hours. A quick run by the beach or a quiet stroll.
KEY: Many authors say women can and must strive to have everything – a shining career, a blossoming family life and a perfectly balanced lifestyle all at once, others point out that– then women are placing unrealistic expectations on themselves if they believe they can have it all, I don´t know if you are married and have kids so according to your experience, what do you think about these statements?
The hardest thing is managing work-life balance. It’s often said that becoming your own boss means having flexibility in your work schedule, but I have not found that to be entirely true. Being an entrepreneur is what I absolutely love, but there have been times when balancing work and family has seemed impossible. How do you explain that you’re late because you had to take your father to the doctor? How do you tell your husband you can’t see him for lunch because you have a business meeting that can’t be rescheduled? Being entrepreneurial has enabled me to find solutions for the balancing act, but it hasn’t been easy. And I’m sure, all of us face this.
What are your plans for the future?
Plenty of exciting ventures. Announcements will be made in due time.
There is still the glass ceiling for women in the world: Fewer opportunities, jobs underpaid just for that fact of being a woman, etc. Have you experimented with the glass ceiling? if yes, what are the biggest challenges you have faced and how have you overcome them?
I remember meeting a woman who told me she had been refused a loan by four banks. I looked at her papers and everything was perfectly fine. There was absolutely no reason for the refusal. I asked her what she had worn to the bank and then had her to make an appointment for the next day and lent her a standard briefcase. She came back with the loan. The same thing might have occurred for a male who was not well presented. The problem was that she had no idea that her appearance would matter to this extent. She was an incredible entrepreneur but had not learned to present herself. Society and stereotypes exist in every part of the world. This is just one example of the many challenges women face. However, one thing is certain, our DNA allows us to stay strong and come out victorious, no matter what. We must keep moving, for that is how everything else will.
What tips, can you give to young girls who want to become like you?
Be yourself. Being inspired is great, however, each one of us is unique. Embrace and respect that point, for that will help you tremendously. Just because your role model is following a particular routine, has achieved a particular result doesn't mean it will also work for you, because you are DIFFERENT. Yes, you are not that person. So, your beliefs, sense of emotions, level of endurance, and attitude will be different, and realize that is your strength. It really is that simple.
I think in your position, many people may have the wrong idea of who you really are (personally), and what do you (professionally), with this idea in mind, what is being Arshi and what´s not?
Often, the perception is very different and far from reality. I lead a very normal, simple life. I respect and value my work, hence the dedication and the hours put in. However, equal efforts are deployed to have a good time with family, reading books, and talking to friends. It really is as simple as this.
Who is the woman you admire the most and why?
My mother. By all means. She was married at a very early age and completed education up until high school. However, she began reading books in English and Arabic and taught us to take up reading. She started learning to speak well, so that we have larger command over languages, whilst conversing. I see her entirely self-motivated, curious, and so full of life, to date. Truly she is one woman, I hope and aspire to be.
Name: Arshi Ayub Mohamed Zaveri
Company: TrustWithTrade Group / Royal Family Offices United Arab Emirates.
Designation: CEO / Senior Advisor
Country: United Arab Emirates