A man who was dreaming, a leader who was striving and an entrepreneur who succeeded – I would like to welcome Mr. Raju Menon, Chairman and Group Managing Partner of Morison Menon Group.
One can undoubtedly say Morison Menon’s journey under the leadership of Mr. Raju Menon was a remarkable one – from a 3 member practice 23 years back, to one of the leading Audit and Consulting firm headquartered in the UAE with global association over 88 countries. Employing more than 400 empowered professionals, Mr. Raju Menon displays cheerfulness when he speaks about the caliber of staff that works at his firm. And there is no surprise, as he has a formula on how to develop, attract and retain the best talents.
Mr. Raju Menon’s outlook towards life and work can be captured in a few simple words: diligence, professionalism, integrity, compassion and service. Every decision and action of Menon is guided by these principles, and the exemplary success he has achieved can certainly prove that he has chosen the right path.
- What kind of personality are you? Tell me more about yourself as an individual and as an entrepreneur?
Leadership instinct in my mind which I inherited from my parents prompted me to start my own business. I have very flexible and manageable personality but to a certain extent. In important matters to me, I am very bold and strong. As an entrepreneur and an individual, I am a humble and down to earth person who does not care much about money part. Money is for spending. The more you spend on business and people important to you, the more you earn. I also believe that essential quality which every human should have is a good attitude. It can really help you to win people: your clients, your employees, your contacts etc.
- What business skills and personal qualities millennials generation should learn from baby boomers generation in order to succeed as entrepreneurs?
Millennials should learn how to be smart managers. Managers who excel at working smart are enablers, not doers. They help others get work done by being facilitators, catalysts, coaches, influencers and developers of people.
For generation of baby boomers, hard work and professional qualification were a must to become successful. Nowadays living in the age of technology, such things as hard work and professional degree are not as much important as it used to be before. Millennials with only basic qualification and leadership skills, smart way of thinking and professional attitude can succeed much faster compare to the generation of baby boomers.
- From business perspective, how do you see next 5 years compare to last 5 years in the UAE?
Since 2008 UAE economy has been affected by international financial crisis. I can’t say that it has been fully recovered by now. However UAE showed its efficiency to cope with the global economic downturn by promoting the diversification of the economy across many sectors. The highlight of the structural transformation that Dubai underwent over the last few decades is the city’s evolution as a trade, investment, services and knowledge hub. Its state-of-the-art infrastructure and business-friendly regulations, along with a demonstrated ability to adapt to investor needs and changing global economic patterns, have set Dubai apart among regional and international hubs. All this will establish Dubai as the preferred destination for entrepreneurs in the upcoming 5 years. It already is to a large extent, but I feel it will open a lot of doors to the West of this region – Europe and UK and we may see a number of companies from Dubai entering that part of the world, and a number of companies from the West expanding their presence in the region.
- If you were to start a business today in UAE and had a capital of AED 200,000, what industry would you choose and why?
I would start business in the service industry again. The reason is that it has very low cost of entry. You don’t need to hire people because initially you can provide service yourself. You don’t require an office, flexi desk would be enough. The growth of your company will only depend on your personal and professional skills.
Any other industries, for example trading, I find it impossible to enter with a capital of AED 200,000 only. If you increase your initial investment from AED 200,000 to 2 million than it will make sense.
- What is your view on the current bankruptcy law?
The new UAE Bankruptcy Law came into force as a response to the 2008 global financial crisis. The new law was designed to encourage the development of a “rescue culture”.
Businessmen will no more have to face arrest or legal prosecution for unpaid debts, nor do they have to flee the country – as many had done in the past – to avoid jail term following the implementation of the landmark UAE insolvency law.
However, since the law, which came into effect by end-2016, is applicable only to commercial firms, government-owned companies and individual traders, non-trader individuals who are unable to repay their debts will not get protection from arrest under the law. In other words, insolvent individuals will not be able to resort to the new bankruptcy law to avoid criminal prosecution. As a result, cases of personal bounced cheques will remain subject to the general rules under the UAE Civil Code.
And like any new law, it will take time for all to fully understand how the law will be implemented in practice, and until applications are filed, the practical effects of the Bankruptcy Law can only be analyzed theoretically.
- What are the major differences between a “good company” and a “great company” from your professional experience?
In my opinion the major difference between great and good company is a corporate culture. A great company creates an environment that employees are attracted to – they love being there, they want to be part of it.
People are essential to greatness. Great companies use part of their budget to create experiences for their employees to connect emotionally them with the business, create camaraderie and unity to increase performance, embrace families and personal lives to create more respect, and inject some fun into their routine.
In great companies, leadership is not about creating followers but creating more leaders by identifying potential in each employee and putting him/her at right place to bring the best out of them.
- Being in audit business for over 20 years and supervising different businesses, can you say whether regular donation/charitable work of a single company has any direct impact on its profit growth?
I don’t think there is a direct impact, at least in my business. I do charity but I have never thought it would increase my company’s income. It is my personal passion and I do not expect anything in return. I firmly believe that first priority into charitable activities should be given to your employees and their families. That can really bring value to your growth because they are so happy and happiness means more productivity.
- How Morison Menon Group is going to conquer year of 2018?
In 2018 our main focus will be on growing financial services: tax practice, corporate finance, private equity placement, IFRS 9. In the next 5 to 10 years, our plan is to enter investment banking. Maybe we will also look how artificial intelligence and cryptocurrencies with blockchain technology can be integrated into our practice.