The man Ghazi Abu Nahl is as interesting and impressive as the business tycoon. Abu Nahl, who gives great importance to values in life and business, never fails to mention the role of his wife and family members in the success of his business as well as in life.
Abu Nahl answers some personal questions from Arabian Knight:
What is your work day like? How do you spend the rest of the day?
I am an early riser. I typically wake up around sunrise each morning and say my prayers, followed by a hearty breakfast while I read the morning’s newspapers – aside from our local Cypriot newspapers, I always have a copy of the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal to make sure I’m up to date on the world’s business stories.
The rest of the day will vary, depending on my diary. I could be anywhere (in my office, on the phone or travelling to any of the group’s various locations) but I’ll always be engaged in the day-to-day running of the business, the welfare of our staff and the issues facing our clients.
Outside of work, my main passion is my family. I’ve now got seven grandchildren and I take immense pride in the role of grandad.
Do you spend a lot of time travelling? Books, movies or rest while on flight?
Yes, I do travel frequently as Nest has so many locations around the world. I like to remain hands-on whenever I can, and so I look forward to visiting each Nest location to get updates on the business from the ground. Travel time is precious to me and so I use it to relax and recharge before landing and jumping into the next challenge. In the air I spend my time reading, sleeping, eating and watching films.
How do you balance family and work with so much on your plate?
The great thing about having grown-up children is that getting the balance right isn’t so much of a problem anymore. When my children were younger and needed their parents to be hands-on, my wife and I had to work closely as a team to make sure that at least one of us was always home each night. I made sure that I always spent time at home between trips and tried to spend as much time at home in the evenings as possible. I got very good at maths homework!
Now that my children are all grown-up with children of their own, coordinating work and family is much easier. As my children are all involved in the business I do not struggle to spend time with them. Now, I spend much of my weekends on babysitting duty for the grandkids. And we always make sure that the whole family is together for religious holidays.
Your wife is a partner in your business too. Tell us about her influence in shaping your career...
My wife Hind has been absolutely pivotal throughout my career and has influenced me in more ways that I can even begin to imagine. She’s been a true partner in every sense of the word: she’s a shareholder in the company in addition to being the backbone of our family life.
She makes wise and rational business decisions and has counselled me through many professional challenges. Her devotion to our family unit and care for all of us is beyond any praise that I can give her. She’s a very caring, kind person and it has been the utmost privilege to build our lives together.
How do the family members help in your business?
All my children play active roles in the business. Three of them are involved as board members or heads of business lines within the group. We’re a family business at the core, but all of my children are qualified and hardworking. My wife and I hold them to the highest standards – just like anybody else performing such important roles at Nest. I am confident that my children fully understand that their first responsibility is to the company and all of our stakeholders.
Is it family matters at dining table or business?
Everything ends up mixing together. We talk business at home and on occasion talk family at work. When we all sit down to eat together at our home, it is inevitable that business will come up – we all live, breathe and sleep what we do.
What advice do you have for youngsters seeking a career in insurance industry?
My advice would be to get a wide array of experience early on. As we all know, these days a university degree isn’t enough to land a good job, and so work experience has become increasingly important to set candidates apart from others. There is no need to study insurance either; we are looking for a diverse array of candidates with a range of skills.
When you do get your foot in the door, work hard and contribute to your team’s shared goal. Ensure that your working life is a full one by getting involved in corporate social responsibility initiatives, workplace diversity efforts and transparent business practice.
As an achiever from a refugee family yourself, if you had one wish to change the world, what would it be?
I would wish for a world in which democracy is universal, human rights are respected, homes are returned to those forced to leave and regulations are in line with the business needs of each local market.
Do you have any role models in life?
Or someone who had great influence on you?
I have the utmost respect for what my parents did to bring us up, and I seek to emulate their strength of character each and every day. Aside from them, Gandhi. He was a simple but clever leader who only ever treated others with respect and humility.
Career-wise, what is the best compliment you have ever received, the best advice you’ve ever received, and your one regret in life?
The best compliment I have ever received comes in two parts – being awarded the Lifetime achievement award by FAIR (Federation of Afro Asia Insurance syndicate) and named Chair of the World Trade Association in New York (and now Chairman Emeritus). Both are highly prestigious, and I am flattered each and every day.
The best advice I have ever received came from my father and is very simple: “keep your assets and build on them”. This has been my model all the way through.
I don’t like to have regrets and prefer to view my mistakes as learning opportunities, but I do wish I had diversified my business into other territories sooner. Our international expansion has been one of our greatest successes and had I taken more risks earlier, who knows where Nest might be. Still, I’m happy with what we have achieved.
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