Money & Me: Emirati’s best investment yet to come

Hind Saleh bin Lahej is the chief financial controller at the Saleh bin Lahej Group, a family business in the UAE’s construction and hospitality sectors. The Emirati, in her 30s, started her career in sales in the telecoms industry, before launching her own business, Hind Tailoring, which specialises in Jalabiya design.

Describe your financial journey so far

During my early years my main focus was to gain market knowledge and experience. I also wanted to establish some reasonable savings to achieve my primary goal of having my own business. I’m now celebrating the 10th anniversary of my business – a dream come true. In 2010 I joined my family’s well-established business as chief financial controller, taking on the responsibility for managing multiple departments such as HR, finance and purchasing. Doing this job in addition to managing my own business has been a big challenge; however, it has paid off well today.

Are you a spender or saver?

I’d say both to a degree. We all save money to spend it eventually. Saving enabled me to achieve my goal of starting my own business, but for sure, spending is a joy particularly on travel and shopping. What works for me is to make my savings work in the long run by making the right choices and decisions at the right time. However, those choices and decisions have to come from individual learning experiences.

What is your philosophy towards money?

No one can deny the importance of money as a tool that helps you achieve success. However, there are many other things you must give importance to in your life other than money, and that is the power within us that drives us towards success. Although money is definitely a key motivating factor, it is really the passion within us that brings success.

Have you made any financial mistakes along the way?

Of course. For me, it was an investment in shares; dishonesty was the reason for losing out in that investment. But the incident taught me a great lesson, as the very well known saying goes: “Don’t place all your eggs in one basket”. There’s a learning curve that everyone has to go through; I believe that you have to fall and stand up again, and that the lessons you learn in this manner makes you more intelligent. You need to understand the market and do your due diligence to be able to make the right decision.

If you won Dh1 million, what would you do with it?

That would be an unexpected helping hand. My first instinct would be to go shopping, but that would be a waste. Spending a windfall like that on material things is all very well, but the investment opportunity is gone. As we get older and more mature, we tend to make our money work for us more. Right now if I were to win Dh1 million I would expand my business. Can I make it Dh5 million instead?

What has been your best investment?

That’s a hard question. I’ve learnt a lot, both positive and negative from my investments. We can always do our homework and root out the bad investments as much as possible, but it’s when we really act upon a careful plan that we truly know whether our instincts on the investment were correct. I still believe there is a lot more to achieve and for now I’d say that my best investment is yet to come.

Do you plan for the future?

Yes I am analysing a few options, there are always new opportunities that come knocking on my door, but I like to take my time and not rush into things. I like to analyse the opportunities and talk to friends and family about it, but in the end the decision is mine, because the risks are mine. In terms of right now, my future plan is to invest in real estate.

What do you enjoy spending your money on?

Myself and my home (clothes, jewellery and home decoration). I also spend on luxury goods to treat myself after I receive a return on my investments.

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John Everington

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