Mahatma Gandhi once said— “Leadership at one time meant muscles, but today it means inspiring people”. CEO Insights’ exclusive team rendezvous with an influential business leader, Rajesh Soares, Corporate Director of Finance, Al Ain Coop, who believes in a similar ideology and leads with his ability to connect with people for the purpose of empowering their lives. An adept in Finance & Accounting, Rajesh began his professional journey as the Cost Control Assistant in the hotel industry for Leela Kempinski Hotel in Mumbai.
His industryspecific knowledge and strong technical skills enabled him to move to the Sultanate of Oman to take up bigger opportunities that were offered to him by the Intercontinental Hotel Muscat. Soon, he was associated with some of the most luxurious brands in the hotel industry of the Middle East like the Jumeirah Beach Hotel, the Emirates Palace, and the Mall of the Emirates. In each organization, in different leadership roles, Rajesh has been able to successfully defining financial verticals and secure great achievements for the establishments by training and encouraging his teams to live by the values led by the organizations. Currently, as the Corporate Director of Finance of Al Ain Coop, Wahat Al Masa, and Al Masa Mills, he is achieving commercial goals for its 45 retail stores spread across UAE and providing training & support to over 1,200 staff coming from 17 nationalities.
Rajesh is a visionary leader with a great strategic mind, thorough knowledge of Finance & Accounting, and outstanding people skills. With his exceptional ability to assist the board members of the company to maintain a sound cash flow situation within the company, he is playing the role of a key force in spearheading Al Ain Coop’s future growth. Below is an excerpt of CEO Insights’ exclusive interview with him.
How would you define Al Ain Coop as an organization?
Al Ain Coop is a co-operative supermarket chain – the first of its kind established in Al Ain, the Green City of United Arab Emirates in 1981. Our focus has always been to provide a superior shopping experience for our customers while offering diverse consumer products of high quality and competitive prices through the continuous development of our current stores.
You possess three decades of experience. How has your path to success been and what is your success mantra?
The last 30 years have been extremely satisfying as along the way I have received numerous opportunities to grow professionally as well as personally. In every role, I have looked for opportunities to care for my fellow colleagues and support their well-being. This has indeed helped me to build relationships with people at work, including my seniors, co-workers, staff, and clients.
My success mantra is based on the principle of ‘TTT’. Where the first T signifies training the people after hiring, the second T signifies giving them time to learn, and the third T signifies trusting them with their responsibilities. I prefer hiring fresh graduates or people who might not have much experience but certainly have the technical knowledge that is required in the current technologically-advanced scenario. I train my team and give them time to learn and trust them while they contribute to the growth of the organization. In other words, my mantra is my team which is also the backbone of my successful end results.
What motivates your daily routine?
I love and enjoy my role which keeps me enthusiastic about future challenges and opportunities. I am also very compassionate toward my peers and have the inclination to help & support them in any given circumstance. A friendly atmosphere at the workplace acts as a motivation for me to deliver positive outcomes every day.
As the Corporate Director of Finance, what are the unique strategies that you have developed to attract audiences in the market?
As an organization, we follow the strategy of 3Bs- Best Value, Best Services, and Best Range to attract customers. As the Corporate Director of Finance, my role is to expand the business operations of the company and spread its wings to increase our customer base and achieve the best returns for our shareholders. Even though my role is largely connected to the finance of the company, I also make sure that I am 100 percent involved in operations because finance is dependent on revenue. Hence, I also encourage my team to focus on revenue. My quench for learning pushes me to work with other department heads and learn the process. Like operations and warehousing have always attracted me with their mechanism to which I contribute and self-educated.
Going forward, what are the changes in market behavior that you anticipate, and what are the opportunities that you foresee?
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way people shop; as the world embraced social distancing, people turned to online shopping more than ever before. In my opinion, to be at par with the growing competition and grab the current opportunities, we have to focus on three significant aspects - one is facilitating the growth of the online business, the second is leveraging advanced technology and the third is ensuring smooth services to customers without interruption or failure.
Self-awareness And self-love Matters, who we Are is how we Lead
Self-awareness And self-love Matters, who we Are is how we Lead
Therefore, Al Ain Coop is focused on increasing the options for online shopping and developing the e-commerce platform of the company by leveraging advanced technologies. We are focusing on streamlining seamless operations and transactions, for which we have adapted the Cloud technology into our systems to avoid any kind of interruptions. Another technology that we are bringing into our operations is something known as Self-checkout. Furthermore, we are planning for many other technological advancements in our services to make shopping easy and hassle-free for our customers.
In light of your strong experience within the industry, what advice would you give to budding industry leaders?
Continuous changes are being made in the business world which includes developing new products, new techniques in production, new designs of products, and new ways of reaching potential customers. Hence, to be able to grow in this highly competitive and contemporary business world, one must know how to be the facilitator of modern innovation and modern commerce. They must know to navigate the future by understanding the world, their customers, their employees, and their competitors, as these aspects are crucial for staying ahead and developing businesses.
Rajesh Soares, Corporate Director of Finance, Al Ain Coop
Having a Bachelor’s of Commerce in Accounting & Auditing from the University of Mumbai and an M.com in Advanced Accounting from Sydenham College of Commerce & Economics in Mumbai, Rajesh has over 30 years of rich experience in finance & accounting, leveraging which, he, at Al Ain Coop is crafting financial strategies and efficiently managing accounting teams and other business operations to succeed in this modern business space.
•Favorite Cuisine: Indian
•Favorite Book: The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown
•Favorite Travel Destination: Seychelles
•Awards & Recognition: Recognized with the Toastmaster Award, Best Monitory Innovation Award, Best Hotelier Award, and many other Excellence Awards & Recognition