Médéric Payne is the chief executive of the home furnishings retailer Home Centre, which has 17 stores in the UAE and 85 across the GCC, Egypt, Lebanon and India. He is a national of Britain and France and has more than 17 years of experience in retail. The Dubai resident, 42, moved to the UAE to take up the Home Centre post two years ago and is a father of three – twin nine-year-old boys and another son, who is six.
How do you spend your weekend?
I spend most of it with my family, particularly my young children and our family pet dog. I enjoy helping them to learn and discover new activities, so I play Lego with my sons or help them their homework. I also try to balance with a little sport to keep my body and mind fit and I enjoy listening to music and watching films. For music, I enjoy classic and rock music, from Vivaldi to Pink Floyd; James Blunt is my favourite. For films, it’s historical dramas, war films such as Fury or comedies such as The Intern.
How did you become a chief executive?
It’s a combination of delivering constant results in challenging retail environments with successfully accepting tough challenges from great business leaders that have pushed and seen potential in me to excel. This led to me being promoted from the shop floor to the boardroom. I also gave myself ambitious goals from a young age and remained focused on that objective. But more importantly, being a strong leader is to me the greatest personal goal.
What is your go-to gadget?
For a long while it was my BlackBerry, which regrettably I have had to give up. I am now trying to get to grips with a new Android smartphone but I’m finding it less productive and too “gadgety”. I am a fan of technology that can help further connections but my biggest frustration is technology that isn’t efficient.
What was the lowest point of your career?
It was as a young store manager in 1998, experiencing my then employer badly handle staff redundancies, seeing people suffer and being left to manage through the chaos and emotional distress within a mega trading store environment. In retrospect, this experience shaped my attitude towards employees and taught me to treat them with respect, whatever the situation. This left a mark and was a great managerial lesson.
What advice would you offer others starting out in your business?
Be clear about what your strengths are and then be brave, take calculated risks and ask for help. You must constantly make yourself relevant to your customers and colleagues to develop your knowledge and abilities. While it’s important to rely on your beliefs and goals, also show commitment in your behaviour – actions will speak louder than words.
What is your most indulgent habit?
Daily cups of a well-brewed rich breakfast tea with real milk and a little sugar. Although every so often, the French in me truly believes a gastronomic meal is essential to tasting life.
What do you have on your desk at work?
A small model shopping trolley holding my business cards, a calculator and my Macbook Pro laptop.
What can’t you live without?
My wife and good, regular healthy sleep.
What car do you drive?
A seven-seater Land Rover Supercharged LR4, as I can get all the family and my dog in the car and still have real fun driving.
How do you achieve a work-life balance?
A business coach once showed me the benefit of listening to your body, which too many business people fail to do. If you feel and listen carefully to your body, you will realise how to balance your life properly and then act. Now, as I get older, it is even more important to make time for myself. For example, a weekly lesson of Pilates helps me stay in shape and it is tough, particularly, as I love my food.
If you could swap jobs with anyone, who would it be?
I would not want to swap my job with anybody. Seeing people around me develop, succeed and working together to achieve results is what motivates me. Furthermore, I feel privileged to have had an international retail career and to see other cultures, travel and understand consumer behaviour. However, if I had to, it would be to produce or manufacture something in an environmental agricultural business and leave a legacy for my children.
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