Alan Robertson is the chief executive for the property broker JLL in the Mena region. Mr Robertson, 55, who is from Scotland, has lived in Dubai with his wife for nearly four years and has two children: a son, who works for JLL back home in Edinburgh and a daughter who lives in Dubai and works in PR with Four Communications.
What are your favourite things to do on the weekend?
A weekend in Dubai will typically include a game of golf at the Montgomerie, a visit to the gym or perhaps a cycle ride, watching sport on the telly, and a night or two out. Occasionally I take part in sporting challenges – recently it was the Standard Chartered 10km road race and before that I completed the JLL Triathlon, which was the third race of a series that we sponsor. We also like to explore the wider region over long weekends, but unfortunately haven’t managed to do that as often as we would like.
What do you consider to be your favourite hobby?
Since my early teens I have been a keen skier and for several years I competed in races in Scotland and across Europe. While I still love skiing (especially ski touring) I am quite limited in what I can do from Dubai, so I would have to say that golf is almost at the point of edging ahead as my favourite hobby.
What can’t you live without?
I’m not really a gadget person, but would be lost without my iPad.
What do you consider the secret to your success?
There are lots of different ways to succeed. I have always thought the key steps include always putting the client first, gaining a reputation for being totally reliable, being a team player and showing energy, enthusiasm and determination at all times.
What advice would you offer others starting out in your business?
Work and study hard to become a true expert in their field. When I started out as a young office agent my boss advised me to learn the details of every single building in the market and when I mastered that, I found that my career took off quite quickly. In our business there are lots of people who talk a great game but who clearly lack true professional expertise, and that soon becomes obvious to the people who matter.
How do you achieve a work-life balance?
I’m not sure that I always do, but most of the time I find myself able to switch off after a long working day – I rarely find it difficult to sleep at night. I think the key is to have an active life outside work so that you have lots of other things to do or think about, and your mind does not always revert to work mode.
How do you relax after the working day?
I would like to say that I do something exciting, or at least go to the gym or hit a few golf balls, but all too often it’s collapsing in front of the telly with a refreshing drink and a nice dinner.
If you weren’t chief executive of this company, what else would you be doing?
I have been enormously lucky, having spent 28 years with JLL in a number of really satisfying roles and based in three wonderful cities – Dubai, Istanbul and Edinburgh. As a real estate adviser I have had the privilege of advising on some really important projects which have given me a great variety of work and a huge amount of professional satisfaction. Since moving to more of a leadership role I have discovered a whole new range of activities and hopefully developed a few new skills. As a boss, I have enjoyed helping my colleagues achieve their potential as real estate professionals. There has never been a dull moment and I can truthfully say that I have never been tempted to do anything else. When I decide that it is time to move on it will be back home to Scotland where I plan to spend a lot more time on the ski slopes, walking up mountains and on the golf courses. I will also spend more time playing the bagpipes, which is something I really enjoy but haven’t been able to do much in my apartment in Dubai.