Off hours: RedTag chief ensures he’s on time for tee in Dubai

Ernest Hosking, 60, is chief executive of the fashion retailer RedTag. Born in South Africa, he trained as a chartered accountant before embarking on a career in fashion retail and investment banking. Mr Hosking moved to the UAE in 2004, when he joined BMA International, the holding company for RedTag, and is now based in Dubai.

What are your favourite things to do on the weekend?

After a busy week, I like to unwind with a game of golf. This is a busy time in fashion retail as we’re already planning ahead for the 2016 seasonal collections and this involves a lot of travel, so I often find myself preparing for important meetings during the weekend or catching up with my communication and keeping abreast of market indicators around GCC.

What do you consider to be your favourite hobby?

That would have to be golf. I’m incredibly lucky to live in a country that boasts some of the world’s top golf courses; my favourite being Emirates Golf Course, where the Omega Dubai Desert Classic takes place. I try to play even as the temperature rises over the summer as I find it both therapeutic and relaxing.

What can’t you live without?

The biggest gap in my life right now is having the family so dispersed around the world in South Africa and the UK.

What do you consider the secret to your success?

The retail business is a fast-paced, challenging and creative environment, and to operate at CEO level I adopt a simple formula of passion, dedication and motivation to be the best I can be. I also think success has many different characteristics and for me, the main element of success is to be a strong leader with traits such as honesty, empathy, humility and decisiveness. My leadership style is fundamentally influenced by my parents, who set an incredible example for me as I was growing up. This, in addition to the many strong colleagues I have had the pleasure of working with over the years. I am also inspired by the leadership style of the two joint group managing directors I had in my early days in fashion retail. They genuinely believed in investing in their people and walked the talk. Being South African, I find Nelson Mandela to be a particularly inspiring leader.

What advice would you offer others starting out in your business?

Identify your own personal goals early on and align them with the business that you’re operating within. Then believe in yourself and go for it. Try stuff – some will work out and others won’t but be prepared for that. Knowledge is power, and it is one’s personal responsibility to ensure one immerses oneself in the culture and climate of the particular industry – be it retail, hospitality, real estate and so on.

How do you achieve a work-life balance?

No day is ever the same in retail, especially when you work across as many markets as I do. This makes it interesting but also presents challenges in balancing work and life. I try to exercise before work to keep healthy and mentally sharp. I also have a very supportive wife who, it would be fair to say, is my biggest fan. I am passionate about what I do and motivated by the promises I make and the goals I set both on a personal and business level. However, for me work is my life, it’s my inspiration, as are the people I come into contact with each and every day across our RedTag network in the region. We set ourselves some ambitious long-term targets when we embarked on the RedTag journey and have achieved many milestones along the way. However, I am never satisfied that the job is done and so this is what drives me every morning – knowing there is still so much out there to achieve.

How do you relax after the working day?

I like to delve into the minds of great business leaders through books and articles, and I catch up with family on Skype when I can. There is also inevitably some work to do that wasn’t attended to during the day.

If you weren’t chief executive of this company, what else would you be doing?

I really enjoy mentoring and guiding young business people; I would like to spend my latter years coaching or lecturing on business strategy and leadership. If I had not been in fashion retail, I would love to have had a job in sport administration. If not that then perhaps a rock artist playing in a band.

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