Off hours: Saleh bin Lajeh Group COO likes to broaden his horizons

Mohammed Al Delail is the chief operating officer at Saleh bin Lajeh Group, a diversified conglomerate in the UAE’s construction and hospitality sectors. An Emirati and the grandson of Saleh bin Lahej, founder of the group, Mr Al Delai, 28, is a graduate of HCT, Dubai Men’s College in e-business management. He started his career as marketing communication specialist at Tecom Investments and has also worked at twofour54, a media and entertainment hub in Abu Dhabi, as brand manager. In July 2011, Mr Al Delail joined the group his grandfather founded, starting as head of marketing and HR before becoming head of support services and later moving into his current role.

What are your favourite things to do on the weekend?

My hectic work schedule doesn’t allow me to spend as much time as I would like with my loved ones, so I capitalise my weekends by spending the lost time with family and friends. We tend to go out on road trips and discover new and interesting places in the UAE. But it’s the time spent with my loved ones that matters the most; I enjoy every bit of that regardless of where we are.

What do you consider to be your favourite hobby?

I love reading books, particularly the biographies of entrepreneurs. It is something I picked up in my earlier years and somehow it has grown into a habit and my hobby. Reading allows me to learn from other people’s experiences and their various thought processes. I love travelling too. Discovering new places and cultures, particularly places with a rich historical significance such as in Europe, is something that nourishes me. Travelling and reading encourages me to learn from new experiences and keeps my mind receptive to new ideas.

What can’t you live without?

I believe that the foundation of any human being is his/her family. I cherish the time spent with them and the best way to keep doing that is when one’s health is perfect. I believe the greatest gift you can give your family and the world is a healthy you. I do have a vice though, I love my coffee. So, family, health and my good old coffee it is.

What do you consider the secret to your success?

I persevere to get things done right, no matter how much time and effort is required. Adapting to new ideas, techniques and systems – and acquiring as much information as possible in my field, along with keeping an open mind to the ever-changing consumer behaviour and their approach to our industry – are some of the key aspects of me and my team’s success. I am also a strong believer in giving back to society and have implemented a charity wing of Saleh bin Lahej Group, which caters to children with special needs in the UAE.

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

Our industry is very dynamic and challenging at the same time. It is a sector that is always changing and therefore we have to adapt to newer things. The business is a flux in motion that never stops, and therefore I advise staying focused and true to your values, to never underestimate tomorrow and always rise to the challenge, no matter how difficult the road ahead is. Perseverance, dedication and an eye towards customer support is the key. Always keep the customers happy, for your growth depends on the customers’ positive experience.

How do you achieve a work-life balance?

It a task that I have yet to come to terms with. It is a never-ending tug of war. My work schedule dictates my time as we work round the clock, that’s the nature of our business. In between the hustle and bustle of my corporate life I make an effort to cherish moments and create as many memorable moments with my loved ones during any given day or time of the week.

How do you relax after the working day?

Seeing my two-year-old daughter when I come home washes all my tiredness away. I feel rejuvenated and it’s these precious moments with my daughter which make me whole. I look forward to these moments and a quiet evening at home as nourishment to tackle my workload the following day.

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

I don’t see myself in any other platform than what I am doing at the moment. I love what I do and the challenges I face. I enjoy solving and learning from the different challenges life throws at me through work. It is a platform where I feel that I am growing both as a person and as a COO. If not in the UAE, I would probably be doing the same thing in a different country.

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