Jassem Ebrahim Al Shikar sacrificed high salaries in the private and public sectors before last year joining his father's oil and gas business.
After working in the financial services industry for 10 years and a short stint at Musanada, an Abu Dhabi Government entity, he took charge of the engineering division at Al Nasr Technical Trading Agencies, a supplier of oilfield and industrial equipment based in Abu Dhabi.
What he got in return was the sense of satisfaction that comes from managing one's own company and fixing it.
"I was given charge of the engineering department; it was in a mess," Mr Al Shikar, 35, recalls. "There was no [human resources] control, no documents. It was operating not even on paper."
Family businesses, such as Mr Al Shikar's, make up more than 90 per cent of enterprises in the Arabian Gulf, according to a Barclays report. While it was inevitable that he would come back to manage his family's business, the former banker says he is focused on the success of his own division and eventually the company.
"Most prominent Emirati family businesses tend to encourage their children to start their professional careers outside the ambit of the family institution," says Carine Souaiby, the head of corporate and commercial affairs at Habib Al Mulla, a law firm in Abu Dhabi.
The families expect them to gain experience in specific sectors, train in a more professional environment than the family business and grow their skills without relying on family assistance.
After graduating in 2001, Mr Al Shikar worked at HSBC as a business development officer and at Waha Capital, where he focused on heavy asset leasing, among other companies.
"I was exposed to dealing and coping with quick changes in an organisation in a limited amount of time," Mr Al Shikar says. It "added more tolerance to my system and taught me how to be more flexible".
When he joined his 65-year-old father's company, which started in 1975, the idea was to implement HR controls, assess staff and reward those who perform well.
"The recruitments were handled by an accounts person," he says, adding that the company employs 120 people, with 65 in the engineering division alone. The company now has an employee dedicated to recruitment, a department overseen by Mr Al Shikar.
The first thing he did when he took charge was to focus on the people who had to go.
"There was only one person that I fired because he was a problem-maker," he says. Some left of their own free will and new people were recruited.
The company's bottom line reflected his efforts.
It reported about Dh50 million (US$13.6m) in revenue and sales last year, a 300 per cent increase from before Mr Al Shikar came in.
While there are no studies to chart the success rate of people who return to family businesses after working in the private or public sectors, Ms Souaiby says they are assets.
"They will be well trained to deal with business matters while setting aside emotions - knowing that taking an emotion-free decision is one recurrent challenge occurring in a family business," she says.
But it can often be difficult for young Emiratis such as Mr Al Shikar to adjust to a different work environment.
"Those entering into the family business will often come up against resistance from employees that may have been with the company for 20 or more years only to find that the owner's son or daughter steps directly into a more senior position," says Ahmad Waarie, a managing consultant at Towers Watson, a human research consulting company in Dubai.
Moreover, compared with the private sector, there is additional responsibility, work pressure, family disagreements and longer working hours, he says.
While Mr Al Shikar did not have to deal with any family conflicts, he knows these are inevitable.
"Communication is the key," he says.
As the only son in his family, he knows he is under pressure to perform, while there are some who would like to see him fail.
"But many others want to see you grow, such as the staff and the family," Mr Al Shikar says. "I hope I am a good leader."