Sam Malik, the owner of PR Professionals, a public relations agency, grew up under the strict supervision of her Pakistani parents in London. But after a rough patch in her married life, during which she went through a divorce, her father told her to go to Dubai in 2007 to fix herself. She did - and was working as a vice president at a property developer when the recession hit. Here, the 32-year-old entrepreneur talks about her financial journey.
How would you describe your financial journey so far?
I come from a secure financial background. But I always have been financially independent. I was financially independent since I was 16. I never wanted to hear from my father "I got this for you". By 18 years, I was packing my bags, going to Lahore, buying ethnic shoes from there and selling them three folds their price in London. At 20, I went on to work as a desktop publisher and a research analyst at banks and as a TV presenter at 21. In 2007, when I came to Dubai, I was financially secure and in 2008 and 2009 - after I stepped down from the job - I sustained myself through consultancy work. I also worked as a TV presenter for a fashion channel called Star 360. In 2010, I woke up with my right side paralysed. I could not move my limbs. I had to go to London for treatment. The condition is still undiagnosed. In January 2011, I came back to Dubai because I have a buzz for work. I started PR Professionals in 2010, right before I got sick, but 2011 gave a great start for my business. I invested Dh100,000 in setting up the office here. In the next three to five weeks, we will be five permanent people plus the freelance staff that work with us globally. I want to have a branch in Qatar.
Are you a spender or a saver?
I am sensible about spending, not unnecessarily spending as I did before. Business-wise, I am a [small to medium-sized business] and will continue to be so. That is because it gives you more control over spending. Personally, I am a saver. I invest in properties in Dubai and London. Any luxury in life is by invitations, for example, big dinners. Most of my wardrobe is sponsored by Mumbai Se and [designers] Anjalee and Arjun Kapoor besides others.
What is your philosophy regarding money?
Money is easy come, easy go. Respect and save for the rainy day. I invest in properties. These will retain your value. I saw a lot of friends being wiped out because of their flashy lifestyle.
Did you make any financial mistakes along the way?
I was very careful, and never lost money. But in 2007, I bought a property in Dubai. Its value is now halved, but I live there. So, that is OK. I have a few more properties in Dubai and prices of those are estimated to go up. The London ones are fine. I buy Armani shoes, but do not have massive credit-card debts.
Do you believe in planning for the future?
Absolutely. As a woman, I want to be able to give to my children and help my partner if I have a family. If you have an extra Dh10,000 or Dh20,000, tuck it away. Four to five years down the line, it will come in handy. Psychologically, it can bring you peace of mind and avoid health issues. It changes the personality as well.
Is money important to you?
In terms of driving me for business, yes. In terms of personal life, no, because that is not what makes us.
What is your idea of financial freedom?
It is good to have it. One less worry.
What do you enjoy spending on?
Hospitality and spas. I need to relax. And I invest in properties.