Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 July 2019

Money & Me: NMC Health COO finds nobility in working hard

He may be the chief operating officer of NMC Health, but American Michael Davis started out mowing lawns in his local neighbourhood for US$2 to $5 an hour.
Michael Davis prefers financial advisers to manage his money. Delores Johnson / The National
Michael Davis prefers financial advisers to manage his money. Delores Johnson / The National

Michael Davis is the chief operating officer of NMC Health private hospital chain. It bought ProVita International Medical Center, a specialist long-term and rehabilitative care provider – of which he was chief executive – in 2015. The American, 53, previously worked in large US hospitals and came to Abu Dhabi five years ago.

How did your upbringing shape your attitude towards money?

I was raised in Louisiana: my father worked in an oil refinery and my mother was a school secretary. Growing up, I knew my parents were cautious with money, but I never felt that funds were tight. My father worked overtime to make sure my brother, sister and I had a good education, but we didn’t take big vacations or eat out a lot. My father is a firm believer that it is noble to work hard and the idea has stayed with me.

How much did you get paid for your first job?

I mowed lawns in my neighbourhood when I was young and I was paid US$2 -$5 per lawn. Summers were hot and humid, so I worked hard for that money. In my first job out of college, as a nurse, I made around $12 per hour. Now I know how little people are paid in other parts of the world, I realise just how great a wage it was for a 23-year-old.

Are you a spender or saver?

A bit of both. My philosophy is don’t touch your savings – but everything else is fair game.

What is your most cherished purchase?

I recently helped my mother buy a new Ford SUV. My parents have been so supportive that I wanted to do something for them. It’s comforting to know that between my brother, sister and myself, my parents won’t have to worry about money in their old age.

Have you ever had a month where you feared you could not pay the bills?

When I was young I never worried about tomorrow; it was always about having fun today. I lived in Houston, Texas, in the late ‘80s and was always on vacation or having a party. It was fun and carefree, but I learnt many lessons. I wasn’t truly financially secure until my thirties.

Where do you save?

I have others who manage my money for me. In the US, I use JP Morgan Chase’s private client service and, here in the UAE, I have an American financial adviser who uses two platforms for me: eTrade and Interactive Brokers. We invest in a diversified portfolio of domestic and international mutual funds.

Do you prefer paying by credit card or in cash?

Always credit cards – I am obsessive about collecting airline miles.

What has been your best investment?

Investing in my own travel and hosting visitors from home and giving them the VIP treatment. Travel truly does cure prejudice. I also bought NMC stock after NMC acquired ProVita, which has proven a good investment.

What do you most regret spending money on?

After the close of the ProVita sale, I bought an expensive watch that I didn’t really need. Let’s just say the watch cost more than a nice car.

What financial advice would you offer your younger self?

Continue to have fun, but put yourself on a budget. Don’t deny yourself the joy of youth, but try to set more aside.

If you won Dh1 million, what would you do with it?

If I really want something for myself I can usually find a way to get it. So if I won Dh1m, I would probably give it to my fin­ancial adviser and see if he can turn it into Dh2m.

What would you raid your savings account for?

If anyone close to me had a health crisis and could not afford treatment, I would definitely raid my savings. And maybe I’ll raid it in a few years for an apartment in London or a place on the Spanish coast.


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Updated: June 23, 2017 04:00 AM