Off hours: GlassQube co-founder is off the clock and on the hunt
Fahad Al Ahbabi is a co-founder of GlassQube, which provides co-working spaces and private offices. He has also held various senior roles with the Abu Dhabi Government, including his current role as the head of executive council affairs with the General Secretariat of Abu Dhabi Executive Council. He is the chairman of a group of companies that includes ACO Engineering and RK Legal Consultancy. The Emirati, 32, lives in Abu Dhabi with his family and is father of a four-year-old son and a daughter, three.
How do you spend your weekend?
I sometimes have some unavoidable meetings, but mainly I spend my weekends with my family, often in Al Ain where I play with my children at the park, take them to the zoo and spend time with the extended family.
How did you become a chief executive?
I initially worked with one or two experienced business executives and consultants, particularly during my early career in the government. Based on their encouragement, I decided to establish my own business; initially, it was small but over the years, I have invested more time and built each business and my role has grown to where I am today. GlassQube Coworking is the most recent example and was a result of working with my co-founder, Bernard Lee, to identify the market gap that exists in the serviced office business. We realised that business centres in the UAE were not providing the high level services and infrastructure demanded by an evolving market. For example, GlassQube is the first in the UAE to provide an actively managed business ecosystem that facilitates networking for its members, dedicated business development channels, and digital marketing services.
What is your go-to gadget?
My iPhone, as it allows me to always keep in touch. But with me, it’s more than the gadget, it’s the apps that customise my productive experience. For example, we are in the process of implementing Slack for communicating with the GlassQube members. It is a communications application that allows individuals and organisations to communicate internally in real time.
What was the lowest point of your career?
I don’t have a low point, but when you launch a start-up you worry about the things that are both in and out of your control, and for the unknowns. Bernard and I have spent many, many hours worrying about the things a typical start-up worries about, such as growth, customer retention, cash flows etc. There have also been many unexpected challenges as well as successes that make the start-up journey an exciting, yet stressful experience. Dealing with these experiences can be rewarding as well as emotionally taxing.
What advice would you offer others starting out in your business?
Be prepared for tough times, people doubting you and your own self-doubt. Also, choosing the right partner or team is critical. One of the most common reasons start-up businesses fail is because the partners fail to work well together. So spend extra time selecting the right partners and team and then have faith in them and the hard work and long hours you have all invested.
What is your most indulgent habit?
When not with my family, I love to spend my down time falcon hunting. Falconry has a long and deep history in the UAE and the region. It is a sport that requires incredible commitment and patience and is incredibly rewarding. Just as in building a business, raising a hunting falcon requires a passion for what you are doing along with an incredible amount of hard work. And just as in building a business, there are risks and rewards that are uncertain, but can be influenced by the amount of work you put in.
What do you have on your desk at work?
My PC, pictures of my children and my espresso machine.
What book are you currently reading?
Cubed: A Secret History of the Workspace. It is a fascinating account of the history of the post industrial revolution workforce and how divisions of labour, organisational theory and emerging technologies from the ink pen to the typewriter to the computer have manifested themselves in modern office space design, architecture and function.
How do you achieve a work-life balance?
It is not always possible. I’m quite strict about weekends in Al Ain with my family and I try to take overseas breaks when possible.
If you could swap jobs with anyone who would it be and why?
I’m happy with what I have and who I am and wouldn’t want to swap jobs with anyone else.
Updated: April 13, 2017 04:00 AM