Wednesday, April 28, 2010


It has long been a paradox that many people who hail from small, tiny villages usually end up creating a big name for themselves at the national as well as international level. Commitment and hard work coupled with an insatiable zest to reach the zenith of success set them apart from their urban counterparts and pave the way for their accomplishments.


Though not every high flyer has his roots in a village, here is a true community achiever who has risen from a simple family in idyllic village miles away from Mangalore to become a role model for up-and-coming youngsters who aspire to become top executives of big firms.

We had an opportunity to exchange a few words with Mr. Sudhir Shetty, The COO of UAE Exchange. This meeting helped us broaden our viewpoint on the Indian business community settled in UAE, and their contribution in the growth of the country.

Q. How did UAE Exchange take birth?
Mr. Sudhir Shetty: UAE Exchange is a need based industry. When people were flying away from their home countries and were settling here, they needed to send money back to their families. This service was provided to them by the banks in Dubai which used to close down at 2:00 pm
As the timings of the banks clashed with those of the working timings, people desperately needed an exchange service provider. This is how UAE Exchange was born in the capital of the UAE, Abu Dhabi, in 1980.

Q: What made you think UAE could be your second home?
Mr. Sudhir Shetty: I had no plans of coming here until I met our CEO Mr BR Shetty, who offered me a job in Abu Dhabi in his company. Accepting the interesting offer of an internal auditor's job in the NMC Group, I never looked back. From being the group's internal auditor, I found myself at the helm of affairs of UAE Exchange in 1991, after the sudden demise of the then UAE Exchange chief.

Q: What has been your business strategy?
Mr. Sudhir Shetty: If you want to expand reach, you have to go to the customers rather than they come to you. This is the reason why we have opened up various branches across the country and also across the world. We realized that there weren't nearly enough branches in there, so we made it our goal to expand. Also, the tourists coming from outside the country needed to send or collect money from the exchange, hence the branches in shopping malls. The priority of UAE Exchange is to spread its network, to provide standardization of customer satisfaction in various branches across the world, and also provide quality services to its customers in terms of technology and workforce.

Q: How do you manage the branches?
Mr. Sudhir Shetty: The policy of UAE Exchange is that they should provide same customer satisfaction in all branches, that is, to have the standardization of quality. This can be very difficult to manage as it is very important to understand the rules and regulations of the country and adapt to the situations. Culture of the region might be different but the culture of the company should be the same.

Q: What according to you is the most important aspect to make a customer happy?
Mr. Sudhir Shetty: The key to make a customer happy is to make the employees happy first. Charity begins at home and if we keep our employees satisfied they will work happily for the company. According to the UAE Exchange policy every employee working with us in any post is entitled to get accommodation, transportation and health facilities along with the salary.  Our first employee, who joined in 23rd October 1980, is still working with us.
Q: Do you miss India, your home country?
Mr. Sudhir Shetty: Geographical distance does not matter today. Even though we are away from India, culturally we are still very close. Our hearts will always be with our home country but in terms of security and social life UAE is also same as India, if not better. In everything we do an element of sacrifice is always present. Even though we are away from India we try to contribute and try to serve her as much as possible.

Q: Do you have any message for the people?

Mr. Sudhir Shetty: Contentment is an individual make up. Always aim high then you will move forward.

To the entrepreneurs, there is no shortcut for success, you have to continuously work hard and be mentally strong to face anything. There should always be a balance between good and bad and the business should be conducted with ethics. If you maintain ethics it will take you far. Quality of the people will determine the success of the organization.Opportunities do not come to you; you need to create them for yourself. When your heart is clean and intentions clear you will march forward.

To the students, education will only defend you; it does not build the career. Ethics, hard work and perseverance build the career. Indian entrepreneurs should work harder because when we are rewarded both our country and community are rewarded. Hence, we all are ambassadors of our country in a foreign land.



Article by Deepa Narwani and Nafisa Zaki

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