Thoughts from Grosvenor Cap­i­tal founder Za­hara Ma­lik

CEO Middle East - - CON­TENTS -


On March 11 this year, the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion (WHO) deemed the Covid-19 as a global pan­demic which meant more than ever it is es­sen­tial to eval­u­ate both our so­ci­etal and our planet’s needs.

The global com­mu­nity have had to unite, learn lessons from each other and use this time to re­set and to look at ex­ist­ing frame­works for some clar­ity in­clud­ing the SDGs.

The 17 goals cu­rated by the UN in 2015, which in­cludes 169 as­so­ci­ated tar­gets, ad­dresses the com­plex needs of our global so­ci­ety from cli­mate change, ex­treme poverty, global ed­u­ca­tion and of course, health.

The ra­tio­nale of the SDGs is to place own­er­ship not only on gov­ern­ments, but also on the pri­vate sec­tor.

The UAE govern­ment, for ex­am­ple, has en­sured that the UN SDGs are in­cor­po­rated through­out their do­mes­tic pol­icy as well as fram­ing the global 2030 Agenda for Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment, plac­ing ed­u­ca­tion, en­vi­ron­ment and health­care at the fore­front.

Fur­ther­more, the UAE’s pri­vate sec­tor has played an im­pact on at­tain­ing SDGs; Emaar

Group was able to pro­mote re­spon­si­ble us­age of wa­ter re­sources via its wa­ter management pro­gramme launched in 2016. Emaar aims to ob­tain a 20% re­duc­tion in wa­ter con­sump­tion by 2021.

Last­ing im­pact

It is un­de­ni­able the last­ing im­pact that Covid-19 will have across the world, it is there­fore im­per­a­tive for all global play­ers to re­main fo­cused on achiev­ing the 17 SDGs, as the need to over­come our en­vi­ron­men­tal chal­lenges, to in­vest in our ed­u­ca­tion and to ad­dress our over­all global needs will not

van­ish nor di­min­ish. Expo 2020 will be a driver and plat­form to re­in­force the global ini­tia­tive to achieve the SDGs.

One of its key pil­lars is fo­cused on sus­tain­abil­ity and the need to use re­sources with­out com­pro­mis­ing the abil­ity of the planet to sus­tain fu­ture gen­er­a­tions, and per­haps to draw on our lessons from today to en­sure we are some­what pre­pared go­ing for­ward.

Our pri­or­ity must be to in­spire and en­able the new di­a­logue for re­form − how do we ac­tu­ally build the global and uni­fied sys­tem that can de­liver on the as­pi­ra­tion of the UN SDGs.

Goal 3 clearly refers to health: “to en­sure healthy lives and pro­mote well-be­ing for all at all ages” and more rel­e­vantly “fight­ing com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­eases and epi­demics; and pre­vent­ing and treat­ing non-com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­eases.”


For many SDGs were seen to be ex­tremely am­bi­tious to achieve by 2030, but what it has ac­com­plished to date is rapid in­vest­ments and ef­forts to­wards the con­trol and ul­ti­mately the elim­i­na­tion of the im­pact that epi­demics and pan­demics have to lives and liveli­hoods.

For ex­am­ple the Bill and Melinda Gates Foun­da­tion com­mit­ted $100 mil­lion to fight­ing Covid-19, as a part of its broader ef­forts in global health.

“Mul­ti­lat­eral Or­ga­ni­za­tions, na­tional gov­ern­ments, the pri­vate sec­tor and phi­lan­thropies must work to­gether to slow the pace of the out­break, help coun­tries pro­tect their most vul­ner­a­ble cit­i­zens and ac­cel­er­ate the de­vel­op­ment of the tools to bring this epi­demic un­der con­trol,” Gates Foun­da­tion CEO, Mark Suz­man said.

“Our hope is that these re­sources will help catal­yse a rapid and ef­fec­tive in­ter­na­tional re­sponse. This re­sponse should be guided by sci­ence, not fear and it should build on the next steps that the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion has taken to date,” he added.


Now more than ever the SDGs has re­in­forced how crit­i­cal it is to have en­gage­ment of all sectors and in­dus­tries, an ap­proach that has been no­tice­ably lack­ing in many ar­eas in­clud­ing global pub­lic health.

As a global com­mu­nity our long-term vision has to be aligned and not for­got­ten, in the midst of the shock of Q1 2020 cou­pled with it be­ing a sig­nif­i­cant decade we must re­main fully ded­i­cated to achiev­ing our 2030 goals.

Gov­ern­ments, business lead­ers, SMEs are un­der­stand­ably fo­cused on our here and now, but we must re­in­force the need to make sig­nif­i­cant and con­crete progress to­wards the SDGs. As stated by Pro­fes­sor David Harper, “We have to deal with health in the broad­est sense, and many of the driv­ers are out­side the health sec­tor, in­clud­ing those for ex­am­ple in the fi­nan­cial, ed­u­ca­tion, en­ergy and en­vi­ron­ment sectors.”

He goes on to say, “when the world ex­pe­ri­ences a health emer­gency, the diplo­matic en­ergy in the global sys­tem in­creases, and an op­por­tu­nity for ma­jor re­form is cre­ated”.

As we close Q1 of 2020 our global call to ac­tion should be to per­se­vere through the tur­bu­lence of the new decade and as Aaron Cramer, Pres­i­dent and CEO of Business for Social Re­spon­si­bil­ity aptly sum-ups, “it is es­sen­tial that we re­mem­ber the central im­por­tance of stay­ing com­mit­ted to our long-term goals, while ad­just­ing to an al­tered re­al­ity that has much to teach us when we in­evitably emerge from this cri­sis.”

Sol­i­dar­ity is the key to de­feat­ing Covid-19 and we must con­tinue to stay com­mit­ted to our peo­ple and our planet through­out our tri­als and tribu­la­tions.

What’s the con­cept be­hind Yoga CEO?

Yoga CEO is the lat­est evo­lu­tion of my first start-up, Yogin­fin­ity. The orig­i­nal idea was to make yoga and meditation more ac­ces­si­ble to the whole pop­u­la­tion. But in re­cent years I re­alised that I could have an im­pact on a big­ger scale, fo­cus­ing on yoga and meditation for lead­ers, due the con­tin­ued un­cer­tainty and stress lev­els that they ex­pe­ri­ence in con­tin­ued chang­ing en­vi­ron­ments. When lead­ers man­age their stress ex­cep­tion­ally, they have a pos­i­tive im­pact on their teams.

When did you launch the business?

I started teach­ing pri­vate yoga classes in

2014, dur­ing a tran­si­tion pe­riod af­ter my last cor­po­rate job at Nokia, as a way to share my knowl­edge with others while keep­ing my­self ac­tive phys­i­cally and men­tally while looking for a job. I then de­cided to work si­mul­ta­ne­ously in build­ing my first yoga start-up, which I launched in 2016. It has been evolv­ing since then, adapt­ing to mar­ket changes and is cur­rently pro­moted un­der the cur­rent con­cept of ‘Yoga CEO’.

Your clients are CEOs and lead­ers; why does your business fo­cus on this seg­ment par­tic­u­larly and how does your of­fer­ing align to meet the needs of it?

Hav­ing worked as se­nior mar­keter and en­tre­pre­neur for more than 15 years, I know the chal­lenges of work­ing un­der enor­mous pres­sure and hav­ing high lev­els of un­cer­tainty. At the same time you still need to be pro­duc­tive, fo­cused on mo­ti­vat­ing others and cre­ative in find­ing so­lu­tions to new prob­lems. I have ex­pe­ri­enced the same dif­fi­cul­ties in my pro­fes­sional ca­reer, so along­side be­ing a cer­ti­fied yoga in­struc­tor I am able to of­fer prac­ti­cal applicatio­ns on how yoga can help those in lead­er­ship po­si­tions. To date, I have taught more than 6,000 hours, to all kinds of dif­fer­ent peo­ple from all kinds of back­grounds. My of­fer­ing in­cludes flex­i­bil­ity in times, which is some­thing that lead­ers need most of the time.

Busy lead­ers can jump into a yoga class, any­time, from any part of the world.

On­line fit­ness is one of few to per­haps ex­pe­ri­ence a boom at the mo­ment, but what are some of the ben­e­fits, aside from social dis­tanc­ing dur­ing a pan­demic, of tun­ing in to a vir­tual yoga or meditation ses­sion?

The vir­tual ses­sion gives you the com­fort and pri­vacy of do­ing it from your own of­fice, home or ho­tel room. Imag­ine hav­ing a yoga/ meditation cor­ner at your of­fice, and just tun­ing in for a 30 min­utes ses­sion, any­time you need it. You don’t even need to dress up, and meditation classes can be done sit­ting in a chair, in nor­mal clothes. Cre­at­ing a ‘calm’ space that you can ac­cess when­ever you are stressed gives you safety, and that can’t be achieved in a nor­mal stu­dio, where you have to drive in and join a class at a spe­cific time and with more peo­ple. That does not work for lead­ers, who need more flex­i­bil­ity due to the na­ture of their work. Also, if you cre­ate such space at your home or of­fice, this al­lows you to start build­ing up a men­tal mind-set con­nected to the practice, as you’ll be able to ac­cess that calmed es­tate of mind just by

be­ing in that sur­round­ing, whether you are do­ing the class or not.

Is the business ex­clu­sively vir­tual or is it a mix be­tween a stu­dio and on­line?

It is a mix: while some lead­ers pre­fer the face to face classes, some others can’t do phys­i­cal classes due to the work­ing hours, change in meet­ings or trav­el­ling. That was one of my main ob­jec­tives: of­fer the flex­i­bil­ity they need, so the class is not an­other stress in their al­ready packed agen­das.

As a yoga expert, what are some of the ben­e­fits of yoga and for lead­ers? Con­tin­u­ous high lev­els of stress in­creases the cor­ti­sol in our body, which has a neg­a­tive im­pact on our body and puts our brain into fight or flight mode, with lit­tle space for a more strate­gic type of think­ing.

With yoga and meditation we lower the cor­ti­sol lev­els, and there­fore are able to come up with more cre­ative so­lu­tions, as well as boosting our im­mu­nity. Yoga and meditation also in­crease fo­cus, con­cen­tra­tion and lat­eral think­ing, cru­cial for mo­ments of un­cer­tainty and cri­sis. Not to men­tion also the emo­tional ben­e­fit: they also al­low us to boost our com­pas­sion lev­els, which is one of the lat­est trends for the lead­ers of the fu­ture: mind­ful lead­er­ship.


MIND­FUL LEAD­ER­SHIP Ste­fa­nia Brunori is launch­ing an on­line ver­sion of her yoga pro­gram for lead­ers.

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