We speak to Sport­sOne busi­ness head Shivam Goyal about his rise up the ca­reer lad­der. In the form of the 10 prin­ci­ples he lives his life by, he shares his tips for suc­cess.

Friday - - Contents - By Shiva Ku­mar Thekkepat

Start with a dream: rule num­ber one for busi­ness suc­cess from Sports One’s Shivam Goyal.

“I al­ways put my best foot for­ward and make sure I’m do­ing a bet­ter job than ev­ery­body else’


Start with a dream

”I’d ad­vise all budding en­trepreneurs to start with your heart,” says Shivam. He did and to­day, at 39, he’s spear­head­ing Sports One, his sec­ond start-up for the Land­mark Group. “You should have a dream, or you’ll never get any­where. Of course, ev­ery­one has a dream. But to be an en­tre­pre­neur you need to have a real­is­tic dream.”

When Shivam men­tors an en­tre­pre­neur he looks for a blue­print or a busi­ness plan drawn up “with the con­vic­tion to be suc­cess­ful”. He adds, “It should be a tan­gi­ble project re­port that can be ex­e­cuted.”

Shivam had a dream, too, when he was a stu­dent in Ajmer in the western In­dian state of Ra­jasthan in the early 1990s – and that was to make his mark on the world as an en­tre­pre­neur.

“I was not a very bright stu­dent,” he con­fesses. “In In­dia, typ­i­cally, par­ents pre­fer their chil­dren to be aca­dem­i­cally in­clined. That be­comes the cri­te­rion for de­ter­min­ing how good the child is..., which is un­for­tu­nate as there are many chil­dren who may not be good in aca­demics but may still go on to make their mark on the world.

“My par­ents – Sushma and Man­mo­han Goyal – were suc­cess­ful doc­tors and wanted me to ex­cel as a stu­dent. But when my fa­ther re­alised that I would never be top of my class, he gave me a piece of ad­vice that has re­mained with me. He said, ‘Don’t shy away from do­ing your job and re­mem­ber all jobs have dig­nity. If you be­come a jan­i­tor, make sure that no one wipes the floor bet­ter than you do. Be the best in your cho­sen field.’ I al­ways put my best foot for­ward and make sure I’m do­ing a bet­ter job than ev­ery­body else.”


Work smart

Shivam learnt this les­son early. “I was and am prac­ti­cal­minded,” he says. “While at school, I would stay back af­ter classes and ask the teach­ers which the im­por­tant lessons to con­cen­trate on were. This helped a great deal be­cause I could use their tips to pre­pare bet­ter for ex­ams. I also used to be very friendly with the se­niors who’d help me if I had any doubts in lessons. The point I’d like to stress is that it’s more im­por­tant to work smart than to work hard.”

There were other lessons from out­side the class­room: “I grew up in Beawar, a small town near Ajmer,” says Shivam. “Be­cause there were no proper schools there, my par­ents en­rolled me in one that was about 70km away. I had to get up at 5am to take the bus to school and would spend four hours on the road ev­ery day be­cause trans­porta­tion and roads were bad.” On these road trips he learnt about life. “The ex­pe­ri­ences of in­ter­act­ing with a va­ri­ety of people who were trav­el­ling on the bus helped me learn a lot about life. I picked up what was hap­pen­ing around me, how people re­acted to sit­u­a­tions.”

Those early ex­pe­ri­ences, he says, taught him to be self-con­fi­dent and a go-get­ter, with the re­sult that he was pop­u­lar at school and col­lege, and a star crick­eter as well.

Even be­fore he re­ceived his masters de­gree in Busi­ness Ad­min­is­tra­tion from Jaipur Univer­sity, Shivam bagged a job of­fer at a cam­pus in­ter­view. He de­clined, de­ter­mined to make his for­tune in Dubai, a place that had caught his fancy when, at the age of 11, he’d hol­i­dayed with his fam­ily.

Ar­riv­ing in Dubai in 1997, he quickly landed a job. “In fact, I got four job of­fers within 20 days of my ar­rival,” says Shivam. Af­ter weigh­ing his op­tions he de­cided to get into elec­tron­ics be­cause “that ap­peared to be the way the world was mov­ing. People were be­gin­ning to de­pend on elec­tron­ics for their ev­ery­day chores, and that de­pen­dence was only go­ing to in­crease, spell­ing a boom for the sec­tor,” he says.

Shivam joined Jacky’s Elec­tron­ics as a man­age­ment trainee and grad­u­ally moved up the lad­der over the next seven years. “I had never worked in re­tail sales be­fore, but I took that op­por­tu­nity as a chal­lenge.”

‘The dream might be yours, but you need a team to deliver it, so you have to build a good one’

3 Work on your fun­da­men­tals

Shivam is a stick­ler for get­ting the ba­sics right. “Right from my child­hood, I cul­ti­vated a habit of start­ing from scratch. I’d work on the fun­da­men­tals and make them sound be­fore mov­ing on,” he says. In his stu­dent days, for in­stance, he worked dou­bly hard mas­ter­ing the ba­sics by opt­ing for ex­tra classes in some sub­jects.

He then ap­plied the same ap­proach to his pro­fes­sional life. “When I started at Jacky’s, I knew re­tail re­quired a lot of fo­cus. The re­tailer had made a name for it­self, but was be­ing threat­ened by new en­trants. My ob­jec­tive was to get the ba­sics right and carve a niche for Jacky’s once again and take the brand through.”

Shivam made it a point to meet each per­son in the 110-mem­ber team and get to know them on a first-name ba­sis. “The idea was to know our strengths and weak­nesses, and where we had to im­prove, be­fore putting plans into place,” he says. “I am proud to say that af­ter three years there I man­aged to get the mar­ket share that Jacky’s wanted.”

His suc­cess at Jacky’s paid div­i­dends: Land­mark boss Mickey Jag­tiani cher­ryp­icked him to launch an elec­tron­ics di­vi­sion for his group.

4 Team­work is vi­tal

“The dream might be yours, but you need a team to deliver it, and you have to build a team good enough to do that along with you,” says Shivam. “I see my job as build­ing the right team, and trans­lat­ing my dream to them.”

Re­cruit­ment and se­lec­tion of the team is some­thing Shivam does not del­e­gate to oth­ers. “I re­cruit my team, whether it is the floor staff or of­fice staff,” he says. “I work hard to de­velop them. I have a strong hu­man re­sources depart­ment that helps me with that. At the end of the day, even if you have the best con­cept, if you don’t have the right people, it won’t suc­ceed.”

5 Dream big…

Shivam says he learnt an im­por­tant les­son from his Land­mark boss Mickey: It is not enough just to dream, you have to dream big to score big. “Mickey had a very dif­fer­ent vi­sion of Emax [the brand Shivam was to work on],” he re­calls. “One of the first things Mickey told me af­ter tak­ing me on was that he wanted me to de­velop a re­tail con­cept that would be the largest in this part of the world. I was think­ing a 25,000 sq ft store. ‘Oh no,’ he said. ‘I’m think­ing a 150,000 sq ft store’.”

Ini­tially, Shivam didn’t think it would be pos­si­ble. “I said I doubted if it’d pay off in this mar­ket. But Mickey just smiled and sent me to Saudi Ara­bia where Land­mark Group has a big pres­ence. He wanted me to study some of the re­tail stores there and I was sur­prised to see how big they were. Next he sent me to Ger­many to study the mar­ket. There, too, I was amazed by some of the re­tail elec­tronic stores, which were around 100,000 sq ft over seven lev­els, all cat­e­gories rep­re­sented – the big­gest range of all top brands un­der one roof! And I found the cus­tomers were shop­ping like crazy. So I learnt to think big.”

6 …and lay the right foun­da­tions

But the last les­son was not just about set­ting up a 150,000 sq ft store for Emax. “We had to cre­ate the in­fra­struc­ture to sup­port it so the store would live up to its size,” says Shivam. “I worked on the plan for two years, be­fore we were ready to launch with the store on King Faisal Street in Shar­jah. And it was so suc­cess­ful there’s been no look­ing back for Emax. It is still one of the best-per­form­ing elec­tronic stores in the UAE.”

Once Emax was up and run­ning, Shivam was off too – this time for a short stint of one-and-a-half years with sports re­tailer Sun and Sand Sports as its gen­eral man­ager, be­fore re­turn­ing to Emax. So when the Land­mark Group wanted to launch a sport­ing goods line two years later, they had their man.

“Mickey selected me to work on the Sport­sOne con­cept,” he says. So it was back to ba­sics again for Shivam. A lot of re­search went into the project.

“We found that sport­ing goods re­tail­ing is an in­dus­try that was un­der­rep­re­sented in this re­gion,” he says. “At Land­mark, when we are de­vel­op­ing a new busi­ness we do not look at just Dubai or the UAE as a mar­ket, we look at the en­tire re­gion. The big­gest mar­ket we study is Saudi Ara­bia be­cause a lot of Land­mark’s growth has come out of that coun­try.”

An­other de­mo­graphic seg­ment Land­mark takes care to fo­cus on is women. “All said and done, a lot of pur­chas­ing de­ci­sions are driven by women, if not taken by them. Women are one of the dom­i­nat­ing forces where our mar­ket strat­egy is con­cerned and we base many of our stud­ies on women cus­tomers as well. That’s why all our stores have a very big sec­tion for women and kids.

“At Sport­sOne, too, we have fo­cused on women. There’s a per­cep­tion that sports is a very male-ori­ented sec­tor. A lot of sport­ing goods re­tail­ers in the re­gion have ig­nored women and chil­dren. But it is a big mar­ket. Fifty per cent of the mar­ket is women and chil­dren. So, we’ve fo­cused a lot on women, and we seem to have done the right thing, as we are do­ing very well.”

Sport­sOne was launched in De­cem­ber 2012 with two stores, one in Riyadh and the other in Dam­mam, Saudi Ara­bia. The UAE pres­ence came later with two stores in Abu Dhabi and one in Dubai. “We plan to open around 40 stores in the next two years,” he says. Shivam also re­searched the

‘Don’t feel shy to ad­mit to your team you made a mis­take. That’s the true hall­mark of a leader’

lo­ca­tion be­fore set­ting up shop at the Al Ghu­rair Cen­tre in Deira. “Deira at­tracts a lot of good shop­ping crowds and Al Ghu­rair Cen­tre gets a lot of foot­fall from Emi­ratis,” he says. “This store has been set up keep­ing them in mind, and it has done very well.”

He sees a huge ex­plo­sion of in­ter­est in golf in the re­gion and that, too, is part of the rea­son for the lo­ca­tion of the store. “There are a lot of Ja­panese and Korean res­i­dents in Al Ghu­rair, who play a lot of golf,” he adds.

7 In­tegrity mat­ters

From his ex­pe­ri­ence as a suc­cess­ful en­tre­pre­neur, Shivam has this in­sight to share with prospec­tive busi­ness­peo­ple: “What­ever you do, do it with in­tegrity.” He adds, “Don’t do things just to earn brownie points for yourself. What you do has to ben­e­fit not only for yourself, but also the people who de­pend on you – whether it is the em­ployer, your staff, share­hold­ers and in­vestors. You have to lav­ish the same love and care on your project as you would on your child.

“Hon­esty is very im­por­tant. You may make mis­takes, and you need to ac­cept them and make amends. Don’t feel shy to raise your hand and ad­mit to your team that you made a mis­take. That’s the true hall­mark of a leader.”

Shivam ad­mits that he’s made his share of mis­takes. “But I make a con­scious ef­fort not to re­peat them – whether it’s my own mis­takes or the ones I’ve ob­served oth­ers make.”

8 Open-ear pol­icy

“To be suc­cess­ful you have to be a good lis­tener,” says Shivam. “Have an open-ear pol­icy. Some­times the best sug­ges­tions can come from the rookie on the team. Be open to feed­back.” And it’s not just staff he lis­tens to – to Shivam the cus­tomer is king. “They can give you the most valu­able feed­back. Lis­ten to them as well,” he ad­vises.

He’s not shy of ap­proach­ing his se­niors for ad­vice. “The Land­mark Group is filled with vet­eran re­tail­ers,” he says. “If I go to them for a piece of ad­vice, they’ll give me 10 vi­tal pieces.”

Shivam also al­ways keeps an eye open for move­ment in the mar­ket. “The world is al­ways evolv­ing. In my field, ev­ery month some­thing new comes up, whether it’s a new brand or new tech­nol­ogy or a new in­no­va­tion in re­tail. You have to keep in­ject­ing new­ness into your busi­ness. In­no­va­tion is the key to suc­cess.”

For Shivam, it’s not a num­bers game at the end of the day. “It’s about de­liv­er­ing the right model to the cus­tomers,” he says. “I am not aim­ing for a num­ber one or num­ber two spot. My ob­jec­tive is to serve the max­i­mum num­ber of cus­tomers in the re­gion. If I am able to achieve that, the num­bers will au­to­mat­i­cally fol­low.”

9 Look out for your team

For Shivam, it is im­por­tant to be self­less where busi­ness is con­cerned. “I’ve de­liv­ered this Sport­sOne con­cept for the Land­mark Group and for my staff. It is my re­spon­si­bil­ity to give them a good ca­reer, and to carve a ca­reer for them. I have com­mu­ni­cated to them that I would work on the con­cept for five years, and I will be com­mit­ted to that. I owe it to my team as much as I owe it to the bosses.”

10 Don’t stag­nate

Shivam thinks this rule is re­ally im­por­tant. “At the end of five years at Sport­sOne I will go to Mickey and ask for a new as­sign­ment,” he says. “I’ll groom some­one to take over from me, and it will be solely on merit. I’ll be very happy if I can groom a woman to take my po­si­tion. We need to give more op­por­tu­ni­ties to women.”

So, what does he want to do next? “I want to de­velop five businesses for Land­mark, that’s my ca­reer as­pi­ra­tion,” he says. “There is no re­tire­ment for me, I am too driven for that. Maybe af­ter 20 years I may want to de­velop new lead­ers rather than new businesses. I want to make sure that at ev­ery stage there are the right people for the job at hand. People who can take the group to even greater heights.”

Shivam re­alised that women and chil­dren were a vi­tal part of the sports mar­ket and fo­cused on them

Shivam finds just be­ing with his wife and chil­dren re­laxes him

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UAE

© PressReader. All rights reserved.