A week in the life of… National Bonds CEO Mohammed Qasim Al Ali

The National Bonds Corporation chief executive reveals his dedication to the job, even at the weekend

Sunday

I wake up at 4.30am for morning prayers at our neighbourhood mosque. This gives me a much-needed spiritual boost to deal with the day ahead. I then take a nap before I head out to the office by 8am. I quickly scan the newspapers and websites to keep pace with developments in the United Arab Emirates and the rest of the world, paying special attention to social and financial issues. In line with our culture at National Bonds, where we believe in sharing information for better communication, I frequently integrate some of what I learn from the news into my direct reports. Later, I walk around the office to chat with the staff and managers, inquiring about their personal lives – weddings, new babies, and special occasions. No matter how busy the day may be, I always like to have a word with our brightest stars and see what makes them tick.

Monday

Early in the day, I review the revenue and budget performance against our targets, checking how new products and services are doing. I also emphasise to my team that business cases should be robust with well-defined key performance indicators to ensure that the funds are well spent. I later spend some time with the executive business team to look over our investments portfolio, market trends and new opportunities. I use the rest of the day to make sure my agenda and tasks are clear and synchronised for the rest of the week. Reading is also a crucial part of my day and I enjoy surfing the internet for the latest financial reports as well as to check out topical stories on people’s spending and saving habits and challenges.

Tuesday

Today I meet with external stakeholders before having lunch with some colleagues and spending time with the company’s different teams and units. We deal with people’s money and investments, so every day presents a new challenge to ensure consistency in our services and quality standards. What I truly like to follow up on is our call centre news and updates – I believe these are the real indicators of our performance. I am always keen to incentivise creativity among the team and drive them to go beyond their limits and explore more avenues to excel. It is easy to fall into the trap of daily routines so I try to generate energy among the different teams and help them enjoy their routine by encouraging them to think outside of the box.

Wednesday

Today is the busiest day of the week. I spend almost two hours with my team elaborating on my thoughts on various issues that I may have discussed earlier in the week. Writing an opinion piece or answering media questions is a major task I aim to fulfill once a week. In this information age, it is crucial to keep communication lines open with the media – it plays a significant role in delivering key messages on the right financial decisions.

Thursday

I spend the majority of today meeting with people inside the company one-on-one, either formally or informally. It is the only way to understand first-hand what is happening in different parts of the company. I go over the following week’s calendar to ensure that it has factored in all the priorities I have in mind for the company and I also do my best to strike a balance between internal and external meetings. Once I am satisfied with the week’s team performance, only then can I enjoy the weekend.

Friday

Friday is the day to ‘rest after battle’. I devote it to my family and we have breakfast together before attending Friday prayers. Later we go to my mother’s house for lunch, where we meet my brothers, sisters and their children. But old habits die hard and I frequently use my phone to check emails or newsfeeds. I try to focus on what the business will be doing a year from now, laying the foundation for future growth and opportunity for the business and brand.

Saturday

I take a nap after morning prayers and wake up again at 9am. I have breakfast with my wife at my favourite Emporio Armani Café at the Mall of the Emirates and then attend to various personal matters. I make myself available to people I encounter at malls as it is the most efficient and productive way to gather feedback on the company and to understand the business more deeply. My company is nothing without its customers – and the information I receive from them is hugely influential in helping us conduct business and shape our plans for the future. Based on these random conversations I take time in the afternoon to make a list of the top three things I must get done in the coming week. I also make a list of the three things that must be achieved each month to ensure the company remains ahead of the curve regarding customer satisfaction and returns.