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Embracing change may not be easy, but it is essential

February 24, 2021

By: Amira Sajwani

If the past year has taught us one thing, it is to be open to change. The effects of the global Covid-19 pandemic have ushered in drastic changes to how businesses and people operate. More companies are adopting the work-from-home model and consumers are increasingly turning to online shopping. People are often resistant to change, but what is important for them to understand is that change, itself, is constant.

When companies adapt, innovate and create a culture of change, they enable growth and transformation. Effective businesses are those who take a close look at themselves and explore ways to work smarter, increase productivity and as a result, accelerate growth. By innovating and adapting, you can strengthen your organisation and look at challenges as an opportunity to move forward. So, how does openness to change help keep us ahead?

Innovation key to survival

One of the key takeaways from accepting change is that it pushes you towards making decisions that will define your future. Businesses who fail to innovate will find it difficult to cope with changing times. The mistake that successful businesses often make is the false notion that they will stay on top forever, which blinds them to the evolving world around them.

A perfect example of this is what happened to Blockbuster. In fact, many young readers might not have even heard of this company. The home movie and video game rental services giant, Blockbuster Video, was founded in 1985 and arguably one of the most iconic brands in the video rental space.  At its peak in 2004, Blockbuster employed 84,300 people worldwide and had 9,094 stores. Unable to transition towards a digital model, Blockbuster filed for bankruptcy in 2010. In 2000, Netflix approached Blockbuster with an offer to sell their company to Blockbuster for US$50 million. The Blockbuster CEO, was not interested in the offer because he thought it was a “very small niche business” and it was losing money at the time. As of July 2017, Netflix had 103.95 million subscribers worldwide and a revenue of US$8.8bn.

At DAMAC, we immediately recognised and embraced the changing trends caused by the pandemic. We did not resist them. First and foremost, we quickly fast-tracked our ongoing emphasis on digitisation. We adopted video calling to hold regular meetings with our agents, stakeholders and customers. We made virtual home tours available for our clients, so that they could view and buy properties, without ever having to travel or step foot in the country. Because we were quick on our feet, we were better able to absorb market shocks and make progress on ongoing projects, such as awarding the main contract to start work on ZADA, a 26-storey building in Business Bay, the topping up of Tower B in our AYKON City and pushing forward with our DAMAC Tower Nine Elms in London.

Personal growth

Another important aspect of change is how it effects our personal growth. When confronted with change, we can either allow fear to take over and hold us back from accomplishing our goals, or we can face the fear head-on and challenge ourselves to take a chance on something we had never considered, improve upon our skills or even learn a new skill set altogether.

While the pandemic has resulted in a wave of isolation and economic uncertainty, many people have allowed their mental health to deteriorate. While some have adopted destructive coping habits, others have used the opportunity as a chance to grow.

For many who lost jobs, it has pushed them to pursue a higher education or start a business around a passion of theirs, that they were too afraid to do. For others, the economic slowdown has led to lifestyle downsizing, which many describe as a blessing in disguise. They were able to detach themselves from many unnecessary worldly possessions and focus more on the important things, such as spending quality time with family and staying in touch with loved ones.

My father, DAMAC Chairman Hussain Sajwani, always instilled in me and my siblings the drive to better ourselves. Every company goes through ups and downs. When we were going through ups, our father never let us become complacent or lazy, but instead challenged us to take on more responsibility and encouraged us to search for inspiration from any possible source. When we are equipped with advanced knowledge and skill sets, we are better prepared to confront challenges and to endure through the inevitable downs.  

Amira Sajwani, Senior Vice President of Operations, DAMAC Properties

Revealing inner strengths

I was fortunate enough to have the support of my father to help me understand the intricacies of real estate and business, while my mother helped me maintain a balanced life.

From doing my master’s from the London School of Economics to taking on responsibilities at DAMAC, to balancing a home life I was taught to always better myself, never be complacent and to face challenges directly.

When challenged, you discover new things about yourself and hidden strengths.

As a result, this boosts your self-esteem and self-confidence, which helps you trust in yourself to accomplish goals and step out of your comfort zone. Change is always scary, but it is inevitable. The quicker we are to embrace this, the better prepared we will be to face any challenge.  

-Amira Sajwani is Senior Vice President of Operations at DAMAC Properties