Inspiring CEOs are driven by the zeal to achieve something new with their dedicated endeavors. They are team players and always focus on helping and uplifting every team member or employee. They never give up in the face of adversity and look at every challenge as an opportunity to make a difference in the business and the industry. These dedicated CEOs believe in teamwork and innovation. They learn from their mistakes and always come up with out-of-the-box ideas and approaches.
One such devoted CEO who is transforming the face of the business is none other than Nathan Hunt, the Partner&CEO of Gateway Group of Companies.He is a trained chef with experience in Europe and the West Indies before settling in the UAE in 2004. There, he continued in the food and beverage industry until he reached the top of his profession as a Regional Group Executive Chef.
“I believe that getting up and getting on with your day is the only way to succeed in business”
Over the years, many junior chefs who worked underNathan, have moved with him when he took on a new position as he believed in training them well and providing a good working environment. “Now, some of those chefs hold prestigious roles in leading hotels and restaurants, which is very satisfying for me to have been part of their development,” says Nathan. He believes that working as a chef is a highly challenging job. He had gained various easily transferrable management skills over the years, which helped him enhance Gateway’s business. These skills include managing teams, stakeholders, and suppliers; striving for excellence; cost control; implementing standard operating procedures; keeping on top of trends and anticipating the next; and so on.
About Gateway Group of Companies
The Gateway Group of Companies assists organizations to mitigate the risks of getting licensed to do business in the UAE. It aids its clients to choose the right license for their business and long-term goals, ensuring the protection of their assets and profits. The company’s on-the-ground knowledge and experience ensure license procedures are carried out efficiently and its nominee corporate sponsor service provides its clients with the control and protection of their business, which they require.
A Goal-Focused Leader
Nathan believes that getting up and getting on with your day is the only way to succeed in business. He is a firm believer in not putting off until tomorrow what can be done today. He starts his day normally at around 4:30am as he gets a good couple of hours of work done before the rest of the team gets into the office.
“Having those couple of hours extra means that I can get on to virtual meetings with the Far East and also catch the US west coast before they finish for the day”. Nathan believes that being based in the UAE and having the advantage of time zones, it is always great to start the day by completing some virtual meetings at first.
Taking on Challenges Enthusiastically
Nathan states, “The very nature of our business is a challenge, which is why our clients engage us to navigate government departments and manage government processes on their behalf”. During Nathan’s time with Gateway, there have been so many changes such as the country positioning itself as an attractive market for FDI.Hence, keeping on top of these issues and confidently guiding clients to the best solutions for their needs has been his goal.Nathan opines, “Despite many of Gateway’s competitors being price-driven and focusing on getting as many new clients as possible, irrespective of whether the product is right for the client, Gateway always remains committed to doing what is right for the client and providing value-based services with a personal touch”.
The advent of the pandemic last year was the biggest challenge Nathan had ever faced. Not only did he need to keep Gateway’s business operating, but he also had to look after their employees and had to support their clients. Initially, parts of the company’s services came to a stand-still due to the lockdowns, but the team adapted to new processes and kept the clients informed.
Facing the Pandemic Bravely
Nathan states that organizing visas for people to work in Abu Dhabi and Dubai is reliant upon people movement. During the first few months of the pandemic, Gateway experienced a slowdown in company formations whilst prospective clients re-evaluated their market entry strategies. However, during that time, a new area of business was established for them– expats setting up companies to get their own visas to be able to stay in the UAE. “Now that the ‘new normal’ is better understood, international companies are continuing their expansions and investments into the UAE, which is spurred on by the anticipated 100% foreign ownership of businesses in certain sectors”, says Nathan.
Nathan opines that as far as the team is concerned, Gateway is a very employee-focused business. It understands that its employees are its business. Therefore, its approach is always to treat them with respect and to value their contribution to the business. Therefore, it was important for the company to be able to keep each of its employees. “I’m delighted to advise that we have achieved this and each of them retains their full salary too”, he states. Nathan further adds that internally, they refer to the team as their Gateway family. They operate as a team and support each other.
During the initial days of the pandemic, everyone in the team was crucial to staying on top of regulatory and process changes so that they could provide the most up-to-date information and solutions to support to their clients.
Emphasis on Employee Empowerment
Nathan states, “Our approach is to treat employees as we would like to be treated ourselves and to provide a happy and healthy working environment that we would love to work in if we were in their shoes”. The company does this in numerous ways including having a funky office; empowering each employee; offering three months maternity and paternity leave (the norm is 45 days and 7 days, respectively). Nathan allows the staff to avail flexi-time to accommodate their personal/family routines. He actively discourages overtime – he understands that time outside of work is important too.
Essentials of an Inspiring Business Leader
Nathan believes that CEOs need to have a clear vision for the business and ensure that their teams understand what that is and how they each contribute to it. He also emphasizes that innovation is the key to success. Under his leadership, the company is always trying to do things better.
Nathan is of the opinion that being client focused is essential too. “Without our clients, we don’t have a business, so understanding their needs and the difficulties they face when expanding into a new territory is important,” he states.
As Gateway’s management team have invested their own money to initially set up Gateway, as well as subsequently establishing other new businesses of their own in the UAE. As a result of this, Nathan believes that Gateway is uniquely positioned to understand their client’s concerns about starting businesses in the UAE and provide solutions accordingly, as he has first-hand experience himself as an expat investor in the country.
Therefore, Nathan understands the risks of doing business overseas and the implications of making the wrong decisions. Therefore, Gateway’s services are designed to ensure control and protection for its clients. Nathan adds, “We treat our clients as we would like to be treated, we are honest, and make suggestions with integrity – we want long term relationships with our clients, so if we can help to set strong foundations in the UAE, it ultimately helps our business too”.
Under Nathan’s astute leadership, Gateway providesswift services.The company pridesitself on excellent communications.It confirms costs in advance to avoid nasty surprises during a project. This way, Nathan ensures their clients’ focus remains on building theirown businesses rather than being distracted by compliance matters.
Words of Wisdom
Addressing the young entrepreneurs of tomorrow, Nathan states that a successful leader is a person who has a vision for making changes and improvements. They possess the determination and perseverance to find solutions to make those changes happen and the courage to take decisions. One should always be thinking ahead, anticipating changes, and identifying opportunities.
He further states, “It’s also important to have charisma and portray your personal values to attract and surround yourself with a good team and a powerful network as you will need to be able to influence their support throughout your journey”.
Scaling the Future
With many changes on the horizon for business in the UAE, Nathan leads Gateway Group of Companies to continue to focus on government announcements that will affect the business and it’s clients. “The UAE’s FDI plans include attracting 700,000 new companies over the next decade. It is positioning itself as a key business hub and has been updating company and visa regulations during the last few years to be more attractive, which is now being reflected in the various global indexes, for example, it is currently ranked the 4th most competitive market globally”, says Nathan.
He states that Gateway is well-positioned to play a contributing factor to the UAE’s FDI goals. Hence, his company will continue to support organizations expanding into the UAE because its on-the-ground knowledge and experience are invaluable to such companies. Nathan adds, “Our services will evolve along with the regulatory environment and we’ll continue to be the authority on company formation and market entry, accordingly”. Over the last couple of years, the group has diversified its investments across a variety of sectors including energy, the arts, F&B, and property. Nathan states that a part of Gateway’s growth strategy will be continuing to identify such investment opportunities and its global partnerships.
“We believe in creating a happy and healthy work environment”