How to do it right like Colm McLoughlin, who makes millions of dollars in Dubai. - MENA startups, innovation, and tech news

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How to do it right like Colm McLoughlin, who makes millions of dollars in Dubai.
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How to do it right like Colm McLoughlin, who makes millions of dollars in Dubai.

In the year 1983, Colm McLoughlin first arrived in Dubai, originally from Dublin, he came to Dubai with two other Irish business experts George Horan and John Sutcliffe, for a 6 months project to set up duty-free operations in Dubai. While both George and John left to work for other companies in the 1990s itself, Colm McLoughlin continued working very hard and his hard work paid off when by the end of the first year, Dubai Duty-Free recorded sales of $20 million (Dh73.56 million at current exchange rate) and now currently in the year 2020 the sales turnover stood at $697 million (Dh2.56 billion).

Colm described how it all began he said, “Our team arrived in July, and on December 20, DDF launched its operations. We were a small team of ten people. Today, DDF employs more than 2,600 people. The operation has consistently raised the benchmark for airport retail and it continues to grow. We could not have achieved this without the dedicated team we have on board.

Mostly, we came to work at 7 in the morning and worked till midnight. We set up the operations in less than six months, which was quite a feat — all thanks to the great team I worked with. We started work based on what we knew from the operations at Shannon Airport. Soon we started sourcing our suppliers and agents. All along, we kept asking ourselves what would and could be different here.”

In the year 2011, Mcloughlin was made the executive vice-chairman and the CEO of DDF, boh very honorable and consequential positions in the company. Colm believed that one of the most significant developments that led to success was, “setting up a good environment” in the workplace, he said,“During the set-up, our focus was on sourcing dedicated agents for our supplies. We had to set up a training system as well. Our first major recruitment was a group of enthusiastic people from Manila. I flew to Manila personally to hire them for the job.

There were more than 100 people waiting to be interviewed, of which 35 made the final cut.” Colm said of these 35 people, 25 worked at DDF until last year. “Everyone is retired now,” he said and thus he often has mentioned that the success of DDF can all be owed to the dream team, “It is not me. It is not Colm McLoughlin. It is the great dream team we have at DDF that has taken Dubai to an all-new level,” he said, adding: “We are all like one big family. We all know each other well. We care for each other.

Just the other day, I got a message from a former Indian staff member of DDF. He started working at DDF in 1991 and retired last year. He was inquiring about all of us at DDF.” He further appreciated all the immense support he has received over the years, “It is amazing how there is no bureaucracy and our ideas are put into action with quick approvals. Regularly we sit together and brainstorm. That works well.”

Needless to say, a man as humble and hardworking as McLoughlin who is working even today, despite having earned massively through DDF, was bound to be successful. Not only is he hardworking but also taught the same to his son, who is now a Senior Vice-President at DAMAC Group, Nial has had his fair share of struggle, as he mentioned, “I joined DDF. But just because my father worked there, I did not get any special privileges. My job title was that of a storeman and my responsibilities involved stacking the shelves and sweeping the office floor. At that time, I was 18, ready for anything and learning the ropes,”

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