It’s 2:30pm and we are sitting in the offices of Niche Publishers located in the Jumeirah Lake Towers. From our seats on the fifth floor, we are able to capture the splendid views of the adjacent skyscrapers, the beautiful lake decked with gorgeous palm trees and the wooden benches conveniently placed for the passers-by to rest.
The stunning view is reminiscent of the affluence and influence of the constantly evolving city of Dubai… home to entrepreneur, publisher and astute businessman, Sudesh Shankar.
Cutting a sharp figure in an impeccably tailored navy blue suit, Sudesh fits right into the lifestyle of Dubai. His affable personality lends to a smooth conversation that reveals his keen intellect, as well as, his vast knowledge of the industries in which he operates.
Mr Shankar, how did Niche Publishers come about?
I’ve been in this region for over eighteen years of which seventeen years has been spent in publishing. Three years ago, saw some downsizing in most industries after the recession. I was fortunate to have kept my job for two years after the recession but the writing was on the wall. The company I was working with eventually relinquished publishing as a portfolio. This was what prompted me to assess my next career move. After a year of planning, I collaborated with an investor on starting a publishing company, however within a year of our collaboration; I made the decision to take control of my titles. It proved to be a wise decision despite having to invest more money in order to fully own the business. This experience caused minor setbacks during the first year. It taught me valuable lessons in how to run a business. Despite the split, I still consider my former business partner a fantastic guy and there is no love lost between us.
How many titles do you carry and what are they called?
We have three titles, two of which are monthly titles while the third is a quarterly title. Our monthly titles are Premium and The Oath, which look at insurance and law respectively, across Gulf States and wider MENA region. The third title is a contract publication which we were awarded out of a pool of many other publishers by the Qatar Financial Centre. It deals with insurance for the local industry in Doha, Qatar.
Are you involved in any sports or community groups?
I am a devoted fan of cricket. I play cricket and if I am not playing it, I am watching it. I am very proud of being an Indian. Naturally, my favourite team is India.
As you know, we are an educators’ magazine, so please share with us who your favourite teacher was and why?
The Headmaster of my high school, Linus Cevejo made a lasting impression on me. During a class he once had with us I recall him saying, ‘character is what you are when nobody is looking’. It was such a profound statement which has remained with me all these years and I have proven it to be true. Most people tend to act differently when they think no one is watching.
If you had the option to host a PTA meeting or coach your son’s cricket team, which would you choose?
I haven’t missed a single Parent Teachers meeting since my son started school. I take pride in being able to say that because I do get so busy at times. However, my passion is cricket, so I would prefer to coach my son’s cricket team. As a matter of fact, my son is currently being coached professionally in cricket. I am there for most of his sessions and I coach him as well.
Give us three (3) things every entrepreneur should consider before going into business.
I would recommend that serious consideration is given to the worst case scenario. What would one do if they did not achieve the anticipated results? People tend to overlook that. Secondly, know what you are good at and stick with it. The third is to be diligent and focused. Do it [business] because you want to do it.
Do you have a philosophy that you use to guide key business decisions? If yes, what is it?
There is always something good in everyone and in even the most difficult relationships. A positive attitude with an open mind is crucial before you make any decision in life.
What do you enjoy most about Dubai?
I definitely love being in Dubai. The openness of Dubai has helped it more than its neighbours. Dubai accepts the world. I believe that Dubai is poised to be the Middle Eastern gateway to the world. It offers a wealth of opportunities and much industry.
Where would you say is a wonderful retreat or secret get-away in the UAE.
There is one place that has stayed on my mind since I’ve been there, Bab Al Shams Desert Resort. It is very serene and is the perfect place for someone to have some quiet time for reflection.
What was your last luxury purchase?
My last luxury purchase was my car. It’s an Audi A5, supercharged with Quattro. I purchased it a year and a half ago.
What gadget can’t you live without?
It’s my Blackberry. It is one of the best phones when you travel especially when it comes to affordability and its data capacity.
What is your proudest achievement?
It is yet to come. There are quite a few things that I am proud of but everything I have achieved so far is a small percentage of what I really want to achieve.
What’s your favourite restaurant?
Mahesh Lunch Home. It’s a seafood speciality restaurant out of Mumbai, India that opened recently here in Dubai. As a child, I hated seafood until I ate there. Now, I am a fully-fledged seafood lover. It’s a seafood lovers delight!
By Carolyn Lee
By Carolyn Lee