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Yusuf Poonawala - Chief Experiences Officer at Luxury Escapades | International Business Coach | Author

Yusuf Poonawala

Yusuf Poonawala

Yusuf Poonawala

Crucial Success Skills Forged Through My Journey

Have been in the travel trade since 01 November 1995. Worked with an MNC as a trainee and climbed the ranks into the corporate office within first 6 months. Love for the job and thrill was so great, that even whilst pursing my full time PGMBA from MET Bandra, I kept doing projects on a regular basis with the company. Only to rejoin them full time in 1999. Having worked closely with the CEO, DIRECTOR AND DIRECTOR OPERATIONS, I had been groomed from the management to always lead a business unit. This was very well executed as a plan by in my various roles, as the one who set up the first offices in Gujarat, New York, and turned around the Pune office post 9/11. 

With 2002, took over the role of the Head of outbound sales and led various teams across the country in order to make the business grow from 25 cr to 250cr in 2008. In this process, I excelled in the fact that since I am a team player, I loved working with people and understanding group dynamics. Seeing how culturally diverse we are as a country was not only evident in client behavior but also staff attitudes. Adapting to each region helped my understanding of people better and in turn helped me, help them, to make better teams and better leaders. A person of radical views and who loves experimentations, I have always encouraged nurturing talent from within. Having blessed with a knack of identifying talent early on, I have been able identify individuals, who have grown up to be future leaders.

Crafting Creative Opportunities from Every Challenge

Adversity is a distant relative, that visits me regularly. In 2008, due to the Lehmann crisis, I landed up losing my entire savings (and that of my wife’s). to add more to the situation, we were just expecting our second child at the same time. But I have managed to learn the hard way, that if the Almighty gives you a problem, the resilience to overcome that problem is also hidden in you. To find that strength to fight and rise again, is the true test of time. Like I said adversity is a relative, keeps visiting. 

Precisely a decade later, when both of us had grown in our company roles (I did mention, ours is an office romance, so I met my better half in the same organization in 1999); and I was a Senior Vice President of the most successful business unit in the organization then, we had a fire in our house. My neighbor's flat had a short circuit, and the fire broke into our house, resulting in my 2 kids (17 and 11 years), my wife and me being stuck in our daughter’s room for 45 minutes, gasping for air via a small window, screaming for our lives, so that the neighbors would be able to see and hear us. Which they eventually did, and the fire brigade finally managed to douse the fire after 45 minutes. We barely made it out, with me being admitted in the ICU for a day. 

We managed to find accommodation for ourselves via a friend, for 8 weeks, within which we managed to redo the house so that it was livable again, from the ashes that it had been reduced to, with the TVs and Acs melting onto the sofas, like the tentacles of the alien creatures. Barely we managed to come home and the organisation, which my wife and I had given our life and souls (besides 24 years) to, decided to fold over. With unpaid salaries of over 6 months, lost gratuities etc. and the savings spent in the house, we were not only back to square one, but also on ground zero. How does one come back from the fact that the place which you helped built, you saw grow, was suddenly not going to exist? One was barely recovering from these losses, that the world was struck by COVID. Which resulted in the lockdown, but it brought our entire trade to naught. Did I not tell you; I am into Travel and holidays. 

Some smart investing in the second phase, got us to tide through covid. It is then in 2022, I started my own boutique agency, catering to a niche market segment. Difficult it was, definitely, but it has been my calling. I loved creating and curating experiences, for my guests, my team members and my family. That is what I do know too.

My Impact

Likewise, I always have been a great orator, and hence a brilliant trainer. I used to conduct trainings for my team members regularly and quite often even invited to train the other divisions too. So post covid I have utilized my team to get myself certified by 2 independent authorities, 1 from USA, 1 from INDIA and now I am a certified International Business Coach. Wherein I train, entrepreneurs, small businesses and teams in order how to grow their businesses.

Scaling New Heights in Personal and Professional Triumphs

I always measure success by the definition of my happy space. My happy zone comprises of my Queen (wife of 23 years, who post covid, didn’t join me, instead ventured onto her own, luxury events, like Tomorrowland in Belgium) our Champion (Hamza, son, studying in University of Toronto, Canada, pursuing his double majors in math and data science) and Princess (Amatullah, currently in 9th, from BIS). If these 3 are happier today, than they were yesterday, then what I am doing, is correct. Likewise when I measure success for a business, I have a simple idea which I pursue. “are you in a better position, than what you were in yesterday?” if yes, then you are on the right path. Rest is all peripheral.

The Synergy Between My Path and Recognition Values

What resonates in my successful turnarounds and the recognition this award gives, is the spirit of resilience and the intent of fighting back, against all odds. Cos failure is not an option. I have seen ups and downs, highs and lows in my career and personal life, but the only reason I survived and succeeded, is because I had a Queen backing me. My sheet anchor, who in all times has stood by me more than just holding me. Ensuring that we all grow, TOGETHER. What makes me tick is the mischievous smile our son gives on his once a week zoom calls. What makes me breathe is the cute grumpy face our daughter makes at me in her fake anger, blood of my blood.