Careem’s commercial and governmental relations director Mohammed Abulnaga Nagaty has significant business development experience across four industries including energy, transportation, financial services and food and beverage.
In addition to being an AUC engineering graduate who worked with companies like Toshiba and Fawry, Nagaty’s also a board member at SolarizEgypt. We caught up with Nagaty to know the secrets to his success.
First of all, tell us about your background and how you got to where you are today
I started my journey with Careem 9 months ago. I was the business development director and now I’m the commercial and governmental relations director. Aside from that, I’m also a board member at SolarizEgypt; an EPC that designs, installs and commissions grid-connected PV solar power plants.
I didn’t wait for graduation to start my professional life. I joined many activities and worked as a PR agent for restaurants and cafes while I was an AUC electronics engineering student. This experience taught me a lot about life, people and the food and beverage industry.
After graduation, I worked for several companies: Toshiba, Mubadala, and Eviko for short periods of time. Then after the revolution, I decided to start my own business in the food and beverage industry since I already had some experience in it. Shortly after that, I was invited to join Fawry. At that time it was just a small new startup trying to explore the fin-tech industry landscape in Egypt. We grew together and I ended up being the business development cash manager. Fawry got an exit so I left. A couple of months later, I joined Careem.
What apps, software or tools can’t you live without?
My work mainly involves reaching out to people to create deals or partnerships, so Facebook and LinkedIn are important tools for me. I also love Audible, it helps me listen to books on the road as I’m not a big fan of reading (I know I shouldn’t say that but it’s the truth!). I also use Microsoft Access to organize and keep all my professional contracts.
What’s your work-space setup like?
Most of what I do involves organizing and attending meetings, either internally or externally. I have an office but I rarely use it. I usually work in my favorite meeting room so that it’s easy to jump into meetings quickly.
What’s your best time-saving shortcut or life hack?
Every night before I go to sleep, I jot down everything i need to do the next day, that way I always know precisely what I need to get done, and I go on with planning my day much easier. This saves me a lot of time and effort.
What’s your favorite to-do list manager?
I know what I’m doing is wrong, but I usually depend on my memory to manage my to-do tasks. No disastrous consequences yet, but I think I need to start thinking about using a note-taking app or something soon.
What are you better at than everyone else? What’s your secret?
I am a closer, I close deals.
Do you listen to music at work? Or do you prefer silence?
I prefer silence. I am either on the phone or in a meeting and when I use my laptop to finish some work, I deal with excel sheets and numbers. So I have to be fully focused with no distractions to avoid any errors.
What are you currently reading? Or what’s something you’d recommend?
I am listening to Brad Stone’s The Everything Store:Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon for the second time now. It’s an amazing book to read!
Also, if you are into sales and business development, I really recommend The Art of War, it’s a very good read especially because working in this field mainly depends on negotiation. I also like reading about human psychology to have a better understanding of people so that I can communicate more effectively with them.
How do you recharge? What do you do when you want to forget about work?
Well, I consider myself a workaholic. I rarely take vacations and when I do I feel anxious and I start getting sick. People say you should balance your social life and work, but it just doesn’t work like that for me.
What’s your sleep routine like? Are you a night owl or an early-riser?
I keep being told that you should sleep early and wake up early to be successful, but again that’s not how I work. I stay awake till the time of the Fajr prayer, I pray and then I write down everything that I need to do the next day. I then wake up around 10:30 am and keep working till 1 or 2 am.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Keep your work and personal life separate. If you have problem at work, let it stay there and don’t take it back home. Likewise, don’t bring your personal problems to work. This has been life-changing advice for me and I encourage everyone to do the same.
What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?
I see myself as a risk-taker. I think most of my career decisions where big risks. For example, when I decided to leave the comfort of managing my own restaurant to join a small fintech startup called Fawry, when I left the successful position I had to join Careem (which was at that time the underdog of the ridesharing business war), and even SolarizEgypt, a company that specializes in the solar energy industry which is a hard sell in a country like Egypt. Which is the biggest? I don’t know, you tell me.
Any advice you want to add?
I see a growing trend between millennials. They all want to take off and escape the country instead of staying here and trying to build something. I understand their reasons, but if you ask for my advice, I’d say stay here, work hard and give it a try, and if it doesn’t work, leave, but at least try.
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