To date, Beehive has facilitated funding to over 600 creditworthy SMEs in the UAE. In the last post in Beehive’s ‘Meet the team’ series we met with the business operations team who work closely with the business development (BD) and credit teams to assess businesses looking for funding. This time, we will meet Suraj Gopal, Investment Director in Abu Dhabi to give us an insight into his role at Beehive.
Hi Suraj, let us start with your role at Beehive. Can you tell me about your responsibilities?
As Investment Director for Beehive in Abu Dhabi, I am responsible for leading the BD team. I also oversee investor and SME client relationships, tie-ups with institutions to tap synergies, and I meet with clients to discuss the value addition of Beehive in their business and portfolio.
Aside from leading the BD team, I work closely with the operations and compliance team for support and approvals. There are times I work with the project team in developing new products for the UAE and other GCC markets and then with the marketing department for new initiatives.
Why is the BD team important for our customers?
Our business model and philosophy is customer centric service and it’s one of the core elements that makes Beehive what it is. We have supported more than 600 businesses. Our team front ends and interacts with businesses & investors. We provide them with an understanding of Beehive’s services and map them with the best possible solution to address their needs.
We enable businesses to gain access to funds by using technology on one side and enabling investors to gain access to alternate asset classes with good returns on the other.
What do you look for in an SME to help you decide whether they would be eligible for funding?
When it comes to an SME requesting funding, I look at the business and people behind the business with equal importance. When you are entering into a relationship with an SME, one needs to look at the people driving the business along with how the business is doing. Some businesses are nimble and agile but sometimes fall off a cliff. It all depends on the person managing and leading the business.
Now let’s talk more about you. When did you join Beehive and what led you to this career?
I officially joined Beehive early 2018 but I was always interested in joining the team from the date of its inception. I was regularly in touch with the leadership team, and I was interested to see how well the model was working for SMEs in the region, who typically have trouble accessing growth finance or working capital.
What is one thing that surprised you about working at Beehive?
I would say the young talent pool with so much knowledge and awareness about what is happening in technology space as well as upcoming trends that keep us relevant in the current marketplace. Also, the camaraderie! We encourage cross-departmental work and association at Beehive and there is always something new to learn from my peers.
Every single Beehive team member takes on new challenges and works their way through difficult tasks until they see the light at the end of the tunnel – it’s not a surprise, but that’s one of my favorite things about working at Beehive.
What would you say is your favorite part of your job?
My favourite part of the job? I would say it’s coming across business models with a unique proposition and creating an impact in our society. I enjoy giving SMEs the funding support that can help them reach the next level. The ‘awe moment’ is seen in our clients’ eyes when they understand Beehive’s unique selling proposition.
Yes, creating a positive impact on our society is great! Now can you tell me the toughest part of your job?
The toughest part for me is not being able to help a client in need when they do not meet our criteria.
Do you have any go-to productivity trick?
It is a combination of different things which work for some but not others. I divide my tasks into short-term and long-term with timelines to ensure I don’t lose focus. I believe what gets tracked gets delivered. I follow a dashboard approach which lets me know if I am slipping. If I was to look at one basic activity that helps me keep focused for day to day activities, it is to create a task list to be done on a certain day and stick to it. This helps me avoid any distractions.
Can you share any funny office stories?
We had a rule for new members of the BD team when they funded their first SME. They would have to do “The Dance” on top of a table for the entire office to see. I must admit, it did not go well for me even though the team enjoyed it.
Very funny! What do you enjoy doing when you are not working?
I like attending workshops and learn from seniors in the industry to improve my knowledge and skills.
What’s going well in your role? Any wins (big or small) this week?
More responsibilities have been given to me which shows the confidence and trust that our business leaders have on my capabilities. We have scaled up our performance last month after the unprecedented impact of COVID-19 which is a silver lining for the whole team.