Published On:24 September 2013
Posted by Indian Muslim Observer

Interview with Syed A. Asim, COO, Dion Global Solutions: Muslims have the history of being more into business but very few could scale up their business

Syed A. Asim has over 16 years of experience in selling software products in Indian financial industry. In his previous roles, prior to Dion, he has also worked across Middle East and was instrumental in growing the business tremendously.

Asim is Chief Operating Officer at Dion Global Solutions. He is widely known across the industry and has a great reputation across capital market in India. His passion for the industry is what led him to bring new revolutionary concepts in technology and client servicing, winning him several prestigious awards in return. He is veteran in creating awareness and taking the concept of CTCL trading to the masses across India & Middle East.

He is B. Tech. in Mechanical and MBA. His vast experience in sales has enabled him to conduct multiple trainings in sales, soft skills, corporate etiquettes, negotiations, etc. for various organizations and institutes. He also published many white papers on Trading Technology Solutions.

Previously, Asim has worked as Head of Sales for Direct FN Ltd. (Mubasher), Dubai, National Sales Head at Financial Technologies (India) Ltd. and Regional Head (North) for MCX.At Dion, Asim is based in NCR (India) and heads business development activities and operations across South Asia, Middle East & Africa. He reports to global CEO & Managing Director, Ralph J Horne based at London, UK.

Mr. Asim also holds forthright views about Muslims and their entrepreneurship skills. He says, "Muslims have the history of being more into business but very few could scale up their business to the level of a company or beyond. Some of the reasons are that they do not adopt best management practices, latest technological tools and do not know good consultants who can help them in getting sync with modern ways of doing business."

Here are excerpts of interview conducted by Shahabuddin Yaqub, Managing Editor of IndianMuslimObserver.com for the benefit of readers.

Shahabuddin Yaqub: You have associated with global brand, does it give you comfort or make you loaded with lots of responsibilities?

Syed Asim: Association with global brand changes your thought process by making you think multi dimensional and with respect to different frame of reference. One needs to keep in mind various practices, cultures, time zones, climates, etc. while interacting or even addressing on mails with people of different counties.

Feeling of comfort or load of responsibility depends on whether you enjoy your work or just carrying out as a task. I have always enjoyed my work that keeps me energetic even at the end of the day.

Shahabuddin Yaqub: You have been champion of sales. It is said that you can sell anything to anyone. How did you get this mastery, as it does not happen to be so easy?

Syed Asim: I believe sales is an art of first believing very strongly into your own product/service, then understanding the need of the customer very clearly and finally proposing something that can benefit him. I always sold trust; product/services got sold on its own. To become better sales person, one should have thorough knowledge of the product/service and how it can benefit the customer. The key is innovation and out of box thinking. To quote an example, once I was traveling in an inter-state transport bus on a hot summer afternoon. The bus stopped in between for the meal and it was terribly hot. A small boy came selling newspaper and asked me if I want to buy it. In the state I was, I could never imagine reading newspaper so I said, no. He took out a newspaper and said it will help you in waiving air. I immediately bought it. He actually figured out my need and suggested a different application of the same product.

Shahabuddin Yaqub: Today very few people have this rare combination of experience in Information Technology, Capital Markets and Sales. Could you tell us how did you achieve this rare combination of expertise especially when you come from Mechanical Engineering background?

Syed Asim: I always had passion for capital markets and started doing small investments (that I used to earn from tuitions) into stocks since school period. Joined stock broking after Engineering. IT was growing rapidly in India and I realized that technology would become key differentiator for any business in future. Apart from my responsibilities, I started spending time with our IT vendors till late evening or on weekends implementing newer technologies, understanding IT networks, and testing different softwares, which gave me good knowledge of the field. My interest gave me a new opportunity and a software company approached me for helping them in developing their new derivatives trading platform. Later I got an offer to join their sales team. Initially I took it as a challenge but very soon I realized that having practical knowledge of both the domains (IT and Capital Markets) gave me an edge of suggesting various solutions to my prospective customers.

Shahabuddin Yaqub: If anyone wants to achieve a good growth for his company, what steps would you suggest him?

Syed Asim: I would like to share two of my principles for achieving good growth in the company:


2. Leave such legacy that YOU SHOULD BE REPLACED BY MULTIPLE PEOPLE, NOT ONE, in case you part from the company.

Shahabuddin Yaqub: Today youth seems to be more inclined towards job rather than business whereas many of them can turn to be a successful entrepreneur. How do you read this trend?

Syed Asim: Maybe because more workers are required than owners (joking). If you ask majority of the people at any stage, whether at the time of joining any course or even taking up any profession, they do not have clear goals. They would have taken call based on someone’s experience or suggestion. Goal setting exercise involves many steps, which starts from self-realization session. Once you are fully aware about your strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, it becomes much easier to decide the direction and goal.

It is different that for any successful business one should know ground realities and practical scenarios, which comes from working as an employee. Many factors are essential for starting own business like startup capital, required skill, infrastructure and more over risk taking ability, while in job you can learn at someone’s cost and take experience to become more useful. But one of the key reasons for the trend is lack of awareness and guidance for starting their own business.

Shahabuddin Yaqub: Many people start their business and put lots of money in it nevertheless they receive failure at the end. Where do they make mistakes?

Syed Asim: Though there are numbers of reasons, but some very common mistakes that leads to failures are:

1. Insufficient Market Research: Choice of business, market size, target segment, positioning of product, timing, competition, etc. are important factors that need to be thoroughly studied before start of business. In absence of these it is based on certain assumptions, which may fail.

2. Early Give-up: Every business has gestation period in which it requires special attention before it can turnaround into a profitable venture. Most of the time it is seen that people either exhaust their money and energy or lose hope and quit when they may be very close to achieving success.

3. Lack of Sound Distribution Model: I very frequently come across many people who have a very good product but they are not able to sell it well. Sales and Marketing is a very essential part of a successful business. On the contrary there are some people who do not have any product but have very strong distribution setup so they make money by trading (selling others product at profit margin).

Shahabuddin Yaqub: There are many people who are having good business ideas and marketing skill but they need money to start, where they can get finance from and how?

Syed Asim: Every society have two sets of people, one who have money and looking for options to invest, other who have ideas and skills to do good business. The challenge is to connect both into a successful partnership model.

There is need of some experiences people to validate the ideas and business projects of the budding entrepreneurs and connect them to the financiers who are interested in investing into their projects on ownership sharing basis.

Shahabuddin Yaqub: Majority of Muslims do not understand business. Is it because they are not in sync with modern world or some other reasons do you see?

Syed Asim: I would say that Muslims have the history of being more into business but very few could scale up their business to the level of a company or beyond. Some of the reasons are that they do not adopt best management practices, latest technological tools and do not know good consultants who can help them in getting sync with modern ways of doing business.

Shahabuddin Yaqub: Muslim businessmen generally do not prefer to get finance if it is based on interest what are the other ways they can try for?

Syed Asim: Solution to the problem is Islamic Banking. Many organizations claimed interest free business model and then broke the trust of the people. Now its difficult for people to trust anybody unless there is provision in the banking laws for Islamic Banking and either existing banks start separate Islamic Banking window or new banks come up.

In absence of Islamic banking system Muslims willing to get interest free finance will have to find financers who can lend them money against equity in their company or profit / loss sharing agreement by appointing a reliable auditor.

Shahabuddin Yaqub: Some Muslim businessmen are concerned as they have good products but their sale is not increasing despite making every effort. Where do they need to focus?

Syed Asim: They need to focus on the following:

1. Market feedback – get feedback and analyze with unprejudiced mind

2. Sales strategy – ways of attracting target customers

3. Right Positioning – deciding your competitor & customer segment

4. Correct Pricing – pricing according to your positioning

Shahabuddin Yaqub: For any product and company, branding, advertising and marketing how does it help to improve sale? Do small products also need good promotion or they are treated differently?

Syed Asim: For any product or company, branding, advertising and marketing plays very critical role as it forms the image or perception. Need of promotion, more depends on existing demand than the size of the product.

Shahabuddin Yaqub: Non-banking system without depending upon interest can work and survive? What is your opinion about it?

Syed Asim: Banking and non – banking interest free systems have huge potential. In fact it is the need of Muslim populated countries. But in order to build trust on the new system a strong regulatory system is essential.

Shahabuddin Yaqub: There are many businessmen who have inherited business either from their father or family and they are not well equipped with modern business modules. Do you want to help them if they show their interest?

Syed Asim: Yes, I feel pleasure to contribute to all such friends who are blessed with the businesses and looking for the guidance.

Shahabuddin Yaqub: There are ample opportunities and multiple choices available in India but Muslims are still impoverished. They are somewhat far behind to capitalize on these opportunities. How they can be empowered in such a way that they could become able to get benefit out of it?

Syed Asim: First step towards taking benefit from ample opportunities available in the country and outside is to open up for accepting the changes, which is a major change in itself. It is advisable to go through some training programs, which can help in changing the mindset and opening up for new ideas.

Shahabuddin Yaqub: Many personality development workshops are conducted by companies for their employees. Does it help to any extent?

Syed Asim: Yes, it helps a lot but its most effective if it starts from the top most level. Top-bottom approach helps in changing the culture of the organization. Training needs may be assessed and planned accordingly.

Shahabuddin Yaqub: How compulsory it is for professionals to get them equipped with new skills and technology in their respective as well as new field in order to grow faster?

Syed Asim: Quality of people plays the most important role in the success and growth of any organization. Quality has two components: Attitude and Skill (technical & non technical). As we invest on updating and upgrading tools and equipments (infrastructure) of the organization, it is equally important to invest in upgrading attitude and skills of the professionals.

Shahabuddin Yaqub: Do you agree with me that Muslim Community as a whole has a problem as far as attitude is concerned? Some workshops should be conducted for them so as to improve their attitude towards community and towards themselves.

Syed Asim: I wouldn’t say that Muslim Community as a whole has attitude problem as there are always different types of people in every community but I would agree that attitude plays major role in the growth and development of any individual or community. Conducting workshops to improve attitude will help in changing the outlook. Quran gives us a clear principle: ‘Allah does not change the condition of the people (community) until they (first) change that which is in their hearts’ [Ar-Ra’d, 13-11]

Shahabuddin Yaqub: When you think about present Muslim leadership what kind of thoughts come to your mind?

Syed Asim: ‘Whom should I follow?’ is a big question, for which every Muslim is trying to find an answer.

Shahabuddin Yaqub: Without leadership community gets astray and we have been witness to this bitter reality. Now the big challenge in front of community is to develop able leaders who can lead the community as well as nation. Where do you see hope?

Syed Asim: I agree that it’s a big challenge for the whole community but we will not be able to realize and recognize these leaders till we completely change our way of thinking (our thought process) and connect ourselves with the Book of Guidance, The Holy Quran, a common link between every Muslim.

Shahabuddin Yaqub: Do you have any message for youths?

Syed Asim: Youth should keep in mind that it’sresponsibility of every Muslims to excel in education, jobs and businesses without compromising their ethics and Islamic values so as to project a right image of the community both in India and internationally.

Shahabuddin Yaqub: Where do you see yourself in coming ten years?

Syed Asim: In coming ten years I would share my knowledge and expertise with those who require guidanceand further make efforts to create my identity on national and international level.

Shahabuddin Yaqub: As a chief operating officer what are challenges you have ahead?

Syed Asim: As COO I have a challenge of growing my organization, in spite of a prolong economic slow down. I am quite confident that my dynamic and dedicated team of professionals will take any challenge head-on that will come in our way to achieve success.

[Shahabuddin Yaqub is Managing Editor of IndianMuslimObserver.com. He can be contacted at skyaqub@indianmuslimosberver.com]

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Posted by Indian Muslim Observer on September 24, 2013. Filed under , , , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Feel free to leave a response

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