Director of the Year Awards 2018 – Naveen Ahmed, managing director, The Parklane Group

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Naveen Ahmed - Director of the Year Awards

Every day over the Christmas period, we’ll speak to winners from the recent IoD Director of the Year Awards. Today it’s Naveen Ahmed, managing director of The Parklane Group, who won the Family Business award

‘Go with your gut instinct and take risks’

Naveen Ahmed has more than 30 years’ experience in the property industry with The Parklane Group – a business that his father, Nazir, started in 1977 when he purchased his first residential property. Today the Parklane portfolio includes brands such as Roomzzz (aparthotels) and IconInc (student accommodation). As managing director, Ahmed is involved in a wide range of projects, but is particularly passionate about leading the wider growth of the business, with plans to expand Roomzzz across Europe.

What’s been the most pivotal moment of your business journey so far? “Opening our first Roomzzz aparthotel in 2006. This pushed us out of our comfort zone and in to a new market. It also gave us the opportunity to take our business beyond Leeds in order to scale up.”

How would you describe your leadership style? “Almost like a father figure. I run an inclusive business and my door is always open. I like to empower people to get on with their jobs and trust their own judgement.”

What’s the secret to building a great team? “Get the best available people, with similar ethics to the company. I make my team feel valued, like family – their opinions matter.”

What has been your biggest challenge so far? “The recession of 2008-09. Everyone took for granted how easy it was to obtain finance before this time. It’s been a lot harder since then. In order for our brands to grow, we’ve had to look at innovative ways of financing deals via new partnerships, leases and joint ventures.”

What have you learnt about navigating turbulent times? “Ensure that you have all ends covered and be extremely careful not to get caught short, because support from partners such as banks and suppliers suddenly disappears in turbulent times. But there will also be opportunities, so always have reserve capital ready for an acquisition.”

Where do you get your best ideas from? “Experience – after years of watching your markets and competitors, you can innovate and improve. Also, travelling helps you to see how different markets operate, stimulating new ideas.”

The best piece of advice you’ve ever had? “Never be scared of failure. You have to go with your gut instinct and take risks. If you sit still, your business won’t grow.”

Entries are now open for the 2019 IoD Director of the Year Awards – click here for more info and to nominate

Click here for more winners’ interviews

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Director magazine

Director magazine

Director is the magazine for business leaders. Free to IoD members and available to purchase through subscription, each edition is full of insightful interviews with entrepreneurs and company directors.

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