2020, The Year That Was: Pallavi Dean, Founder And Creative Director, Roar
"People are always going to look for quality work, and that's what has been front of our minds this whole time."
Pallavi Dean may have founded Roar only in 2013, but a look at the acclaim and awards her UAE-based boutique architecture and interior design studio has racked up so far can make one assume this enterprise to be much older than it actually is. And it’s this youthful dynamism of the company that Dean and her team leaned into over the course of 2020, despite everything that the year threw at them.
“My business mantra has always been: ‘Be so good that they can’t ignore you,’” Dean says. “People are always going to look for quality work, and that’s what has been front of our minds this whole time. We were very bold, we went out there with our thought papers, with a very active social media strategy- all of this to keep our clients aware of our work and engaged. That’s what kept us on our toes as creatives, and what kept us going as a business.” But this is not to say Dean and her team at Roar were focusing solely on themselves- it’s a testament to this business that it was very well aware of its place (and significance) in the wider ecosystem, especially as its peers found themselves on a weak footing amid COVID-19.
“It was important to acknowledge that we are in this together,” Dean says. “We offered some of our F&B clients delayed payment plans, for example- as a business, empathy is key, not just towards your staff and yourself, but also towards your clients. In many ways, I really feel the community came together -competitors became friends, clients became family- and I believe this crisis has had a lot of positives.”
Time for introspection: Pallavi Dean, founder and Creative Director, Roar
“My first lesson is to be ‘in the moment’ more often. Most of us live our lives either stuck in the past, or at best, focused on the future, and whilst we hear this all the time, we often find it hard to just be in the present moment. Especially as entrepreneurs and business leaders, the nature of our work revolves around planning for the future and looking forward, but this year has taught me that whilst it is prudent to plan for the future, it is critical to try as much as possible to be in the present moment, and enjoy it.
My second lesson is to not take anything for granted. I’ve always been focused on gratitude in life, and I genuinely believe that it is a beautiful value that enables you to find happiness by focusing on what you have, and being grateful for it. This pandemic showed us how fast and easily our lives can change: we can lose businesses that we worked hard on, we can lose our peace of mind, and we can lose one of our most basic and essential needs, which is our need for freedom: to travel, to move freely, to physically connect, and so on. So, my hope once we go back to the ‘new normal’ post COVID-19 is that we remember all the gifts that we are given in life, and remember that they can be taken at any point- so, never take them for granted.
Finally, this year taught me the importance of slowing down, honoring one’s self and soul, and taking the time to focus on that in a selfish manner. I had spent four years building a business whilst neglecting many aspects that were important for my well-being physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Slowing down is important for all of us, and contrary to what many of us driven entrepreneurs may believe, taking time for yourself makes you more productive. That’s a commitment I made to myself, which is not to neglect what I deem to be important to me personally, beyond my career goals, moving forward.”
Aby Sam Thomas is the Editor in Chief of Entrepreneur Middle East. In this role, Aby is responsible for leading the publication on its editorial front, while also working to build the brand and grow its presence across the MENA region through the development and execution of events and other programming, as well as through representation in conferences, media, etc.
Aby has been working in journalism since 2011, prior to which he was an analyst programmer with Accenture, where he worked with J. P. Morgan Chase's investment banking arm at offices in Mumbai, London, and New York. He holds a Master's Degree in Journalism from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York.