Aslam Sooltangos is the CEO of Gold Hive Tranding LLC, Bee Gold FZCO, and Pulsar Consulting FZE. Being a leader in multiple businesses, the work process of Aslam Sooltangos is very inspiring for all. Further, he was the Runner up in the 2018 MENA Awards for the Emerging CFO category.
He started his professional life in Mauritius and is currently an inspirational leader in the UAE. His company, Gold Hive Trading LLC, is a trading company for precious metals and stones. The company incorporates professionals with over 20+ years of combined experience in the trading, mining, and refining sectors. The company even has a social media presence on LinkedIn.
Learn more about Aslam Sooltangos through our interview below.
What are your goals?
Gold Hive Trading LLC (GH) is a Precious Metals, Precious Stones, and Jewelry company that was incorporated and licensed in 2021 in Dubai. Bee Gold FZCO was incorporated in 2022 in the IFZA Free Zone in UAE. The group comprises top-notch professionals aggregating over 20 years of experience in the precious metals industry, from gold mining, gold trading, logistics, security, aviation, gold refining, and financial services.
As the majority shareholder and CEO, my objective is to do business differently, where disruption is not only a tagline but a reality. The dropping of our FIRST in the world and unique, sustainable NFT collection fully backed by gold on 2nd September 2022 (www.beegoldnft.com), is testimony to that.
What do you feel is the biggest strength of yourself/company right now?
My biggest strength is our belief in our vision and strategy. The organisation’s backbone is the super team I have with me, and we all share the same goals. We also believe that doing things right at the appropriate moment gives an organisation a sound base for success. And lastly, we are very agile and are ready to embrace change rather than resist it. When the chips are down, patience and resilience are also vital to any organisation’s survival. Everything is possible if God wills!
What was the path you/your company took to get to where you are today?
I am a Mauritian national and an FCCA (Fellow of the Association of Chartered and Certified Accountants (UK). After spending my first few professional years in Mauritius (PWC Audit Firm and textiles industry), I joined G4S Plc in 2002 in Ivory Coast. I spent 12 years with them in various Regional Finance Director roles, which meant that I was stationed in various countries, such as Morocco, the UK, and UAE. I was responsible for the North and West Africa Region (13 countries and 20,000 employees) when I departed from G4S in 2014.
That same year I joined a young entrepreneur and was acting as Group CFO. This is where I got into the Precious Metals territory and had experience in various industries. When I joined the group, the revenue was USD 50m, and after a couple of years, we were peaking at +/- USD 500m, a tenfold increase.
In 2018 I won an award as Emerging CFO (Runner Up) for the MENA Region in the UAE, locking horns with CFOs/FDs from Microsoft, Dubai Ports, and other Blue Chip companies.
And finally, in 2021, I decided to depart from the group and create my own company with my current business partner.
Why did you start (or want to be the head of) this company?
I felt I was ready to move from the role of CFO to embrace the entrepreneurship and CEO position after amassing considerable experience (professional and human) throughout my career.
We are here to disrupt the market and adhere to UAE’s vision regarding economic growth, digital economy, ethical business, sustainability, and environmental initiatives.
What have been the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Viewed from various angles, the precious metals industry is a high-risk business – crime, ethics, reputation, and perception. Our aim is to show the industry that transparency, ethics, and doing the right things bring long-term and sustainable success to organisations. We also challenged ourselves and pushed our limits to embrace Web 3 space and Blockchain, something that requires immense technology adaptation.
Give us one word that describes you the best.
What makes you excited about Mondays?
We operate as a family and I value my team members. Monday morning meetings are the best moments of the week for me. It allows me to reconnect with my team to share our ideas, monitor the progress of our various projects, measure our performance, and give traction to our plans. And also to talk about weekend activities, recreation, sports and leisure.
What do you value most about your culture and vision?
Our corporate culture perfectly fits UAE’s culture and vision, i.e., integrity, hard work, commitment, diversity, innovation, agility, belief, sustainability, growth, empathy, and being the ‘NUMBER ONE.
Tell us about a project that forced you to be innovative and creative.
Bee Gold is proud to be the FIRST company in the UAE and MENA Region and the world to launch an NFT, which is UNIQUE in its offering.
“Bee Gold” is the first and one-of-a-kind limited collection of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs), which:
- Is Backed FULLY* by physical gold; and
- Is actively contributing to the preservation and proliferation of bees in the United Arab Emirates to safeguard the ecosystem and environment while fighting climate change.
*After deducting applicable fees
We are taking the traditional gold trading sector to web3 space!!
What are your company’s strategies, and how do they stand unique from your competitors?
We have a clear vision of where we want to be and, most importantly, who we want to be. In that journey, we recognise that change will be a constant as much as honesty and integrity. So bolting our strategy on these sound bases will hopefully bring us greater success. We do things differently. Disruption, agility and empathy are not just words; these are in our DNA. We obviously want to pursue quantum leaps in organic growth and, at a later stage, seek high-end partnerships and collaborations with the best in any industry which encompasses our business activity.
What are the key values which helped you to overcome the roadblocks/challenges in your career?
Separating the good from the bad, making the right decisions, and not fearing temporary downsides are key. Being a firm believer in God and religion’s power is central to how I operate. Equipped with this and my expertise puts me in better shape to ride storms and celebrate success.
Tell us something about any memorable incident in your leadership.
There have been a few over these last 25 years.
One of them was my active role in turning around a loss-making business during my G4S days. We faced accounting fraud, and the business was making a loss of 5% as opposed to a reported EBITA of 12%. The company had to be cleaned up as it was rotten from within. We faced many challenges, pressure, strikes and cash flow strain. But through grit, courage and determination, we managed to turn around the situation within 6 months, and at the same time, we made a bolt acquisition of a security company which helped us consolidate our position as the market leader.
But I would like to mention another incident. When I created my company with my partner, we were sitting down in the office, and I told the team that we should be trading gold on the Blockchain within a year. Funnily enough, after a few weeks, we received an invitation from DMCC to participate in the 2021 Precious Metals Conference, and one of the key addresses was around the use of Blockchain in the industry. The DMCC, during that conference, laid down a marker and started a massive push to promote Crypto and Blockchain. After that conference, we were more than convinced that we should take that route. And today, we are proud to say that we achieved our goal and to top it all, we are the first company in the MENA Region as well as the world to make such an offering.
How do you see the company changing in two years, and how do you see yourself creating that change?
As a CEO, you need to be aware of the environment in which you operate. You must be quick in grasping opportunities and turn downsides into opportunities. We want to take the best out of the traditional precious metals and stones trading but also embrace and actively participate in innovation and digital and technological advancement. We are extremely agile as an organisation. The fact that I have been heavily exposed to at least 10 industries and being geographically involved in businesses in over 30 countries also gives me confidence in my abilities to navigate unchartered waters and drive change and innovation. I do not restrain myself from finding opportunities within one industry.
As an example, I am also exploring other projects in agriculture. If these come to fruition, they will positively impact the lives of tens of thousands of small farmers and, by default, hundreds of thousands of lives in Africa. This will be a long-term project, but we have to start now, and I have already opened talks with the largest commodities exchanges in Africa and UAE.
So in the next few years, I see my company taking the wave of technological advancement and digital economy while being rooted in the physical fundamentals of the trade. I believe in value creation backed by physical commodities and not paper commodities (in their current shape), which create wealth (at times obscure wealth), speculation, distorting long-term perspective of industries, and a promise to deliver on unfeasible things. As an example, today, there is way more gold being traded than what has been extracted physically!
Being an organisation implanted in UAE puts us in the perfect ecosystem to develop our vision, strategies and targets. We are perfectly aligned with what this country wishes to achieve by 2030, i.e. hiking the Digital Economy to +15% of GDP (it was only 4% of GDP in 2021). Even though more taxes are being imposed in UAE (VAT, Corporation Tax in 2023, etc..), it remains an ideal country to carry out business.
Where is your leadership going?
I am a strong believer in teamwork. All ideas from my team are valued and essential. There is a perfectly collaborative approach in my man management. I recognise that an organisation is worthless without a good and solid team. Empowering employees, making them part of decision making, empathy, and using emotional intelligence, guidance, and motivation are key ingredients in reaching our corporate objectives and having a happy, loyal and strong team.
What benefits do your clients get from your company in this competitive world?
If we take our NFT project as an example, we provide a hybrid project which circumvents the risks of losses on NFTs by backing it with gold. There are two major leverages from which the NFT owner can benefit, i.e., favourable movements in gold prices or the intrinsic value of the NFT itself. The project is built around fantastic 3D artwork and is also quite an important initiative around honey bees’ protection.
We have adopted a bee colony made up of 60,000 bees in the UAE. This shall contribute to their proliferation, improve pollination, and by default, help fight climate change. So our clients benefit from our products directly and indirectly through our bee program. To summarise, our NFT is an investment in artwork, precious metals, and the environment. This is why our NFT is unique and extremely attractive.
What are the services/solutions or products offered by your company on par with the current industry standards? Tell us something about your upcoming products or services.
Our next moves will be around stifling our presence in our core business (Precious Metals) and digital economy. We are already preparing the next NFT collection, which will be bigger. We will continue our journey into the Metaverse and other platforms and participate in the transformation of trade into a much more easy and simple experience and, at the same time, safe and secure (e.g. Blockchain).
My team and I constantly monitor all AML and KYC regulations and make sure that we strictly abide by them.
We are also venturing into a small-scale gold mining venture in West Africa. Prospection is ongoing, and we are hopeful to kick start after Q3 2022. We shall then develop this activity further and move to a larger-scale mining operation in 2023.
We are also making good strides in the link-ups in the agriculture sector between Africa and UAE. Our extensive experience and network in these geographies are key success factors.
Connect with Aslam Sooltangos on LinkedIn.