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Welcome to another edition of “What’s Neue from 9 to 5”.

Seated across from me at Roasted Sip Coffee Roasters in Jerudong one afternoon was Hitesh R. Bhawnani (@tesh333), the Managing Director of YMRM Group.

Hitesh was casually sipping on a cup of ‘Kalita Pour Over’ served with a single spherical ice ball as I bombarded a slew of questions about his personal life. And of course, I could not help but throw in a few quirky ones as well.

Throughout the interview, the 28-year-old exuded a calm demeanor and spoke with a gentle but authoritative voice. 

In between interviews, Hitesh would share with me positive life lessons he learned from his father, Mr Ramesh J Bhawnani, the Founder & Chairman of YMRM Group (@ymrmbrunei). His father was just 17 years old when he first stepped foot onto Brunei Darussalam in 1982.

Mr Ramesh had humble beginnings. He started off as a sales assistant selling carpets and after learning the ropes and making good connections over the years, he started his own business in 1986, which initially sold watches and electronics at Teck Guan Plaza. And in time, he soon ventured into the textile industry.

What has made Galleria YMRM what it is today started with Mr Ramesh himself who firmly believes in the saying – “Your work is your worship”. 

At the age of 19, Hitesh would later follow in his father’s footsteps soon after completing his ‘O’ Level studies.

Hitesh recalls the moment when his father had a heart-to-heart conversation with him about the future.

Among the many lessons that Hitesh’s father imparted to him was that if you’re going to learn, you have got to learn from the bottom.

“After all, what is learning from the top? When you’re down there, that’s where you learn the real stuff,” Mr Ramesh would say.

At the end of the day, experience would beat qualifications (diplomas, degrees, etc) any day.

This was probably why Mr Ramesh told Hitesh, who was 19 at the time, “I envision you to be the next leader of my company and I’m going to build you from scratch.”

Hitesh told Neue that he can still vividly remember the early days when his father instructed him to start off by sweeping the floors in front of over 50 people at his father’s office in Tungku Link.

“My father reckons that if he wasn’t that strict with me back then, I wouldn’t be the man that I am today … or who he is today,” Hitesh said.

Without further ado, let’s see how he tackles this week’s #Neue9to5 questions.

The First 9 Questions

1. YMRM is known for its “Crazy Sale”. Can you tell us how this idea came into fruition? 

It all started with an idea first conceived by my father, Mr Ramesh J Bhawnani, the Founder & Chairman of YMRM Group back in 2007.

It was totally random. He walked into the meeting room and said, “I want something crazy. I would like like a crazy sale!”

The term ‘crazy sale’ was so catchy that it was one of the first few things we wrote on the board that fateful day.

My father continued, “I would like to come up with offers that the people would like. I want something that could beat Black Friday.”

During the brain-storming sessions, I added onto the discussion by saying, “Black Friday … but Brunei style!”

At the time, I was not the Managing Director yet, as I was still under what my father would term “the chairman’s probation”.

And that was how the ‘Crazy Sale’ that we have all come to know was born.

I can’t believe that it has been 12 years since we first launched the ‘Crazy Sale’. Time certainly does fly by!

2. Tell us about a time when you last said to yourself, “Wow! Just wow!”

Without a doubt, it would have to be a scenic helicopter flight towards the famous Swiss Alps. I recently shared this experience with both my dad and mom.

3. There is a saying that goes – “I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments.” What wisdom did your father give you when you were much younger?

Bro … what I’m about to tell you is about to go viral. These words that I’m sharing are not in textbooks, but rather these are the words of my father, Mr Ramesh.

“I would rather hop on a bicycle to get from Point ‘A’ to Point ‘B’, rather than having big cars that are under bank loans. You must always act your wage. Money saved is money earned.”

“Always think about saving in different ways. It could start from anything. If you aren’t saving then you are a failure in my books.”

“Right now your friends are at a nightclub. But what you are about to show them in a few years from now is something they’re never going to see in their lifetime.”

4. Are you a sunrise or sunset kinda person?

I’m definitely a sunset guy. As the sun sets, I’d look back at my whole day and think about all the things I’ve achieved and how certain things could have been done better.

I make it a point to stop working whenever the sun sets around 6pm.

In fact, I’d only make a maximum of 3 important decisions in a day.

You cannot mindlessly keep saying, “I’ll do it … I’ll do it … I’ll do it.” A lot of people tend to fall into this trap.

Why am I saying this? Well, it’s because you need to be fresh when you make your next move.

At the end of the day, it’s all about taking calculated risks in life.

When you aimlessly rush into things, there could be dire consequences.

5. There seems to be growing interest in getting fit in Brunei. That said, what are some of your favourite workouts?My go-to workout would have to be the ones that you can expect from @Primal_Tactical. You know, army-style training!

Tactical training is physical training to survive in combat, it is a complete system of general fitness that develops and strengthens the entire body.

In fact, this is something that His Royal Highness Prince ‘Abdul Mateen (@tmski) would do.

I strongly believe that it’s important for me to have my inspiration near me. That said, my role model is none other than @tmski who I highly regard as Brunei’s youth icon.

On a side note, I’d like to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt thanks to my coach, Alim Roslan (pictured below).Honestly, if you’re looking to get real results, you can always count on Alim. Not only has he helped me lose a lot of weight, but he’s also helped condition my mind to maintain self discipline in order to achieve life goals outside of the gym.

Weight training also helps with mind development. And for this, I’d like to say ‘Thank You’ to my coach for all that he’s done for me.

6. What are some of your favourite fight classes in Brunei?

I go to @nakmuayfitnessbn that’s run by a Bruneian nicknamed ‘Feez’. He’s an amazing chap who has been training me hard in boxing and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA).

7. If 19-year-old you were to meet the man that you have become today, what message would 28-year-old give him?

Always listen to your heart because the brain can cheat you sometimes.

8. What 2 stories on Neue’s website did you enjoy reading?

Firstly, it would have to be the Michael Jackson story. Look, MJ was everyone’s role model, especially when it comes to pop music. Even to this day, people still love him … he’s timeless.

Click on the photo to read Neue’s past article – “Michael Jackson In Brunei – But For How Much Longer?”

Another story that I found inspiring was the ‘9 to 5’ interview with Pei. I like how she’s balancing life. Between her studies and everything else, she’s doing what she loves … that’s what life SHOULD be!

Click on the photo to read Neue’s past article – “9 To 5: What’s Neue With Pei”

9. What would you like to say to all our Neue readers?

In the generation of 2019, it’s easy to be fake than real. #IamREAL

Just be REAL … be YOU!

The Last 5 Questions

1. Tell us something that people may find surprising about you. 

I enjoy reading up on successful entrepreneurs, especially those who came up without schooling.

2. Who would you rather have as a bodyguard? Ip Man or John Wick? And if the two were to battle it out who do you think would win?

(Source: GIPHY)

Hands down … it would be John Wick. Why? Because the character ‘John Wick’ itself is so Keanu Reeves!

Look man! Keanu has put his real-life training into that movie. As you can probably tell, I’m a huge fan of Keanu. He’s done everything REAL for this movie … like imagine a bull coming at you! It’s exactly like that!

Click on the photo to check out Neue’s past article – “Your Mobile Isn’t As Cool As Ip Man’s Gold One”

3. What’s your go-to stress-relief music?

Chill techno in the evenings.

4. There’s no doubt about it, at the end of the day, people do love the finer things in life. What’s the first thing that pops to mind after reading this?

I absolutely love Avantist watches, particularly this new one – the Avantist La Majesté Tourbillon AV002 ‘Commando’.

Picture this … Swiss Made Sapphire case in Titanium. Features an in-house manual 19-jewel tourbillon movement with a 72-hour power reserve. It’s a one-of-a-kind unique piece. Case-body machined from a single solid block of sapphire crystal. Check out the photo below!

5. If you were a superhero, what’s the first thing you would do?

I love this question!! Rather than saying that I’ll fly around the world to fight evildoers, I’d honestly do something more down to Earth.

Do you know what that would be?

I’ll tell you … it would be to ensure that nobody on this Earth goes to bed hungry.

See you in the next #Neue9to5

We here at Neue believe that every person out there has a story to tell.

Do you know someone who’d be great for the next interview? Get in touch with Neue by sending an e-mail here or via Facebook or Instagram.