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Sonal Vara-Parmar, founder IAM Entertainment

Female, Person, Human
Sonal Vara-Parmar, founder IAM Entertainment

What does your company do? 

Based in Dubai, IAM works at the forefront of events and live shows across the Middle East, bringing together the biggest stars on the planet. 

What do you look for when hiring talent? 

We look for dynamic creators – innovative and versatile, trustworthy individuals willing to go the extra mile to deliver excellence. We prefer street smarts to book smarts. 

What counts for more – luck or hard work?   

Roman philosopher Seneca once said, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity”. I live by this mantra – the only way you can prepare is through hard work and focus. 

What was your biggest ‘lucky’ moment?  

On a business note, meeting my mentor Venus Brown who was the president of Sony BMG and producer for Justin Timberlake, The Black Eye Peas, Bruno Mars, and many others.

But, on a personal note, it was meeting my now-husband and business partner Ash, who added the rock to my roll.

Person, Human, Duet
IAM is behind everything from Mariah Carey at Dubai Expo to the grand opening of the Atlantis hotel

What one thing do you wish you’d done differently?   

I don’t believe in regrets. I’d rather use life experiences as lessons to make the next chapter bigger and better. 

If you could rule the world for a day, what three things would you change?   

  1. Eliminate racism
  2. Abolish child labour. I never miss an opportunity to plug I-India, a charity working hard to rescue street children and victims of child labour in India
  3. Change the mindset of people to look after our planet and future generations 

What three factors do entrepreneurs misjudge about the Gulf market?

  1. The cup does not runneth over … There is not an endless pot of gold to chase after
  2. People assume we are a party, beach-loving glamourous nation, rather than actually being a hub for real business. We work longer hours, and often seven days, resulting in all these unicorns you see
  3. That it’s easy to start a business, and it is, but it’s harder to sustain it due to the increasing costs of living, so you have to be prepared to want to constantly grow the business 

Dream mentor?

I don’t think Venus would mind if I said Oprah. She really has curated and manifested the life she leads.