Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Catching Up With Naveed Siddiqui ’92

Naveed Siddiqui is founder and CEO of Capitas Group International (CGI ), an advisory and management firm in Saudi Arabia that provides services to public and private sector institutions. CGI develops business platforms that are of strategic importance to the housing and small and medium enterprise sectors. Siddiqui graduated from Hofstra in1992 with a degree in finance. After working in numerous financial services positions and in the banking sector, he founded his own firm.

What is most rewarding about founding
and being the CEO of a flourishing
company like CGI ?
Capitas Group was established to leverage the true American spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation in global markets. What differentiates Capitas is that we bridge the American approach with the unique demands of the strategic international markets in which we operate. The result is powerful because we see both social and economic impact through our work. For example, when we bring home finance solutions pioneered in the United States but customized to international demands through alternative and Islamic solutions, we help make home ownership a reality in markets where the overwhelming majority have not achieved the goal of home ownership. That helps spread wealth and creates the foundation for a vibrant consumer class. The true reward is to see the fruits of our entrepreneurial spirit create real social and economic impact.

What made you decide to start a

company like this?
I realized that working for corporate America was too limiting and structured. Global business opportunities demand an unleashing of “out of the box” thinking and ideas. I learned some critical things from corporate America. My corporate training taught me to evaluate risk, organize thoughts and execute strategies. Then I realized I had to use that experience to avail my own opportunities. That has made all the difference. In the end, the key lesson is not how big an opportunity is but how a small opportunity can become big.

What are your future plans for CGI ?
My goal is for CGI to become one of the key providers of creative financial solutions for OIC [Organisation of the Islamic Conference] markets. Specifically, we’re targeting their housing and SME [small and medium enterprise] sectors through wellorchestrated private and public partnerships. CGI will build, operate and deliver the financial solutions that contribute to the socioeconomic growth of these emerging markets.

What are some memories you have
of Hofstra?
I most remember the friends I made at Hofstra – who today are my business partners, colleagues and friends with whom I continuously discuss ideas. These have become lifelong friendships.

What advice would you give to current
From my perspective, the biggest difference between a successful entrepreneur and a businessman is that an entrepreneur thinks globally, assesses opportunities personally and learns to reflect on his own gut feeling. My advice is to trust your gut.


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