A Conversation With Nitin Bhatnagar on Chasing Professional Milestones While Balancing Personal Obligations

Nitin Bhatnagar is the co-founder of Ellington Group –  a premiere real estate development company operating out of Dubai. After graduating from the University of Maryland, Nitin worked for the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi in New Delhi, where he prepared reports on the financial creditworthiness of Indo-Japanese joint venture companies.

Wanting to pursue more professional opportunities, he worked in executive positions for several industry leading banks including the Standard Chartered Bank of India and the ABN Amro Bank, where he served as Vice President and Head of Sales of their Dubai office. 

With over twenty years of experience in financial services, Nitin and his team have a portfolio of eighteen residential projects. As an ambitious entrepreneur, he hopes to expand his company to the global market. 

Why did you decide to create your own business?

Ellington Properties came to life when my partners and I sat together and decided there was a gap in the marketplace. We noticed that quality apartments were very high in price, and those that were affordable, were often unliveable. We want to create value. This meant developing beautiful, modern living spaces that were also cost-efficient.

As for Canarax Trading, it was based on my investment banking experience where I wanted to be part of certain industries that made it to the banking world, so I started a trading and manufacturing business for metals and other materials.

What do you love most about the industry you are in?

How dynamic the real estate industry is and how it is linked to government activities. I just love how every day is a different day and you always must be on your toes to get the most out of the market and get more share of wallet in the industry.

The industry also gives you a great opportunity to meet various types of people and get acquainted with people from other industries who can help you expand by applying cross industry best practices.

How do you motivate others?

I constantly look for reasons to compliment people for what they do as it also helps bring out the best in people. I love people telling me I am good at doing something and it makes me want to prove myself even more to that person so why not make others feel the same way and want to always expand their horizon and do more for themselves which ultimately helps in expanding our business as well.

How has your company grown from its early days to now?

Ellington Properties was founded in 2014 with one project being designed and when the project was handed over in 2017, the company was able to sell the other three projects in design and from there our portfolio has grown to eighteen projects under various stages of development, design, and completion while we were able to secure over thirty awards for our design led architecture and interiors.

How do you maintain a solid work life balance?

My partners and I believe in the quote “Work hard play hard” – it is very important to balance your work life but also more important to enjoy your personal life whether it is with family or friends. It helps energize you for your next day at work and gives you a goal to work harder towards so you can provide a better lifestyle for your loved ones.

What traits do you possess that makes a successful leader?

Macro management – let people excel in their own way and let only results speak for them and not how they do it. I believe in what people have to offer but always communicate the goals the company needs to achieve and the high-level milestones to achieving it. Then I let them do what they are best at to achieve it while knowing that I am always there for them when they need support or advice.

Outside of work, what defines you as a person?

I am a people person, and I am a human being.

As professional as I can be in the office but at the end of the day, I am a human and I believe that everyone working with us are not just numbers, so I always like to chat with different people and get to know them better. 

What trends in your industry excite you?

Innovation and finding solutions for gaps in the market is what excites me the most.

Where do you see you and your company in 5 years?

I will talk about where I see Ellington Properties and Canarax Trading in the next 5 years since I believe that with the company growth, I will learn a lot of new things from our teams and the market trends. I see Ellington Properties development in markets outside of Dubai and especially expanding their reach to London, Canada and maybe one or two eastern European countries. I see the group going into other business sectors to support our growth like contracting, leasing and brokerage, fund management for build to lease projects and more. I see Canarax trading owning more mines across the world and completing our Silicon Plant in Kazakhstan and becoming one of the top player in the metal manufacturing and trading business. 

Explain the proudest day of your professional life.

Everyday Ellington Properties or Canarax Trading signs a new joint venture or buys a new land or buys a mine as it only shows the strength of the organization and that all of us are doing the right thing hence our opportunities are getting bigger by the day.