From a company driver to CEO of own firm

Going to madrasa and learning Arabic language opened up life-changing opportunities for Ali Velamulli. His life story is of a person who was once a company driver in Abu Dhabi but shifted gears and took the right turns to success. Today he is the CEO of Mr Clean property management.

Velamulli’s UAE journey started in 1988. He completed 29 years in the country this month.

“I first landed in Ajman, which had many people from my native place of Pattambi from Kerala’s Palakkad district. Everyone suggested me to get a driving licence and find a job in sales department. I made getting driving licence my dream. Meanwhile, I used to do odd jobs.”

After getting the licence, he moved to Al Ain to join a firm where his elder brother was working.

“Then I got married. I used to work for six months and spend the rest in Kerala. I would easily get work because of my driving licence.”

It was the government amnesty of 1996 that turned things for Velamulli.

“I had to move from a private visa to one under a local sponsor. Luckily, through a friend, I came to know about an opening and joined Private Property Management Establishment as a driver.” And he soon got promoted to the post of public relations officer.

“During an evening break, I was reading an Arabic newspaper. My boss noticed it and asked what I was up to. He was surprised when I told that I could read and write Arabic. He scolded me for not putting Arabic language proficiency in my resume. The next thing was promotion as the PRO. My madrasa days helped.”

With the range of personal contacts he had developed in his job, Velamulli went on to test waters with business venture.

“In 2011, I started Mr Clean dry cleaning. It was an established brand and I acquired it from a local. I paid about Dh1 million for the brand name and assets came for another Dh2 million. I sold my property back home to start this business. I started with 10 shops and now it’s 13, with 100 staff.” He has recently entered into car wash business too.

While on the job, he completed his graduation in 1999 and later joined a 28-month language course with British Council. Even at 47, he has registered for Global MBA course. “Learning is a life-long process.”

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