What perspective does a successful leader need to have to meet today’s challenges and prepare the business for the future? At the 8th edition of the RLC MENA Summit, in Riyadh, Mohamad Mourad, MD & CEO of Fawaz Alhokair Group, discussed this matter with Nisreen Shocair, CEO Middle East at Yoox-Net-A-Porter Group.
The crux of leadership
He characteristically said that “You can have lots of ideas. You can sit in a room for a day and come up with 15 nice ideas. It is not about that. It is about execution”. According to Mr. Mourad in order to have a successful leadership you need to have a clear perspective on the future version of what you are today. You need to build on what you’re good at, we can’t be good at everything.
Then it requires that ability to gather the whole team around this single idea and single strategy and keep them focused on the top three or five things that they need to be doing. And to relentlessly stay on the same lane, despite all the temptations, because this country is going through an amazing transformation. There will be opportunities everywhere.
Raising the bar
Regarding the workforce, he added that even if your workforce doesn’t have the capabilities, if they have the spirit to change and to grow, they’re even better than those out there who have the capability; they have the hunger and they want to learn and they want to change. It’s a naive way to think that to just replace people will solve the problem. It’s really about setting the bar higher for everyone, including top management.
Moreover, he mentioned his vision for the company, and he believes that “You do not want to be everything for everyone, you want to be the future version of what you are today, which is the leading consumer retail player”. This means that you work hard and fine tune the details that will take you to the next level.
Successful leadership requires to relentlessly stay on the same lane, despite all the temptations, because this country is going through an amazing transformation. There will be opportunities everywhere
From country to region
Do we want to be Saudi, or do we want to be MENA? Big question. Mr. Mourad said “I strongly believe that we will be MENA. Being a Saudi-only player worked until 2022. I don’t know if it’s going to work in 2030 or 2050”. There’s so much opportunity in the MENA region and as Mrs. Shocair added, we see businesses in Egypt, for example, that are 2 to 3 years old and who already are getting massive investments from big corporations and big private equity partners in the US and Japan and others.
She emphasized the fact that “we want to be the ones investing in them, not someone from another continent”. Mr. Mourad said that we have to set the bar high and try as a region to reach that. We may not be where America is but we have the opportunities and capabilities to grow exponentially.
Partnerships of the future
Last but not least, he noted that providing a platform to grow in a region that your partners don’t understand is not a workable solution. Maybe it’s more efficient for our partners to grow through us, even if this entails sharing their gains. We need to think forward about partnerships in 2050, about the mall of the future, about the business model of the future. And we need to start building it now. It’s not going to be built overnight it might take ten years before it happens.