Select Page

THREE THINGS YOU CAN DO FOR BETTER DIVERSITY

THREE THINGS WE NEED TO DO FOR BETTER DIVERSITY

 

We do not need a bunch of men or women pontificating about diversity. We need action.

Tip 1

If you’re speaking at a conference, ensure at least 30% of your fellow speakers are women. But more than that, make sure everyone speaking is credible and brings something interesting to the table. i.e. no tokenism. That doesn’t mean they have to be the CEO of a company that everyone knows. A different way of looking at things is great. The world needs all the fresh perspectives it can get!

 

Tip 2

Stop being lazy!

 

Great women exist, but it might take some work to find them. This is further exacerbated by the ‘noise’ of others and wrong metrics. For instance, just because someone has lots of followers on social media does not mean they are subject matter experts. It just might be a reflection of their ability to create and promote content (both of which can be outsourced). This is eclipsing great people. Dig deeper, get curious and shine a light into hidden crevices.

 

Tip 3

Leaders vs People in Positions of Power

 

This is a game changer! The word ‘leader’ is banded around to cover some of the most irresponsible and short-sighted humans on this
planet. In organisations, the word ‘leader’ is sometimes attached to those who navigated the corporate matrix to rise to the top. These are not examples of leaders. They are examples of people in positions of power. We must distinguish between the two.

 

Real leaders are:

 

  • Not necessarily the loudest in the room or the most gregarious
  • Considered and considerate
  • Reflective and think about the world around them beyond tomorrow
  • Collaborative and work beyond silos
  • Responsible with the discipline to think through potential consequences and seek better solutions
  • Able to navigate complexity and uncertainty
  • Human!

This needs to be our standard if we are to level the playing field for people from all cultures, genders, backgrounds and creeds.

 

 

N.B. There is a lot more complexity to this issue. If you’d like to know more, please send me a note, and I’d be happy to share insights, nuances and strategies.

3 SKILLS NEEDED TO HACK HYPE IN TECH INVESTING

3 SKILLS NEEDED TO HACK HYPE IN TECH INVESTING

3 SKILLS TO HACK THE HYPE IN TECH INVESTING   Technology can help us tackle some meaningful problems. But it's the thinking and capabilities of the investors that will determine which will see the light of day. I have seen too many 'bad' projects get funded by...

COMPANY CULTURE STARTS WITH YOU

COMPANY CULTURE STARTS WITH YOU

Ask a person the reason they love to travel, and often they say to experience different cultures. Human beings seem to be intrigued by the social norms and ways of living of their fellow man in different cities and villages around the world. Having the experience and...

WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP – A MIDDLE EASTERN PERSPECTIVE

WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP – A MIDDLE EASTERN PERSPECTIVE

  There is a general look of surprise, even bewilderment when people hear I love working in the Middle East, for the simple reason that I’m a woman. I understand how there is a perception that women are not respected or highly regarded in the Middle East,...

Get in Touch

By pressing send, you agree to us getting in touch with you.

You can unsubscribe at any time. More about our Privacy Policy here.

ALL INFORMATION YOU SHARE IS CONFIDENTIAL.

WHY INTENTIONS & MOTIVATIONS IN TECH MATTER

WHY INTENTIONS & MOTIVATIONS IN TECH MATTER

Tech in the right hands can do some great good. One of the best examples of this is Dr Patrick Meier. I first met Patrick around 2012 when he was giving a lecture at Imperial College on the work he was doing to improve the response time of humanitarian aid. One of the cases he shared was looking at trends in social media usage in Indonesia. If a disaster hits and the pattern of usage is lower than usual, they could infer there was no power, and hence, the area badly hit and requires urgent assistance. His book Digital Humanitarians, takes you through an amazing story of a dedicated global network of new humanitarians are using mobile technologies, computer applications, and vast quantities of data to make a huge difference.

SENTIMENT ANALYSIS

It was through Patrick that I connected the dots on how the same technology could be used to pick up sentiment, and where I realised it’s the character, thinking and intention of the people behind the technology that are the real game changers. Welcome to the world of sentiment analysis.

Sentiment analysis, also known as opinion mining, uses new technologies and algorithms to collect and analyse opinions about a product, service, or even an entire brand. It’s not just opinions, though—it’s also all the attitudes and emotions expressed with each mention online. In short, sentiment analysis seeks to highlight what people mean, not just what they say. Politicians have used sentiment analysis to gauge public opinion to policy announcements and campaign messages.

It’s the character, thinking and intention of the people behind the technology that are the real game changers.

To understand the power of this, imagine two conversations with two different people. You feel one of them gets you, really understands what you’re saying and what you mean, even who you truly are. The other comes across as cold, distant, uninterested, metallic. Which one will you gravitate to? The bets are on the former. But here’s the snag – humans do this very well, only they’re in two camps: the empaths – the highly intuitive individuals with heightened listening skills; and the manipulators and sociopaths – brilliant at telling you what you want to hear. The difference is the intention – the empaths have your interests at heart, the manipulators will tell you anything you want to hear but for their gain. What people don’t realise is most of us have interacted with a sociopath without realising it. It would likely have been a positive interaction, and they are not recognised as a sociopath or manipulator until they’re caught.

So why am I telling you all this? Technologists out there have realised we have been posting our thoughts in the ether. In some cases, they have used it to sell us more stuff, in other instances to swing elections. I have come across applications that give you the specific phrases to use with someone you want to win over, language patterns that could only have been extracted from the messaging facility of a given platform. Other applications help position you as an influencer in your domain by feeding you what you should say, what you should post. There is a fine line between influence and manipulation. If these applications are anything to go by, we’ve crossed it. Of course, technology also puts tools in people’s hands, to gain access to information. But people aren’t using it enough! Whether that’s an online search to do some fact-finding on people or picking up the phone to verify someone’s claims, we have plenty of tools at our disposal not to get duped. I would like:

  • To see more people using technology wisely and develop greater discernment
  • For investors to stop backing stuff that has the power to harm humanity
  • For entrepreneurs, innovators and everyone else in the ecosystem to temper greed

Photo credit © Can Stock Photo / rolffimages

WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP – A MIDDLE EASTERN PERSPECTIVE

WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP – A MIDDLE EASTERN PERSPECTIVE

  There is a general look of surprise, even bewilderment when people hear I love working in the Middle East, for the simple reason that I’m a woman. I understand how there is a perception that women are not respected or highly regarded in the Middle East,...

STEWARDSHIP, EDUCATION AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP

STEWARDSHIP, EDUCATION AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP

  Family wealth fails to make it beyond the third generation in 90 per cent of cases. This failure isn't due to poor investment decisions, but rather a lack of cohesion and communication between family members, where the family fragments, and with it the wealth....

MORAL COURAGE AND CORPORATE CULTURE

MORAL COURAGE AND CORPORATE CULTURE

It is not in calm seas that our character and integrity are tested but in times of crisis. It is at these times that mistakes are likely to happen. When people think of ethics and social responsibility in the corporate context, they perceive it as a simple matter of...

GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR BOARD

GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR BOARD

While internal boardroom politics are the bane of many an executive’s existence, getting your board members working in the same direction can be a vital step towards a successful CEO tenure. Corporate governance has brought with it greater scrutiny of the board, its...

VALUES AND GUIDING PRINCIPLES

VALUES AND GUIDING PRINCIPLES

We have all seen a myriad of company websites touting a list of values they stand for: Respect, Integrity, Communication and Excellence; Integrity and honesty in everything we do; High performance and great behaviours driving exceptional rewards; Respect, trust and...

WILL YOU CHOOSE TO MATTER?

WILL YOU CHOOSE TO MATTER?

There is a great talk and initiative by Angela Maiers entitled “You Matter”, and how these two words could positively impact our lives. It really puts into perspective and simplicity the manner in which we conduct ourselves in our daily interactions, with great...

3 SKILLS NEEDED TO HACK HYPE IN TECH INVESTING

3 SKILLS TO HACK THE HYPE IN TECH INVESTING

 

Technology can help us tackle some meaningful problems. But it’s the thinking and capabilities of the investors that will determine which will see the light of day. I have seen too many ‘bad’ projects get funded by supposedly sophisticated investors, burning their cash. This impacts the available capital for worthy founders and promising applications of technology. We need to know what to look for and how to avoid FOMO (fear of missing out).

Here’s a case in point.

Over a glass of bubbly, someone tried to convince me to invest in a blockchain project.

“There’s a great opportunity using blockchain technology in electricity.”

So, I asked how it works.

His reply? “I’m not sure, but it’s the same technology behind bitcoin, and a lot of people have made money out of bitcoin. Also, Branson, Gates and Bezos have invested $1billion in it.”

Brilliant! Yes, please take a lot of our money to invest in something you have zero clue about.

A significant injection of discernment, diligence and better decision-making are long overdue.

DISCERNMENT

Pitches are great, but it’s how people answer questions that matter. It is probably a good idea to not put your money where the promoter can’t explain it and uses other people’s names to justify you joining the bandwagon.

Pitches are great, but it’s how people answer questions that matter.

DILIGENCE

Is it true? The pandemic of fake news shows how people love to share information without fact-checking. So, have Branson, Gates and Bezos invested $1billion in blockchain for energy? No – they are part of a $1 billion fund (Breakthrough Energy Ventures) investing in clean energy technologies, not specifically blockchain technology in energy.

DECISION-MAKING

There are many potential winners out there – but there are also a significant number of potential losers. The furore of hype is often hard to resist and, like any virus, a vaccine is needed. A useful resource is a checklist highlighting the elements that matter to you. Taking a leaf out of one of the greatest investors of all time – Warren Buffet – one of the principles should be ‘do I understand it’. If you don’t, seek out more information. If it still makes no sense, it might be worth staying away.

Please keep your wits about you while others are losing theirs, and let’s make sure we’re funding innovators worth backing.

 

 

N.B. There is a lot more complexity to this issue. If you’d like to know more, please send me a note, and I’d be happy to share insights, nuances and strategies.

 

 

Rethinking Startup Success

We often hear ‘it’s a great company, they’ve raised $x’. This is the wrong metric, and recent disasters (e.g. WeWork, Uber and Theranos) have confirmed this. Thought it was time to peel back the layers on what we should be looking at. Here’s the article featured in Entrepreneur Middle East. read more

Discussion on AI & Intellectual Property

A recent article in Technology Review posed the question of whether AI can be an inventor. In principle, it’s a debate around IP law and whether AI can own ideas it generates. Check out the debate generated on LinkedIn. It’s worth a read. Additional views always welcome. read more

State of MENA Startups 2019

Following on from the recent report on the startup scene in the MENA Region (well done to MAGNiTT and 500 Startups for putting this together), here we peel back the layers on some of the issues raised. read more

Get in Touch






By pressing send, you agree to us getting in touch with you.

You can unsubscribe at any time. More about our Privacy Policy here.

ALL INFORMATION YOU SHARE IS CONFIDENTIAL.

THE STORY BEHIND AMANI™

During my time in Executive Search, I had the privilege of meeting and interviewing brilliant people every day. Amidst a ‘war for talent’, I didn’t experience a shortage of talent. What I found was a shortage of great companies that deserved great talent.

I didn’t appreciate the urgent need to address this until I received a link to water poverty – water poverty caused by a privatisation deal, where the tariffs set were too high for some members of the community to afford, resulting in the water supply being cut off. One of the consequences that captured me was young girls being bullied and teased at school for being dirty.

The irony was that the company leading the transaction had a link on their website to CSR (corporate social responsibility).

How can a company’s business practices cause harm, but they have a department ‘to do good’?

Many companies have compelling mission statements, well-articulated values and CSR initiatives. But what truly matters is what a company and its people do in practice.

It got me thinking about the people leading the transaction and the company’s strategy and modus operandi. Having interviewed many Investment Bankers, I knew that none of the ones I helped my clients hire would ever have been so short-sighted, so irresponsible. Moreover, my clients would never have accepted them.

So what was creating this? How was business impacting society? How can we improve things?

I explored water poverty – what’s causing it, who it’s impacting and what needs to be done to solve it. I was saddened by what I found, from questionable policies and poor principles to bad practices, misaligned performance metrics and poor decisions. The crux of it all? People and organisations – their collective mindset and motivations, their actions and inactions.

But I also found some great companies with incredible people doing a lot of good. These weren’t charities. They were profitable commercial entities (including banks). I studied these companies and profiled their people. The findings were extraordinary. These companies and their people gelled and excelled. They were principled and profitable. They are companies worth emulating and are the cornerstone of the AMANI™ protocol.

Learn more about AMANI™ and how it can help you be your best – in your life, in your business and in the world at large.

Get in Touch














By pressing send, you agree to us getting in touch with you.
You can unsubscribe at any time. More about our Privacy Policy here. ALL INFORMATION YOU SHARE IS CONFIDENTIAL.

By pressing send, you agree to us getting in touch with you. You can unsubscribe at any time. More about our Privacy Policy here. ALL INFORMATION YOU SHARE IS CONFIDENTIAL.

COMPANY CULTURE STARTS WITH YOU

Ask a person the reason they love to travel, and often they say to experience different cultures. Human beings seem to be intrigued by the social norms and ways of living of their fellow man in different cities and villages around the world. Having the experience and exposure to other cultures somehow adds colour to our own lives, a certain richness.

What we are less aware of perhaps are the unique cultures we create in these environments called workplaces. Just as a travel brochure is not the same as visiting a country, company culture is not what it says in a company handbook or website. It is the experience.

But how can we translate something seemingly ethereal into something more tangible and why is it even necessary?

The ‘spirit’ of a company

Just as any culture around the world is formed over time through traditions, cultural norms, societal needs, forms of communication, behaviours and attitudes, so too is corporate culture.

Through a combination of day-to-day interactions, we create the environments we work in, and those environments come with particular qualities regarding desired and accepted behaviours, attitudes, principles and modes of communication.

There is one main difference though – I am not aware of any society in the world that set out to create a particular culture intentionally, consciously. Instead, the culture morphed through the ages. It could be said some companies morphed in the same way, directed mainly through the attitude and conduct of the board, leaders and managers, and the behaviours that were tolerated.

But if you stop to think about it for a moment, corporate culture gives us a fantastic opportunity. Through our actions, we can shape and form a mini-society that lends itself to our highest ideals. We can enable others to step up to the plate and be their best. We can focus on and achieve a unified purpose and direction.

And quite scary in the wrong hands.

So how do we get it right?

Setting the Tone

If you want to establish the ‘right’ culture – start with yourself. Whether you are aware of it or not, your character, your conduct, value system and manner of treating others is akin to a metronome, the timekeeping device used in music to keep everyone in sync. So ask yourself some key questions:

Who are you, what do you stand for, what drives you? How do you treat others? Are you a person of your word? Can you be trusted? How do you come across – friendly, approachable, aloof, firm but fair?

How do you communicate, what is your preference – formal, structured, agenda-led, walk around the floor? How do people interact with you and react to you?

What is your business ethos and how does it translate into practice?

Your people

The people you surround yourself with and the manner in which you interact with them speaks volumes. If for instance, you are smart enough (and humble enough) to realise that you are not great at everything and surround yourself with people who are ‘better’ than you, you have set the scene for greatness. That is of course if you also create the environment for them to speak their mind and you are open-minded enough to listen.

Measuring success

What does success look like for you and your company? Is it just about profit at all costs? What milestones do you measure and reward? Does the manner in which people reach objectives matter and are they taken into account? Are certain behaviours tolerated, just as long as there are results?

Aligning vision with practice

A lofty and noble vision is all well and good, but it’s what you do in practice that counts.

Do not underestimate the impact that your actions and conduct have in setting the standards and the cultural tone. So ask yourself: Do you want to create an environment in which compromising behaviours are tolerated in the name of profit? Or, do you want to generate an environment that nurtures, develops and engages competence and character, to build great companies that add value to more than just their profit margins?

 

As featured in WorkLab

Rethinking Startup Success

We often hear ‘it’s a great company, they’ve raised $x’. This is the wrong metric, and recent disasters (e.g. WeWork, Uber and Theranos) have confirmed this. Thought it was time to peel back the layers on what we should be looking at. Here’s the article featured in Entrepreneur Middle East. read more

Discussion on AI & Intellectual Property

A recent article in Technology Review posed the question of whether AI can be an inventor. In principle, it’s a debate around IP law and whether AI can own ideas it generates. Check out the debate generated on LinkedIn. It’s worth a read. Additional views always welcome. read more

State of MENA Startups 2019

Following on from the recent report on the startup scene in the MENA Region (well done to MAGNiTT and 500 Startups for putting this together), here we peel back the layers on some of the issues raised. read more

WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP – A MIDDLE EASTERN PERSPECTIVE

There is a general look of surprise, even bewilderment when people hear I love working in the Middle East, for the simple reason that I’m a woman.

I understand how there is a perception that women are not respected or highly regarded in the Middle East, therefore making it difficult to fathom how a woman could have a successful business. However, in my experience, there is a chasm between perception and reality, especially since the traits that seem to be more abundant amongst women, such as insight, intuition and inclusion, seem to be trusted and appreciated in the Middle East, enabling us to not only contribute but also play our role in business.

What I find strange and perplexing is some of the rhetoric around women and leadership. A case in point is an article that said 15% of Senior Leadership roles in the City of London were held by women and the majority of those by foreigners. The article went further by attributing this ‘fact’ to the foreign women’s swagger. The truth of the matter is, given London is a global financial centre, there is a strong likelihood that a senior leadership role will have a regional or global focus. If the potential candidates haven’t had any international experience, they don’t qualify, swagger or not.

That said, the ‘swagger’ comment got me thinking, and led me to reflect on the great Arab women I have had the privilege of interviewing and working with. They are highly intelligent, very well-educated and incredibly insightful – ingredients which are prevalent amongst many women around the world. They don’t seek to be liked but rather have the courage of their convictions. They don’t have to speak loudly or demand to be listened to, but they still have their views be known and considered. They tend to talk less and act more. They are compassionate and kind but don’t tolerate fools. Above all else, there is a particular ingredient in their presence and demeanour, described perfectly by a dear friend from the region – “we are salty, not sweet”.

 

From Segregation to Sisterhood

It’s fascinating when you think about it. Yes, women in the region tend to live more segregated lives. Instead of competing with men, they understand and nurture the concept of sisterhood, encouraging and supporting each other. When they get older and enter the corporate realm, government or family business, they are purposeful and have a quiet self-confidence, an inner strength which is ready to come out and be deployed in a broader spectrum. Moreover, contrary to popular belief, they are welcomed in the workplace and encouraged to grow and rise through the ranks. Have they had challenges to overcome? Absolutely. Challenges have shaped their character, balancing their resilience, perseverance and determination, together with their faith, patience and belief in a higher power. Formidable indeed.

So what are some of the ingredients that help foster women’s capabilities that we could use to make our companies more balanced, diverse and better equipped to handle the changing times?

 

Vision & Purpose

If you want to attract, nurture and keep the best women, consider what difference your business makes, why it matters. Frankly, if your business isn’t concerned with anything other than profit, you are going to face challenges in finding and keeping people with character and competence – women or men.

 

Interview From the Inside Out

If you are using an interview only as a checkbox exercise to see if the person has the skills for a particular job, you are missing out on a great opportunity. A person’s CV is merely a scratch on the surface of not only who this person is, but also how far their capabilities can extend. Context is key.

As a starter, why don’t you put the CV aside and get them to tell you their story? Adopt a curious mind, seeking to learn about the person’s experiences that have brought them to the present day. This approach can open up an individual’s character, their way of thinking, approach to challenges, and the environment and factors needed to bring out their best. You never know – you could even learn something along the way.

 

Don’t Hire What You Don’t Appreciate

If you don’t see how someone adds value to your organisation, why hire them? If the person is on board, why aren’t you listening to their viewpoint and perspective? If you want yes people who go along with what you say, you are wasting your money hiring great people. A recorded message to yourself telling you “you’re doing a good job” will suffice. However, if you hire us, listen to us. We have a different perspective. It may not be what you want to hear, but we are here to add value. Allow us – there are skills, traits and natural capabilities just waiting to be engaged. If you don’t appreciate us, we’ll find or create companies that will.

As featured in Women’s Prospects 

AMBITION, ATTITUDE AND ACTION

Ideas are great, but it’s action that turns them into reality. So do you know what you’re creating? Do you know for what purpose? Or are you in danger of getting there at a cost you hadn’t envisaged?

Here are some tips to help you achieve what you truly want – not just what you think you may want.

What is your Ambition?

Nelson Mandela had said: “In judging our progress as individuals, we tend to concentrate on external factors such as one’s social position, influence and popularity, wealth and standard of education…but internal factors may be even more crucial in assessing one’s development as a human being”.

So in your defining your ambition, consider and factor in:

  • The type of person you want to become
  • The values and principles you believe in and are committed to
  • The accompanying behaviours and actions that reflect the above
  • Keep Your Attitude in Check

It is pressure and time that develops diamonds, and so it is with character. As lofty and beneficial as your ambition may be, the likelihood is there will be challenges along the way. Integrate them into your plan and have a strategy on what to do if and when the chips are down. Here are some suggestions:

  • Pick a mentor or support team
  • Find an activity that picks up your spirits
  • Adopt principles from martial arts, yoga and other practices
  • Write a letter to yourself from a position of clarity and strength to provide yourself with the courage and insight you need to pull yourself through.
  • Learn to breathe ? – we tend to panic or get stressed when things aren’t working out according to our plan, resulting in a lack of oxygen to the brain, further compounding matters.
  • Build the capacity to identify lessons and opportunities – turning lemons into lemonade
  • Have the wisdom to readjust and fine-tune along the way
  • If you see challenges as rough seas and waves – learn to surf!
  • See how you can harness the circumstances to your advantage.
  • Take Action!

All the ideas and ideals in the world are no good if you don’t act upon them. Imagine your outcome and break it down into the steps you need to take to reach it and turn these into daily do-ables. Here are some suggestions:

  • Include the action in your daily to-do-list
  • Review your actions at the end of every day
  • What went well?
  • Where can you do/be better?
  • What are you grateful for?
  • What are you going to integrate into the next day?
  • Set milestones
  • Create celebrations
  • Enjoy the process!

You will be amazed what you can achieve when you set your mind (and heart) on a focal point. So take the first step towards realising your ambitions, the rest is there waiting for you to step up.

Want to share your stories, experiences and workarounds? Awesome! Join the community!

Get in Touch






By pressing send, you agree to us getting in touch with you.

You can unsubscribe at any time. More about our Privacy Policy here.

ALL INFORMATION YOU SHARE IS CONFIDENTIAL.

CASE STUDY

EMERGING MARKETS:

Navigating a clash between corporate governance and local customs

 

CHALLENGE

A multinational company operating in emerging markets discovered an individual who had access to the company float was taking money out of the company but replacing it before the new accounting cycle. With strong corporate governance rules immediate dismissal seemed to be the natural decision. However, a board member knew this was out of character and not the norm from one of their best and longest standing employees. They asked me to look into it.

 

INSIGHT

Understanding local customs was the key to resolution.

Traditionally, the village elders were responsible for members of the community, helping where and when needed. Time and technology may have moved on, but customs and traditions tend to remain. The company had built a great deal of trust in the region and within the community. What no-one realised was the company’s reputation in effect made this individual a modern day ‘elder’. Hence, when asked for help, it was his duty to do so. In effect, the company’s success brought unintended consequences and potentially nasty repercussions for local hires.

So how could the company navigate its commitment to building local economies while ensuring adherence to strict governance practices?

 

SOLUTION & OUTCOME

  • Investigated if anyone else was being asked to assist members of the community and themes
  • Created a fund with guidelines on how it was to be used
  • Developed an innovation challenge to find more sustainable solutions
  • Adjusted how the company found and integrated local talent

CASE STUDY

  WHEN INVESTORS COME IN Tackling transition and the growing pains of scaling a business CHALLENGE A start-up was acquired by a private equity firm. There was low morale, diminished team spirit, lack of personal performance, all ultimately impacting results. INSIGHTS...

CASE STUDY

  MILLENNIAL LEADER: Unmotivated and difficult to manage?   CHALLENGE A team transformation process with people from various backgrounds and ages. One person, in particular, was a millennial in a leadership position. He was perceived as difficult to manage by his...

CASE STUDY

ESTATE PLANNING Wealth transition between generations   CHALLENGE An Ultra high-net-worth family had sold the shares in the family business and placed the funds in trust to secure the wealth for future generations. However, the structure was creating family...

CASE STUDY

SUCCESS IN SUCCESSION The next generation taking over the family business CHALLENGE A nextgen was taking over the family business. To grow the business he also took on a private equity partner. The private equity firm recommended me as a sounding board to the CEO....

CASE STUDY

WHEN INVESTORS COME IN

Tackling transition and the growing pains of scaling a business

CHALLENGE

A start-up was acquired by a private equity firm. There was low morale, diminished team spirit, lack of personal performance, all ultimately impacting results.

INSIGHTS

The people involved from the inception of the company were still with the organisation and were experiencing a change in culture, direction and method of working. The speed and rate of change was further amplified with additional acquisitions that needed to be merged with the business. The core team was under increasing amounts of pressure to provide stopgap solutions whilst other parts of the business were integrated. They were feeling undervalued and unrecognised.

SOLUTION & OUTCOME

Conducted individual and group sessions:

  • Identified individual core drivers, strengths, aspirations and areas they wanted to develop
  • Personal reflection on events and interactions – perception, reaction and subsequent influence on relationships with their colleagues
  • Awareness and adjustment of personal behaviour and communication to improve relationships with colleagues
  • Exploration and development of ways to tackle rifts with colleagues (e.g. identifies areas in which they could be each other’s mentors and role models, playing off each other’s strengths)
  • Reviewed compensation structure: what got measured, what got rewarded and how they felt about it
  • Reviewed roles and individuals in those roles
  • Realignment of roles with functions playing to strengths and areas of competence as opposed to titles due to length of service

Resulted in:

  • A team consisting of committed, competent and collaborative individuals operating in a more positive environment, with less friction and positive results.
  • A more collegiate and collaborative work environment, with improved communication, transparency and higher levels of trust
  • A compensation structure aligned with deliverables, contribution and value-add
  • Realising they were not in the right role or company, some team members resigned – some went on to become founders of their own startup

CASE STUDY

  WHEN INVESTORS COME IN Tackling transition and the growing pains of scaling a business CHALLENGE A start-up was acquired by a private equity firm. There was low morale, diminished team spirit, lack of personal performance, all ultimately impacting results. INSIGHTS...

CASE STUDY

  MILLENNIAL LEADER: Unmotivated and difficult to manage?   CHALLENGE A team transformation process with people from various backgrounds and ages. One person, in particular, was a millennial in a leadership position. He was perceived as difficult to manage by his...

CASE STUDY

ESTATE PLANNING Wealth transition between generations   CHALLENGE An Ultra high-net-worth family had sold the shares in the family business and placed the funds in trust to secure the wealth for future generations. However, the structure was creating family...

CASE STUDY

SUCCESS IN SUCCESSION The next generation taking over the family business CHALLENGE A nextgen was taking over the family business. To grow the business he also took on a private equity partner. The private equity firm recommended me as a sounding board to the CEO....

CASE STUDY

THE RIGHT PERSON TO LEAD? Taking a closer look at people's credentials. CHALLENGE The client needed to find a Managing Director for their business in an emerging market. A potential candidate had been recommended. I was asked to profile him. INSIGHT On paper, the...

CASE STUDY

A TEAM ACQUISITION Handling the fallout from the financial crisis CHALLENGE A global financial institution was in trouble. Bankruptcy was inevitable. Wanting to get ahead of it, a member of the regional team approached us to explore options.  INSIGHT Profiled every...

CASE STUDY

MILLENNIAL LEADER:

Unmotivated and difficult to manage?

 

CHALLENGE

A team transformation process with people from various backgrounds and ages. One person, in particular, was a millennial in a leadership position. He was perceived as difficult to manage by his boss, causing friction and frustration.

Was asked to fix it. In the process discovered an inspiring story and a great example of an unrecognised strength, poorly channelled could lead to misunderstandings and overlooked talents. Here’s the story of Mr X.

INSIGHT

Mr X has a condition that as a young boy, stopped him from attending school. Left to study on his own and at his own pace, Mr X passed all his exams ahead of his peers.

When he faced a challenge, got stuck or his will began to waiver, it was gentle words of encouragement from his mother that strengthened his resolve. He didn’t have to be cajoled into studying. He never had to be badgered by anyone or be told what he needed to do. He had the drive, determination and discipline to go it on his own.

However, not wanting to be perceived as weak and somewhat ashamed of his condition, he never shared this with anyone, let alone his bosses or colleagues at work.

SOLUTION & OUTCOME

Made him feel safe enough to open up to share the story. Enabled help him to reflect and realise how his condition had shaped him – his outlook, decisions and actions such as:

  • He has an innate hunger to learn and is committed to improving himself
  • His ability to overcome his illness was driving his inability to tolerate excuses from others
  • Not having had teachers or adults tell him what to do was making him impervious to instructions from ‘bosses.’

He became aware of how something he was embarrassed about, could be his greatest strength – if channelled in the right way. With a refreshed view and understanding of himself, he felt confident to share more about himself and worked on stopping the cycle of frustration with himself and others.

Today he is the founder of a startup.

His story has inspired many companies and individuals to be more aware of ‘inner stories’, and find hidden strengths.

CASE STUDY

  WHEN INVESTORS COME IN Tackling transition and the growing pains of scaling a business CHALLENGE A start-up was acquired by a private equity firm. There was low morale, diminished team spirit, lack of personal performance, all ultimately impacting results. INSIGHTS...

CASE STUDY

  MILLENNIAL LEADER: Unmotivated and difficult to manage?   CHALLENGE A team transformation process with people from various backgrounds and ages. One person, in particular, was a millennial in a leadership position. He was perceived as difficult to manage by his...

CASE STUDY

ESTATE PLANNING Wealth transition between generations   CHALLENGE An Ultra high-net-worth family had sold the shares in the family business and placed the funds in trust to secure the wealth for future generations. However, the structure was creating family...

CASE STUDY

SUCCESS IN SUCCESSION The next generation taking over the family business CHALLENGE A nextgen was taking over the family business. To grow the business he also took on a private equity partner. The private equity firm recommended me as a sounding board to the CEO....

CASE STUDY

THE RIGHT PERSON TO LEAD? Taking a closer look at people's credentials. CHALLENGE The client needed to find a Managing Director for their business in an emerging market. A potential candidate had been recommended. I was asked to profile him. INSIGHT On paper, the...

CASE STUDY

A TEAM ACQUISITION Handling the fallout from the financial crisis CHALLENGE A global financial institution was in trouble. Bankruptcy was inevitable. Wanting to get ahead of it, a member of the regional team approached us to explore options.  INSIGHT Profiled every...

CASE STUDY

ESTATE PLANNING

Wealth transition between generations

 

CHALLENGE

An Ultra high-net-worth family had sold the shares in the family business and placed the funds in trust to secure the wealth for future generations. However, the structure was creating family friction. Was asked to look at the structure in place, how to ensure success in succession and safeguard the cohesion of the family.

INSIGHT

The business was set up by the grandfather who had two children – a son and a daughter. Believing only boys should be in business, he spent more time with his son who then took over the company. The daughter herself had three sons, all of whom were very close to the grandfather when he was alive. Their mottos was a saying instilled in them by their grandfather.

The three grandsons were all married with children. By observing family dynamics and conducting one-to-one sessions, the cause of family friction became apparent, along with a pathway to create cohesion.

SOLUTION & OUTCOME

Many underlying issues arose, including:

  • Family members and their spouses holding different views on whether they are owners vs stewards of the wealth
  • Different attitudes and beliefs around money (e.g. one family member believed the middle class were happier and was on a mission to spend the wealth)
  • Different aims on how much wealth to leave the next generation

Worked with individual family members to:

  • Define their values, ambitions, and what legacy looks like for them
  • Explored potential avenues to see which would be the best fit
  • Brought the family together to share common values and develop a shared family philosophy
  • Discussed potential avenues raised during one-to-ones
  • Leveraging the family philosophy and overlapping values, reevaluated the structure and rules around the trust.
  • Developed a framework for decision making and conflict resolution that reflected the family values and philosophy.
  • Developed a path forward that was owned by all family members, not imposed.

Ultimately the family realised that beyond the financial wealth, it is the goodwill of the family name, its lineage and heritage that is their greatest asset.

CASE STUDY

  WHEN INVESTORS COME IN Tackling transition and the growing pains of scaling a business CHALLENGE A start-up was acquired by a private equity firm. There was low morale, diminished team spirit, lack of personal performance, all ultimately impacting results. INSIGHTS...

CASE STUDY

  MILLENNIAL LEADER: Unmotivated and difficult to manage?   CHALLENGE A team transformation process with people from various backgrounds and ages. One person, in particular, was a millennial in a leadership position. He was perceived as difficult to manage by his...

CASE STUDY

ESTATE PLANNING Wealth transition between generations   CHALLENGE An Ultra high-net-worth family had sold the shares in the family business and placed the funds in trust to secure the wealth for future generations. However, the structure was creating family...

CASE STUDY

SUCCESS IN SUCCESSION The next generation taking over the family business CHALLENGE A nextgen was taking over the family business. To grow the business he also took on a private equity partner. The private equity firm recommended me as a sounding board to the CEO....

CASE STUDY

THE RIGHT PERSON TO LEAD? Taking a closer look at people's credentials. CHALLENGE The client needed to find a Managing Director for their business in an emerging market. A potential candidate had been recommended. I was asked to profile him. INSIGHT On paper, the...

CASE STUDY

A TEAM ACQUISITION Handling the fallout from the financial crisis CHALLENGE A global financial institution was in trouble. Bankruptcy was inevitable. Wanting to get ahead of it, a member of the regional team approached us to explore options.  INSIGHT Profiled every...

CASE STUDY

SUCCESS IN SUCCESSION

The next generation taking over the family business

CHALLENGE

A nextgen was taking over the family business. To grow the business he also took on a private equity partner. The private equity firm recommended me as a sounding board to the CEO.

INSIGHTS

The new CEO was the oldest son and best equipped to take over the business, with the skillset, knowledge and passion. He also had a vision and the mindset to get there. Some of the senior executives had been with the company for some time. They had strong relationships with the father and used to his way of doing business. A big challenge was enabling them to have a shift in mindset to a new way of doing business and genuinely respecting the new CEO, an individual they had known since he was a boy, and in some ways still fixed on seeing him as younger and therefore less experienced than them. SOLUTION & OUTCOME
  • Conducted one-to-one sessions with the Senior Executive team to understand their background and assess their capabilities and mindset.
  • Identified potential threats related to attrition and politicking
  • Working with the CEO, enabled him to think through workarounds and develop the right strategies
  • Taken in as a trusted advisor to discuss deeper family dynamics, challenges, aspirations and legacy

CASE STUDY

  WHEN INVESTORS COME IN Tackling transition and the growing pains of scaling a business CHALLENGE A start-up was acquired by a private equity firm. There was low morale, diminished team spirit, lack of personal performance, all ultimately impacting results. INSIGHTS...

CASE STUDY

  MILLENNIAL LEADER: Unmotivated and difficult to manage?   CHALLENGE A team transformation process with people from various backgrounds and ages. One person, in particular, was a millennial in a leadership position. He was perceived as difficult to manage by his...

CASE STUDY

ESTATE PLANNING Wealth transition between generations   CHALLENGE An Ultra high-net-worth family had sold the shares in the family business and placed the funds in trust to secure the wealth for future generations. However, the structure was creating family...

CASE STUDY

SUCCESS IN SUCCESSION The next generation taking over the family business CHALLENGE A nextgen was taking over the family business. To grow the business he also took on a private equity partner. The private equity firm recommended me as a sounding board to the CEO....

CASE STUDY

THE RIGHT PERSON TO LEAD? Taking a closer look at people's credentials. CHALLENGE The client needed to find a Managing Director for their business in an emerging market. A potential candidate had been recommended. I was asked to profile him. INSIGHT On paper, the...

CASE STUDY

A TEAM ACQUISITION Handling the fallout from the financial crisis CHALLENGE A global financial institution was in trouble. Bankruptcy was inevitable. Wanting to get ahead of it, a member of the regional team approached us to explore options.  INSIGHT Profiled every...

CASE STUDY

THE RIGHT PERSON TO LEAD?

Taking a closer look at people’s credentials.

CHALLENGE

The client needed to find a Managing Director for their business in an emerging market. A potential candidate had been recommended. I was asked to profile him.

INSIGHT

On paper, the individual seemed to have the right credentials, well equipped for the role with our client. He even had one of our client’s Senior Executives as a reference.

SOLUTION & OUTCOME

Interviewed the candidate using the AMANI™ protocol. The candidate’s track record, knowledge and experience seemed to be ideal. However, there was something that wasn’t right. It was very subtle with no hard evidence at this stage, but enough to instil a doubt and raise a red flag.

Discussed the matter with the client who looked into the area raised.

The examples the potential candidate had shared were real, but the work he was taking credit for was carried out by someone else – a person already working with our client.  Definitely not someone who could be trusted to lead a business. Saved the client from the potential fallout of having the wrong leader in place.

CASE STUDY

  WHEN INVESTORS COME IN Tackling transition and the growing pains of scaling a business CHALLENGE A start-up was acquired by a private equity firm. There was low morale, diminished team spirit, lack of personal performance, all ultimately impacting results. INSIGHTS...

CASE STUDY

  MILLENNIAL LEADER: Unmotivated and difficult to manage?   CHALLENGE A team transformation process with people from various backgrounds and ages. One person, in particular, was a millennial in a leadership position. He was perceived as difficult to manage by his...

CASE STUDY

ESTATE PLANNING Wealth transition between generations   CHALLENGE An Ultra high-net-worth family had sold the shares in the family business and placed the funds in trust to secure the wealth for future generations. However, the structure was creating family...

CASE STUDY

SUCCESS IN SUCCESSION The next generation taking over the family business CHALLENGE A nextgen was taking over the family business. To grow the business he also took on a private equity partner. The private equity firm recommended me as a sounding board to the CEO....

CASE STUDY

THE RIGHT PERSON TO LEAD? Taking a closer look at people's credentials. CHALLENGE The client needed to find a Managing Director for their business in an emerging market. A potential candidate had been recommended. I was asked to profile him. INSIGHT On paper, the...

CASE STUDY

A TEAM ACQUISITION Handling the fallout from the financial crisis CHALLENGE A global financial institution was in trouble. Bankruptcy was inevitable. Wanting to get ahead of it, a member of the regional team approached us to explore options.  INSIGHT Profiled every...

CASE STUDY

A TEAM ACQUISITION

Handling the fallout from the financial crisis

CHALLENGE

A global financial institution was in trouble. Bankruptcy was inevitable. Wanting to get ahead of it, a member of the regional team approached us to explore options. 

INSIGHT

  • Profiled every team member, identifying their skills, aspirations and team cohesion
  • Reviewed their deal sheets, understanding their capabilities and sectorial coverage
  • Pinpointed critical team members to each cluster and business

Provided an existing client with the overview of the team, discussing capabilities, cohesion, linchpins and possible constructs.

SOLUTION & OUTCOME

Equipped with an in-depth understanding of the team and their capabilities, he set up discussions with the leaders of the institution to discuss the business further and their options. Initially exploring the acquisition of the regional team, the talks shifted to a global acquisition. Key to this was the alignment of the organisations’ sectorial coverage, cultural dynamics and the mindset of the people.

The acquisition did not take place. Our client’s bid became untenable when another bank acquired the business, paying cash bonuses with the hope of retaining the team. Unfortunately, that strategy did not work, and team members started disbanding within six months due to a lack of cultural fit with the acquiring organisation and lack of deal flow.

CASE STUDY

  WHEN INVESTORS COME IN Tackling transition and the growing pains of scaling a business CHALLENGE A start-up was acquired by a private equity firm. There was low morale, diminished team spirit, lack of personal performance, all ultimately impacting results. INSIGHTS...

CASE STUDY

  MILLENNIAL LEADER: Unmotivated and difficult to manage?   CHALLENGE A team transformation process with people from various backgrounds and ages. One person, in particular, was a millennial in a leadership position. He was perceived as difficult to manage by his...

CASE STUDY

ESTATE PLANNING Wealth transition between generations   CHALLENGE An Ultra high-net-worth family had sold the shares in the family business and placed the funds in trust to secure the wealth for future generations. However, the structure was creating family...

CASE STUDY

FINDING THE RIGHT LEADER

An innovative approach to finding the right leader

 

CHALLENGE

A family business with a franchise partner had to replace the Managing Director with immediate effect. Failure to do so could result in them losing their business relationship with the franchise partner, which would have a big impact on their business, revenue and reputation. The time constraints were further exacerbated by the time of year – it coincided with a holiday season during which most people are not available.

SOLUTION & OUTCOME

The situation required an understanding of the issues and related factors, an ability to be laser-like in identifying the right person and out of the box thinking. Going the traditional search route would have taken too long. Taking a closer look at their client-base, contacts and additional resources, formulated a unique strategy that identified the right potential candidates and we set out to profile them for best fit.

The targeted candidates were from three different geographical locations so there were a number of factors to consider including:

  • The right skills and motivations
  • An understanding of the market
  • A proven track record in building a business with similar challenges
  • An ability to work with the cultural mix of people that worked with the organisation
  • An understanding of what relocation would entail from a familial perspective, making sure everyone was on board and in alignment
  • Resonance in terms of the ability to fit and thrive in the corporate culture

Regardless of the tight deadline, anyone who wasn’t just right was excluded, for their own sake as well as the client’s. Failure to do so would have increased the probability of having to face the same problem some months down the line. Using this methodology, the shortlist of three top candidates was presented within a month of first being alerted of the situation by the client.

The individual hired is still with the brand, growing the business in a new territory.

Saved the client time, money, reputation and the relationship with their franchise partner.

CASE STUDY

  WHEN INVESTORS COME IN Tackling transition and the growing pains of scaling a business CHALLENGE A start-up was acquired by a private equity firm. There was low morale, diminished team spirit, lack of personal performance, all ultimately impacting results. INSIGHTS...

CASE STUDY

  MILLENNIAL LEADER: Unmotivated and difficult to manage?   CHALLENGE A team transformation process with people from various backgrounds and ages. One person, in particular, was a millennial in a leadership position. He was perceived as difficult to manage by his...

CASE STUDY

ESTATE PLANNING Wealth transition between generations   CHALLENGE An Ultra high-net-worth family had sold the shares in the family business and placed the funds in trust to secure the wealth for future generations. However, the structure was creating family...

A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE ON WORK & ENGAGEMENT

Do we treat people like a one-night stand or do we show the level of commitment we would give someone we want to marry? And once we marry, do we work at keeping the relationship alive, or do we take each other for granted?

I can’t think of many people who don’t want to love what they do and feel they matter. On the other hand, we hear of the difficulties organisations have in engaging their people.

So I thought I’d have some fun and draw a parallel between work and love to identify the ingredients that can help unlock engagement. Let me know what you think 🙂

“Luck – when preparation meets opportunity.”

Just as you are unlikely to meet Mr or Miss Right if you don’t make an effort to go out and meet anyone; a job isn’t going to land in your lap if you do nothing.

When you apply for a job, do you know what you want? Do you know what skills, talents and interests you have? Do you know where and how you can best add value? Or are you so desperate you’re just looking for something that pays the bills? Likewise, when you date someone, instead of looking at the entire list of criteria they should possess, have you taken a close look at yourself to see what you bring to a relationship?

Oh how exciting, someone wants me, they’ve asked me for an interview/date.

The question itself seems to validate someone’s worth. Someone noticed them. Hope rekindles.

And then the panic sets in. What questions will they ask me? What should I wear? Am I ready? All along masking the underlying question – am I good enough, will I be accepted?

So you plough through endless blogs and articles, studying the dos and don’ts, making mental notes of what to say and not to say, all along contorting yourself into a bag of knots.

The bigger question is – if you haven’t accepted yourself, how can you expect anyone else to?

It’s fine (for now)

Have you ever known anyone who is dating someone who they’re not planning on marrying? Have you ever heard anyone accept a job offer saying they’ll look for something else? It begs the question – what’s the point? Is the other person aware of the lack of intention or are they investing in something they hope will lead somewhere?

It’s not in what you say; it’s in what you do.

Do we have all experienced people who have promised the world, but have they come through? Are they a person of their word or do they come up with platitudes and countless apologies while still showing the same behaviours?

As human beings we want to believe what people say, believe in them and that this time it’s different. And yet we keep experiencing the same letdowns. At some point, one needs to realise the common denominator to these disappointments is ourselves. Are we discerning enough? Do we look for consistencies between what a person says and does? Do we have the courage and belief in ourselves, what we stand for and represent to say ‘this isn’t for me’ and look for what is right?

Many people seem to behave like one of Cinderella’s ugly sisters – so eager to fit into the glass slipper; they’ll contort themselves into all kind of shapes and sizes to fit in and be accepted. But after a while, those feet will hurt – just as the pain of not being oneself will one day become too hard to bear. So if you want engagement, use the four-letter word rarely uttered in the workplace – love.

COMPANY CULTURE STARTS WITH YOU

COMPANY CULTURE STARTS WITH YOU

Ask a person the reason they love to travel, and often they say to experience different cultures. Human beings seem to be intrigued by the social norms and ways of living of their fellow man in different cities and villages around the world. Having the experience and...

WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP – A MIDDLE EASTERN PERSPECTIVE

WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP – A MIDDLE EASTERN PERSPECTIVE

  There is a general look of surprise, even bewilderment when people hear I love working in the Middle East, for the simple reason that I’m a woman. I understand how there is a perception that women are not respected or highly regarded in the Middle East,...

A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE ON WORK & ENGAGEMENT

A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE ON WORK & ENGAGEMENT

Do we treat people like a one-night stand or do we show the level of commitment we would give someone we want to marry? And once we marry, do we work at keeping the relationship alive, or do we take each other for granted? I can’t think of many people who don’t want...

DO BUSINESS PRACTICES IMPACT PROFITABILITY?

 

For a company to thrive, it needs to ensure the wellbeing and level of satisfaction with its stakeholders – investors, employees, suppliers and customers. Recent times have seen how bad conduct results in negative publicity, poor company image and a drop in share price. So should a company adopt ethical practices as a means of improving and securing a company’s economic performance?

Risk Mitigation

According to EIRIS, studies show that ethics-related news influences a company’s share price for better or worse, revealing effects of between 0.5% and 3% of the share price.

The lesson to be extrapolated from the shift in share price is the underlying knock-on effects on the dynamics and relationships that enable that business to thrive, and ultimately the level of trust and confidence in management. Without this trust, stakeholders tend to limit investments, negatively affecting growth.

Private companies may argue this doesn’t affect them since they don’t have a share price. However, they still have other stakeholders to bear in mind, especially customers, suppliers, employees and themselves as the ultimate owner of the asset – its value, reputation and standing.

 

People Taking Care of People

Employees prefer to work with companies that treat them with dignity, respect and fairness. Creating an environment in which employees feel they matter has a residual benefit in propelling them to create positive experiences for customers. However, if employees see, hear or experience negative behaviour, it erodes their trust in and loyalty to the company, and the quality of care they feel compelled or empowered to portray to customers.

 

Customer Satisfaction

Companies with high levels of customer satisfaction tend to generate a higher degree of customer loyalty, repeat business and more market share in the long run. Customers may decline to deal with a company that causes them to be suspicious and afraid. Businesses that genuinely contribute to their community and maintain good relationships with other companies tend to be more successful in the long run. On the flip-side, those who have corporate social responsibility efforts on the one hand but poor business practices on the other, are in danger of breeding cynicism into their customers, and mistrust.

 

Creating Value

Ethical business practices are sound business practices. Instead of being consumed by unnecessary lawsuits and other activities that detract from the mission and purpose, the business can focus on producing quality products and services that enable positive financial results for the company.

 

Financial Health

Beyond regulatory requirements, accurate financial records are essential for sound decision-making and long-term success. Financial records provide an overview of return on effort, a tool to support business to measure its rewards for initiatives taking place in the marketplace. Sound and timely financial records are essential in determining the trajectory of the company, and the ability to course correct where and when necessary. They also provide the ability to respond quickly to opportunities, without adding strain or unwarranted risk. Furthermore, a clear picture on the financial situation of the company will enable it to have the cash flow required to fulfil its commitments, a sound business practice to keep employees and maintain relationships with suppliers.

 

Green Practices

Whether you’re chopping trees or hugging trees, people look for returns.

The fact of the matter is if you don’t keep an eye on your bottom line, the business will be unsustainable. The bottom line is affected by people’s perception, belief and likability of your company. The internet and social media have provided stakeholders with the tools to have a greater insight into the impact businesses have on our environment and society. Customers seek to do business with companies that reflect their values, and suppliers and investors would be wise to follow suit.

 

Unforeseen Circumstances

It is far easier to set off on the right foot in the first place than trying to course correct once calamity hits. That said, genuine errors and unforeseen circumstances do happen. The ability for a business to respond appropriately and speedily speaks volumes in the eyes of stakeholders. However, waiting until a crisis strikes to instil and encourage good behaviours is a poor strategy given the time it takes to overhaul embedded systems, beliefs and practices. These changes result in delayed decisions, negative public opinion and a downward spiral in relationships with stakeholders – not good practice for any business that needs customers, employees, suppliers and investors to thrive.

Some may still argue why change when some are getting away with it. Others may wait for regulatory bodies to force them to clean up their business practices, and there will be those who choose to see the tide is shifting – that the manner in which we produce and deliver products and services matters. Now is an excellent time to challenge the ills we tolerate under the guise ‘but this is business’ and start by acting responsibly in the first place.

 

 

Featured in Fresh Business Thinking

STEWARDSHIP, EDUCATION AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP

 

Family wealth fails to make it beyond the third generation in 90 per cent of cases. This failure isn’t due to poor investment decisions, but rather a lack of cohesion and communication between family members, where the family fragments, and with it the wealth.

Some members of the next generation attend the best schools and universities across the world. However, they are still not adequately prepared for the responsibilities that face them when they return home. Each phase of life presents its own unique set of challenges. Families need to ensure they are doing their best to equip themselves and the next generation with the skills and knowledge they need to move forward in their professional and personal lives.

So how can a family increase the chances of success? Let’s take a closer look at the issues, and some critical stages and situations families and individual family members need to be aware of and consider.

 

Challenges Facing Young People

Imagine a young person getting ready to embark on higher education, perhaps abroad. Youngsters can face pressure from peers or from a desire to fit in and make friends. These can be more pronounced for someone from the Middle East. Sadly, it is common to hear of individuals bragging about their family’s wealth as a way to gain acceptance in a new environment, or of people making assumptions based on origin. If a young person is not adequately grounded and prepared, this can make them easy prey to be taken advantage of by supposed friends.

In such cases, there are two typical outcomes. The first is the young person becomes surrounded by parasites, taking advantage of their wealth. The second is the young person succumbing to peer pressure, taking on harmful behaviours or habits. Although both examples are factors every family, regardless of origin, needs to be aware of, these two scenarios seem to be more pronounced for families from the region, due to the perception of wealth, and the differences in culture and traditions between the Middle East and non-Islamic societies.

 

Who Should Succeed?

Succession does not guarantee success, and being the oldest does not make a person best suited to take over the family business. Families in the region, have traditionally seen the eldest son as the natural successor. However, history and excellent examples of female leadership have shown this is not necessarily what is best for the family or the business. The Middle East is experiencing a cultural shift, with women playing a more significant role in business and society. It would be wise for families to not overlook the women in the family and to capitalise on their capabilities.

The transition from one generation to the next can be challenging at the best of times, but the speed at which society is changing in the Middle East can add a different dynamic to succession. Alignment between personal and family values can be perplexing, but adding traditional, cultural and religious values can add further complexity, especially in times of societal change. Ultimately, the person who succeeds should be the best equipped to ensure the long-term sustainability and longevity of the family wealth, to support current and future generations.

 

Shared Vision

The need to create value to support a growing family is not the sole responsibility of the patriarch. Every member of the family needs to move forward together towards a shared vision. Each member of the family must also take personal responsibility in ensuring they work in the family enterprise only if they add value. Failure to do so jeopardises the well-being of the family enterprise and the family system. No two people have the same combination of skills, talents, interests and aptitudes. So each needs to hone their skills to make them fit for whichever role best suits them – if any.

Consider the Olympics: being the son or daughter of a great athlete doesn’t make you a great athlete. You need to have a particular aptitude, talent and interest. You must also have the resilience, tenacity, passion and stamina to stay the course and win. It is imperative for families in the region to go beyond the default ‘eldest son’ and pass the baton to the family member(s) best equipped to carry forward the legacy and provide the support necessary.

 

Ensuring Sufficient Value and Growth

How does a family provide sufficient value and growth of the family’s wealth to sustain a growing family? With increased longevity, there are now more family members across generations alive at any given time. In the Middle East, this figure is amplified by cultural traditions, creating larger families than other societies. Some families have around 30 family members across three generations. In addition to needing more significant financial resources, larger families can also find it more challenging to create cohesion and shared values among family members, further increasing the potential threat of wealth dissipation.

 

Investments

As wealth transitions to the next generation, so does the investment focus. For instance, Morgan Stanley’s sustainable investing institute found Millennials (broadly defined as those born between the early 1980s and 2000) are more likely to align their investment choices with their personal values and are twice as likely as the overall investor population to invest in companies targeting social or environmental goals. The research also found Millennials purchased from a sustainable brand twice more often than the average investor population and were three times more likely to seek employment with a sustainably-minded company. Given the size of the Millennial generation, these are factors worth considering when choosing where to invest the family’s capital – be it the investment portfolio, family business or new enterprises the next-generation want to start. Smart families would seize the opportunity by exploring and aligning the family philosophy and its investment principles.

 

Value-creating Enterprises

One way to provide sustainability is through value-creating enterprises. However, with the advancement of technology, businesses in the region are in danger of being disrupted, making innovation, tech-savviness, agility and sharpened entrepreneurial skills even more essential. It is also where the shifting traditions mentioned previously can be a positive influence. With more Arab women tapping into their entrepreneurial capabilities, families have greater potential in wealth creation, further safeguarding the family’s legacy and wealth for future generations. A proactive approach to disruption, embracing the shift in traditional views, and supporting the role of women in business, is a way to benefit all parties.

 

Managing Transition

Transitions are never smooth and for the patriarch, handing over while finding new direction and purpose can be challenging. Over the years patriarchs have gained precious experience and wisdom, and often still want to feel needed and useful. That said, the transition offers an opportunity for patriarchs to harness their knowledge, experience and interests into a new chapter, exploring and undertaking new ways to continue their legacy. As with all change, this has its challenges. Entrusting someone with your life’s work is no mean feat. The region has changed so much over the years this can add an extra layer of difficulty for patriarchs from the Middle East.

Patriarchs have also seen a shift in the values of the next generation and society. The next generation, coming on board with a fresh pair of eyes, is eager to take on new frontiers. Managing succession requires all parties to understand the two perspectives, and finding the balance between them is vital. Passing on the legacy is a gradual process that comes over time, but eventually, there is a need to let go. Leaving the transition to the last minute is likely to leave the next generation ill-prepared, and higher risk for the dissipation of the wealth and legacy.

 

The Process of Succession

Ninety per cent of wealth, globally, does not go beyond the third generation, and the dynamics of families in the Middle East could increase that number even further. The unfortunate statistics demonstrate the intricacies of navigating the phases of a succession process.

Succession is not merely about setting up structures to ensure wealth is passed on. It is an intricate process through which the next generation is equipped with the skills, tools and aptitude to succeed for generations to come. The better-prepared families and family members are, the higher the chance of success.

 

Rethinking Startup Success

We often hear ‘it’s a great company, they’ve raised $x’. This is the wrong metric, and recent disasters (e.g. WeWork, Uber and Theranos) have confirmed this. Thought it was time to peel back the layers on what we should be looking at. Here’s the article featured in Entrepreneur Middle East. read more

Discussion on AI & Intellectual Property

A recent article in Technology Review posed the question of whether AI can be an inventor. In principle, it’s a debate around IP law and whether AI can own ideas it generates. Check out the debate generated on LinkedIn. It’s worth a read. Additional views always welcome. read more

State of MENA Startups 2019

Following on from the recent report on the startup scene in the MENA Region (well done to MAGNiTT and 500 Startups for putting this together), here we peel back the layers on some of the issues raised. read more

Get in Touch






By pressing send, you agree to us getting in touch with you.

You can unsubscribe at any time. More about our Privacy Policy here.

ALL INFORMATION YOU SHARE IS CONFIDENTIAL.