Re-shaping the corporate culture

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Sunaina Rana/ Emirates Business

Hawkamah, a world-class corporate governance institute is working to help build sound organisations, aid corporate sector reform, strengthen banking or financial sector and facilitate good governance. The company’s vision is to see the MENA region enjoying healthy corporate governance environment and frameworks. Its mission is to
assist companies to develop sound and globally recognised style of
Hawkamah also helps in building qualified directors and top executives who are able to apply ethical corporate governance in their respective organisations.
The company’s strength lies in its research and years of experience in the region, its world-class experts and proximity to the countries and companies of the MENA region. Dr Ashraf Gamal El Din, Chief Executive Officer of Hawkamah, talks to
Emirates Business regarding the
corporate culture in the region.

What is the most important trait of a business leader?
A business leader must have the vision both for the organisation and for its people. He/she must be a good team leader in order to be able to get the best out of his/her team.

As the fluctuating oil prices have been of great concern to the economy of the region, how do you feel this flux can affect your business?
Unfortunately, the first item to be slashed when budget cuts happen is the human development. Therefore, lower oil prices and tight economic conditions result in fewer budgets for training and capacity building. However, times of
crisis call for better governance structure and advanced risk management. So while training business is less, advisory work is much higher than before.

Talking about your company, what are the challenges you have faced during your governance?
The key challenge in Hawkamah is that we work on a relatively new topic for the MENA region. Companies talk a lot about governance but lesser companies are willing to change the ways in which they structure themselves.
That is why we not only train directors and advice companies, but we also organise many awareness events and issue publications in order to re-shape the corporate culture in the

As the organisation gets larger, there can be a propensity for the institution to diminish their ‘inspiration.’ How do you deal with that?
I guess by ‘there’ you mean
employees. To the contrary, when
organisations get bigger, there are more chances for its original staff to grow bigger as well.
However, the problem is that the work culture becomes more ‘corporate’ than ‘cozy’. Dealings become more formal and systems get more bureaucratic. The leader has a key role to play to make sure that the
organisation does not lose the human face and does not become a boring place for employees.

Do you think diversification of the economy can be a positive step? Would it contribute towards opening more doors for new jobs?
Diversified economies are much more stable than other economies. One of the advantages that the UAE has over some other GCC countries is the fact that its economy is not solely dependent on oil and gas.
You have tourism, trade, and
manufacturing as well. My advice to the countries of the region is to use oil revenues to build other economic
activities so that they are less vulnerable to fluctuations in oil prices in the
This however is a long term
strategy. It will take time, efforts, and investments, but it does pay back at the end.

SMEs form an integral part of the
economy of a country, but at the same time supporting SMEs can also be challenging. What advice would you give to entrepreneurs to administer their business in challenging situations?

Success is about having the right vision, resources, and patience. In the longer term, the growth and success of the small businesses depend also on having the right systems in place. Therefore, documentation is formalisation of everything in the smallest
business is a key.
The governance structure for a small organisation is very simple and does not cost much.

Any one change you suggest that would contribute towards the growth of the country?
Introducing the insolvency law and simplification of legal procedures and dispute settlement will make a big difference to businesses and the
business environment in the country.

What would be your advice to the person who has just stepped into the position of leader?
Leadership is about setting the example for others, it is about working together with a team, it is about ethical standards and commitment. The company is as good as its leader really is. No matter how good you are, you can never be successful without having the right team and motivating them.

How can TOP CEO Conference help aspiring business leaders?
It is a good opportunity for sharing experiences, discussing challenges, and learning from one another. It is also a good chance for networking among CEOs who can later do
business with each other.

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