5 Minutes With…Irfan Malik, Area Vice President, 3M Middle East & Africa

3M is seeing over 20 per cent growth in key core markets, says Irfan Malik, the company’s area vice president in the Middle East & Africa.



What will your company be focusing on this year?

3M will be focusing on sustainable growth through geographical expansion, investing in high growth spaces, building local capability and bringing in new innovative products and solutions to our customer needs.

Are you concerned that the current volatile global economic climate will affect your strategy?

Any volatility would be of some concern. However, as a diversified company, 3M is well positioned to meet the current economic challenges.

With our focus on new markets and new products and elevated local capability, I feel that 3M in the Middle East & Africa will continue to outpace the economies in growth. The important thing is that in these testing times leaders must stay the course and consistently execute their strategies.

What are the growth areas currently for your industry?

We are seeing over 20 per cent growth in the key core markets and an average 10-12 per cent in other markets. The industry average varies from three to eight per cent depending on segment and our plans are to outpace the industry growth by three times.

What new products will your company launch this year?

3M is focused on bringing in new products and solutions in the market place and as a thumb rule over 25 to 30 per cent of our sales come from new products that have been introduced over the last five years.

To name a few, we have launched a new style Littmann stethoscope, an advanced silicone tape for Skin and Wound management, a range of skin integrity products, state of the art patient warming solutions for healthcare industry, a range of screen protection accessories for smart phones, micro projectors for people on the move, new range of car care products, and a full range of occupational eye and ear protection products.

Will you be expanding into new territory?

We have just announced our expansion plans for Nigeria and East Africa with subsidiaries in Nigeria and Kenya, and another office in Qatar. Plans are also in place to substantially expand into Saudi Arabia that will focus on covering the length and breadth of the Kingdom. Over the next three to five years, we see ourselves more aggressive in North Africa and North Middle East.

What will be the biggest challenges for UAE businesses in your sector in 2012?

As a country, UAE still has potential for increasing penetration in many segments. The only challenge that we see is cash flow for small and medium size enterprises.

Will you be hiring this year?

With our aggressive plans for the region, we continue to hire the right talents for our multiple divisions and functions, both for Middle East and across Africa.

What’s your leadership style?

Focus. And sometimes you just have to decide not to participate in the downturn. It’s all a mindset game; positive thinking will always bring a positive attitude in the organisation and certainly a positive outcome. I give room to the leaders to define their game plan within the broad MEA strategy.

What makes the perfect employee?

I am not sure if we can ever discover a perfect employee. Individuals who are themselves, understand their strengths and development needs, know the vital targets they have to achieve, take responsibility for actions and execute it to their best ability, would stand out as ideal employees.

In my view, respect for various cultures and each other is also very important to have harmony within the organisation.

Define success in five words…

Passion, ownership, engaged, result-oriented and humble.

Three tips for becoming the boss…

• Articulate a clear vision coupled with a simple strategy
• Empower the organisation
• Focus on consistent sustainable performance

When I’m not at work I like to…

Be with the family and engage in gardening.