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Building a legacy for commercial and reputational excellence

Building a legacy for commercial and reputational excellence

Abdullah Mohammed Juma Al Naboodah explains how to develop continual and long-standing business excellence

As businesses, we strive for superior performance. Our commercial success, to a large extent, depends on the name we build for ourselves.

With this in mind, many companies will turn to marketing efforts to build brand awareness. While this strategy undoubtedly has significant payoff, it is important for decision makers to secure a legacy for themselves through equally important means; ensuring quick responsiveness to market trends, adopting sustainable practices and supporting national agendas through company initiatives.

The notion of business excellence being an ongoing journey is one that we at Saeed & Mohammed Al Naboodah Group have instilled into the way we do business. Continuous improvement and diversification of services have characterised our operations since our launch in 1958 and this year we marked our 60th anniversary milestone.

Over our years of industry experience, we have seen that a common mistake made by companies is to seize onto a successful business idea and attempt to achieve excellence in a singular revenue stream. However, what we need to understand is that today’s industries are characterised by rapid growth and constant change and, therefore, awareness of prevailing market trends and ensuring company responsiveness to consumer demands is critical.

We took heed of this lesson ourselves. Although our flagship construction business was launched in the 1960s as the firm’s core business, over the years the company has diversified its services to offer its customers new and innovative solutions that continually meet the industry’s evolving needs. We have sought to expand operations across various business streams to now cover transportation, travel, electrical, fit-out and our newly launched facilities management and renewable energy businesses.

Having said that, this is not a universal approach and the decision to expand cannot be taken lightly. Companies need to ensure potential new services or products fit in with the overall brand story and make business sense. Feasibility studies and market research is a helpful tool here.

At the same time as growing a business, companies must take into consideration the sustainability of their existing operations. Decision-makers need to start asking themselves will my company survive over the next 60 years? How can we continuously improve business performance while thinking about long-term success? How can I create a landscape for excellence for the future generation?

As a family business, sustainability is at the heart of our values, and as such we recently formalised our approach to corporate governance and created a sustainability framework. We have issued our second report, in accordance with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Sustainability Guidelines.

This strategy overlaps with the recent call for companies to support national agendas. As part of the UAE Vision 2021, the private sector has been afforded the opportunity to support the public sector in realising the country’s ambitions and enhancing the physical and socio-economic landscape of the UAE. This can be done through CSR efforts, investments in technology and knowledge-creation and even through improvements to the workplace environment.

For Al Naboodah Group Enterprises this has meant supporting the UAE’s shift to a diversified economy and its long-term strategy to deliver economic and cultural solutions to contribute to the growth of the nation through our vast portfolio and commitment to our employees. Other UAE companies have taken different routes including advocating STEM education, promoting the UAE as a trade and tourism hub and developing home-grown technology solutions.

Excellence in business is no longer a simple reflection of what our numbers say. As Aristotle eloquently claimed, excellence needs to be maintained as a habit. Operating in the environment we do, staying ahead of the competition requires strong brand awareness and a solid reputation. And this cannot be achieved in a year or two, or even five.

For us, our journey of excellence will always need constant effort, re-evaluation and understanding of our future. This is why through continued diversification, innovation and a strong focus on sustainability, Al Naboodah Group is working to ensure another 60 years of success and more.

Abdullah Mohammed Juma Al Naboodah is chairman of Saeed & Mohammed Al Naboodah Group

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