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Five Minutes With…Ramez Shehadi, EVP & MD, Booz Allen Hamilton MENA

Five Minutes With…Ramez Shehadi, EVP & MD, Booz Allen Hamilton MENA

There is significant need to evolve public services and infrastructure in the MENA region, says Shehadi.

Booz Hamilton recently announced expansion plans in the MENA region. What are the main drivers for growth in the region?

The consulting landscape is evolving. Today, our clients – both in this region and across the world – expect us to go beyond PowerPoint presentations to both conceptualise and deploy actionable innovation-led solutions to their challenges.

From the provision of public services such as education, healthcare and government services to sustainable urban development, energy and cyber security, and job creation – the demands of a youthful region responding to rapid economic and social development are vast and broad.

As a result we believe strengthening our team in the UAE enables us to continue offering expertise to our clients across MENA – a region undergoing significant economic and social change.

What are the biggest challenges that you face here?

Almost every country across MENA is affected by unique economic, social and environmental factors that pose a risk to their sustainable development and long-term security and prosperity. Regional governments continue to actively pursue this sustainable agenda – but there is no single solution.

The GCC has prioritised economic diversification through the development of human capital and a commitment to technology, research and development and innovation. Our challenge is to remain at – and help shape – the vanguard of that movement and to continue to identify and deliver the disruptive ideas that underpin that growth.

What are the new trends expected within the regional consulting sector?

The MENA region is almost impossible to be summarised in one broad brush-stroke as the socio-economic nuances of the GCC are very different from those of Levant and North Africa.

That said, it is safe to say that pervasively there is significant need to evolve public services and infrastructure to meet the needs of rapidly growing populations. The public services under the most acute pressure include the healthcare sector, education, security – both physical and cyber – and job creation, particularly private sector job creation among small and medium sized enterprises.

At a global level, widespread digitisation, increasingly known as the Internet of Things or Digital Life as it is referred to at Booz Allen, is afoot and is changing everything, from a functional level to a societal level. This is driving the evolution of traditional consulting services moving away from being simply about great ideas on paper.

While we have always helped clients to develop new policies and strategies, today we also support them through the process of translating those strategies into designs and prototypes, and even help operate their new transformative capabilities.

What’s your leadership style?

Successful management like leadership is a function of two elements that must remain in equilibrium: effectiveness – meaning one’s ability to execute what is required with accuracy and efficiency, and enlightenment – which is awareness and understanding of context, impact and nuances – both big and small. If you are effective but not enlightened, you risk marginalising what motivates and drives teams to deliver and deliver repeatedly; and enlightenment without effectiveness is philosophy.

Translated practically, I think leadership is about getting people to do what you believe is right not because you tell them to, but because they want to.

What makes the perfect employee?

For me, the key to the active pursuit of excellence is:

• Be intellectually curious: Develop a thirst for knowledge – from the seemingly mundane to the most complex of topics

• Work hard: There are very few truly brilliant people in this world; the rest of us just have to roll up our sleeves and work as hard as we can

• Value the team: No one is an island particularly in the project or even corporate environments. Increased productivity and motivation, heightened ingenuity, more robust and deeper analysis, greater learning, and generally better quality outcomes are just a few benefits of teaming and collaboration

• Make good better, and better your best: As the saying goes, “make your good, better and your better, best”. The desire to evolve, setting and overcoming new challenges, brings achievement – and it is that achievement that underpins the success of individuals, teams and organisations

• Learn reinvention: all things decay or erode with time; science calls it entropy and in the business world, it is called irrelevance. Knowledge, capability, skills must continually grow, be challenged, reconsidered and reshaped otherwise you risk irrelevance.

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