Omar Alghanim participates in discussion during Tmkeen Youth Empowerment Symposium
KUWAIT: Among the activities in the Tmkeen Youth Empowerment Symposium, held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Omar Kutayba Alghanim, CEO of Alghanim Industries and Chairman of Gulf Bank participated in the first panel discussion with Ian McNish, founding member of LinkedIn website.
Tmkeen, a non-profit organization, launched its fourth conference on Monday, November 9, 2015 at the Arraya Ballroom. The Minister of Information Sheikh Salman AlHomoud Al-Sabah and the Ambassador of the United States in Kuwait, Douglas Silliman. As a national youth initiative, Tmkeen holds this annual conference with the goal of spreading awareness, knowledge and inspiration to aspiring entrepreneurs in addition to myriad other events throughout the year.
The activities on the first day of the conference started with a seminar presented by Ian McNish, one of the founding members of LinkedIN, about the future of social networking. This was followed by a panel discussion which featured Ian McNish and Omar Kutayba Alghanim, CEO of Alghanim Industries and Chairman of Gulf Bank, spoke on the subject: Redefining Success.
Redefining Success: Around this discussion, Omar Kutayba Alghanim said: “In the region, a challenge we face is the stigma of failure. When aspiring entrepreneurs are asked about the primary reason they didn’t start a business, the answer we get is ‘fear of failure’. That’s unacceptable. When asked the same question in developed countries, you hear ‘lack of capital’ but in Kuwait and across the region, the fear of failure is so strong that it prevents people from even trying. Don’t let fear of failure stop you. You will make mistakes and at times you will fail. The lessons learned from mistakes and failures are invaluable.
In my company, during the quarterly review, I ask my senior managers ‘what mistakes have you made?’ If the answer I get is that they didn’t make any mistakes, I know something is wrong. They didn’t take risks, they didn’t try to grow fast enough and they didn’t push the envelope. Taking risks, but calculated risks, is part of being an entrepreneur. The two run hand-in-hand.”
On his part, McNish said, “It is very important that we have a clear definition of success and failure. A lot of people think success is making fortune and increasing the value of their businesses, when in fact, the real success lies in important achievements that leave a mark on the world. As for failure, it is well known that most of the startups fail but their owners commonly succeed afterwards in accomplishing another successful idea. So failing an idea is not the end of the road”.
The Working Environment of Alghanim Industries
When asked about the working environment in his operating companies, Alghanim replied: “We, at Alghanim Industries, are a meritocracy which means that we select and reward people based on their capabilities and contributions; not by their background or connections. We created an environment where your success is determined by the value you create. In a country where the role of wasta or what I like to call, “wastacracy” is common, I believe this gives us a competitive advantage.
Merit goes beyond people. It extends to ideas. In Alghanim Industries, the best idea can come from the most junior level employee at the beginning of his career. We make sure that they are able to share those ideas through “straight talking”. It’s one of our values, and it allows people the ability to say whatever they want, without fear or hesitation. An idea can be great, regardless of rank or title and this makes us more innovative.”
Importance of Education
On the subject of education Alghanim said: “Education plays a key role in economic growth and setting the foundation for successful entrepreneurship. Research from the International Labor Organization (ILO) indicates that entrepreneurs are most successful when exposed to entrepreneurism in primary, secondary and university levels. This is precisely the reason I founded INJAZ.
On the same subject of education McNish said: “I cannot overemphasize enough the importance of education as it is the frame that borders passion. Without education as a frame, your passion may lose form. On a personal level, I never completed my studies for the sake of work, but if I can go back in time I would not have taken the same decision. And I hope the audience present will pursue higher education.”
Ian McNish and Omar Kutayba Alghanim are seen during the panel discussion.
Omar Kutayba Alghanim speaking
in the panel discussion