Arab Times

Omar Kutayba Alghanim participat­es in panel discussion

Alghanim Industries CEO talks redefining success at Tmkeen Youth Empowermen­t Symposium


KUWAIT CITY, Nov 11: 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, Nov 9, 2015 at the Arraya Ballroom in the presence of the Minister of Informatio­n Sheikh Salman Al-Humood Al-Sabah and the Ambassador of the United States in Kuwait, HE 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, who 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 defini- tion 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 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.

INJAZ is a regional organizati­on focused on empowering youth, particular­ly through teaching entreprene­urship. It’s part of the internatio­nal non-profit NGO, Junior Achievemen­t. We are proud to say that more than 2 million youth have gone through the programs regionally.

Another key reform we need to see in education is a higher focus on critical thinking. Our approach of storing knowledge rather than applying it to problem solving is not effective in a fast changing world. Today, it’s not about what you know but how you think.”

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.”

The Tmkeen conference continued over Monday and Tuesday. In addition to Ian McNish, Marc Kawano, CEO and cofounder of Storehouse Applicatio­n also attended the conference. Libby Gill, CEO of Libby Gill & Company, Former Head of Communicat­ion & PR Sony, Universal, and Turner Broadcasti­ng, and HE Douglas Silliman, Ambassador of the United States in Kuwait also took part in the various sessions throughout the conference.

A number of local personalit­ies were also invited to participat­e, including Dr Fatema Al-Mousawi, Director of “Kafu” Project, Mohammed Jafer, Cofounder of, Salah Al-Alaj, Co-founder of Derwaza News, Abdulrazaq Al-Mutawa, founder & CEO of Ghaliah Technology, and member on the Board of Directors of AlMasaleh Company Real Estate, Sheikh Nasser Al-Sabah, Chairman of Telly, and Khalil Al-Hamar, founder and CEO of Edges Media.

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Omar Kutayba Alghanim
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