ON CAUSES THAT MATTER
THE DAY AFTER OUR AWARDS GALA LAST MONTH, our managing director came by to discuss some of the conversations that took place during the CEO Middle East Awards on September 25. Many executives, she was interested to hear, felt they now needed to appreciate, give back, and empower others in their organisations as well as in the wider community. There an emerging current of thought at the event: that somehow, the leaders of the business world should espouse prosperity rather than simply profits.
These thoughts were most prominent during some of the speeches that were given during the Awards ceremony.
Dubai Airports’ CEO Paul Griffiths, for instance, mentioned how at the moment he was collecting his award, the other thought in his mind was appreciation and concern for the thousands of people “labouring away into the night” at his organisation that needed at all times run like clockwork. HRH Prince Khalid bin Al Waleed on taking to the stage spoke at length about his journey to becoming a vegan, and why it was a cause everyone needed to pause and give thought to. Earlier in the evening, DIFC Courts’ CEO Amna al Owais had told us that while she didn’t want to being a female CEO to define her, she was proud to lead the mantle for equality in the workplace at DIFC Courts, an organisation with among the highest rates of female participation in the UAE.
These conversations were an interesting insight into the minds of successful top executives.
While we do often share a laugh during our interviews, the majority of our time is spent asking them about how they pursue success that can be measured in terms of numbers and KPIs. To hear these thoughts, at a time when CEOs, deservedly, earned the right to celebrate their achievements, meant that there was more going on in their minds behind the scenes.
It’s possible that these sentiments came to the fore during a time when the most successful chief executives are just beginning to reflect – on the path that they took that got them to the top, the people on the way that helped and mentored them, the mistakes they managed to get away with, and the good fortune, despite adversity, that they now have.
As someone who is usually 20 years younger than the average CEO, I get to hear a lot about the ‘luck’ that these executives have come across, the hard work and long nights it took to get to a point that they could refer to as success, money, wealth, skills and relationships. More often lately, they take time to discuss what they wish they could change about the world.
It’s had us thinking at CEO Middle East. Should we make the topic the theme of a whole issue?