“If you believe you have reached where you want to be, think again”
Fawaz Al-Asad believes that in order to succeed at the top, you need to start at the bottom. Working for other people is not only vital for gaining experience, it’s also essential for building your own management and leadership style. In this exclusive interview Fawaz shares the story of his journey to the top, including who he goes to for advice, how he stays motivated, and why teamwork is so important.
Can you tell us a little about your path to becoming CEO of Tri-Med?
I always wanted to be independent, ever since I graduated. There is a saying that in order to mange you have to be managed. So, I decided to start as an employee to learn. Lots of fresh graduates want to start as the boss. I believe this is a big mistake as it becomes a major reason of failure. It is part of the learning process to start working. I believe you have to work in different places, have different experiences, and gather the management skills you like in order to build your own culture and way.
For me, it took almost 14 years before I started my own business. I was still working when I started several businesses. I went on a rough road until I established my medical company which is now running very successfully (Alhamdulillah). It has been 6 years and the company is growing and running very well.
Being the CEO, you must have a lot on your plate. What’s the average day in your life? How do you manage your time?
When I first started my business, it was more like a job; a job that I loved. I worked from the office from 8am to 8pm. I was more involved in the office work but slowly as I hired people to handle different responsibilities, I had more time to invest in public relations and to visit different companies to understand their working styles and cultures. So, I have lots of meetings these days as my role now is very strategic.
What lessons did you learn early on as an entrepreneur?
a.Never be afraid to say no. Saying no will save you lots of headache and money in the future.
b.Never be scared of failure because only after failure can you enjoy success. Yet you should always be aware of risk factors relating to your investment ideas and always conduct a SWOT analysis before proceeding with any plan.
c.When facing problems down the line of any business or operation and looking for solutions, never look for keys to open locked doors but instead look for the open ones.
What are the non-negotiable parts of your organizational culture?
Working as one family where teamwork is an important aspect of our day to day work; where everyone is willing to take part in any task given regardless of their job description.
You’ve been CEO for many years. How do you stay motivated?
Ambition and continuously striving to expand my business opportunities and creating challenges within my organization in order to improve the quality and quantity of output. There is always room for improvement and the sky is the limit. If you believe you have reached where you want to be, think again. Otherwise, you will be stuck where you are and someone else will surpass you and take over your market share.
So how do you keep everyone together when things are not going your way?
Communication, motivation and expectation.
Communication: to be able to speak out freely with your team and for your team to have the freedom to speak of their opinions about why things are not going ok.
Motivation: after you identify obstacles, you create challenges and motivate everyone including yourself to conquer these challenges.
Expectation: you start setting up quantitative and qualitative targets for your team and yourself and expect everyone to do their best; and by doing that you make way for things to go your way.
Who do YOU go to when you need advice?
My mother. I always share my strategic thoughts with my mother. She is the only person I believe can speak to me with total honesty! Sometimes a humble opinion can go a very long way. But, for professional advice I have always relied on professional consultants.
What is your philosophy of leadership?
There’s a saying that I believe in and go by: ‘You lead people and you manage resources’.
If you could rewind the clock to when you started your first business, what advice would you give yourself about being an effective leader?
At the beginning of every business you require more management skills than leadership. At the start you have to be dictator like. You must be affirmative with what is needed and then slowly with time you ease up. Even your leadership style should be managed according to the ability of each and every one of your team members. Similar to the way you need to manage other parts of the business.
What is one book that has most influenced your leadership?
The Situational Leader by Dr. Paul Hersey. This book helped me a lot. I have read the book and also attended the workshops.
What are some of the challenges that your industry is facing?
Growing competition and price wars. Yet it is very healthy.
When it comes to your own travels, is there anywhere you keep going back to?
There are three countries that I go back to continuously for different reasons.1) UAE, specifically Dubai to remember that nothing is impossible. 2) Denmark to remember how to be organized and 3) Thailand for peace of mind and reflection.
Are you proud of creating a place where people genuinely enjoy coming to work? How did you do that?
Yes I am proud. I did it by creating a non-competitive family atmosphere.
Do you ever experience burnout? How does that manifest for you and as a CEO, how do you manage that?
Yes indeed. It affects my decision making, therefore I avoided making any decisions during my burnout period. Also, I tend to take a break from the office to come back strong and fully functional. I do that by conducting professional and social meetings out of the office and/or exercise and practicing my hobbies.
Where do you see the company by the end of 2017?
Conquering all the challenges that 2017 has brought forth. It has been a very deficit financial year for many businesses.
What is one piece of advice you would give to an aspiring leader?
Choose a leadership style. Learn about leadership styles and choose the right one for your type of business.
What do you never travel without?
My swimming suit. Even if I am travelling to a cold country, I look for an opportunity to dip myself in water.
Your message for the month of Movember:
Go for an early checkup and adapt to a healthy lifestyle.
Photography & Video: Hamad AlAinati (@7mdphotography)
Stylist: Musaed AlMutairi (@musaed_1980)
Outfits: Harvery Nichols, Kuwait (@harveynicholskuwait)
Watch: ORIS from Morad Yousuf Behbehani, Kuwait (@behbehaniluxury)
Creative Director: Jameel Arif – (@jameelarif)
Location: Four Seasons at Burj AlShaya – Kuwait (@fskuwait)