How the Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group is getting future ready

Tell us about your company and its diverse portfolio, including partnerships and ESAG2025?
The Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group (ESAG) has successfully navigated changes across six decades, and my mission as group CEO is to continue this success while adapting to future trends and changes. We focus on making a lasting impact while remaining true to the integrity of the business. Our goals are clear: growth, sustainability and inclusion.

ESAG2025 is a vision framework that underlines our pledge to provide customers with better choices, increase stakeholder value and provide a roadmap to adapt and be agile even in the most difficult circumstances.

Since our business portfolio encompasses several verticals, including retail, industrial, building and construction as well as real estate, the mandate is to expand investment opportunities in these areas of expertise.

Product and brand development and increasing digital penetration are also a key focus. We will continue to build on our experience as a joint venture partner with key international names such as Unilever and Siemens, to look into segments that offer growth opportunities.

How did the pandemic affect your business and how has the company recovered?
Crisis management is an integral part of our business strategy such that we are well-equipped to face challenges while ensuring business continuity.

We are proud of retaining our strong product focus during the pandemic. We invested in current and new sectors, and ensured we strengthened operations and reinforced supply chains. During the past year and the toughest period of the pandemic, ESAG maintained consistent growth and focused on improving performance margins and quality.

We have also seen how a caring, patient and strong attitude – both individually and collectively –  has carried us through difficult times. Simply put, our resilience complemented disruption in every aspect.

As a result, we have been able to increase efficiencies in our operational businesses while at the same time grow in the market segments we operate in. We have a very strong belief in our market, and have ensured we continue investing regardless of the market condition; if an opportunity or venture fits our goals and plans, we ensure we take it forward.

Tell us about your efforts to promote gender equality and why it is important for not just your company, but also the country and region?
We launched [email protected] to celebrate women for their talent, build self-awareness and position ESAG as an employer of choice.

At ESAG, women at all levels are empowered to continuously learn and develop. We embrace the diverse and innovative thinking this important part of our workforce brings to the group.  We were one of the first private sector family businesses to offer 90-day maternity leave for a healthier work-life balance, whilst also retaining business talent and diversity.

The economic position of women is an important indicator of societal progress.  There is always an opportunity to shift mindset, visualise an equitable workforce where diversity, inclusion and a sense of belonging merge seamlessly.

Can you share details on how the group is contributing to the Net-Zero 2050 initiative?
One of our group companies, Gulf Metal Foundry, has achieved 100 per cent process waste recycling. This has enabled us to save a substantial amount in 2021 in disposal and transportation charges. We are in midst of rolling out an e-waste recycling programme across the group as well as ensuring minimal use of plastic water bottles in the workplace.

Our ESG initiatives are also focused on internal recycling of unused raw material besides processing of paper and non-toxic waste. This has also resulted in a 25 per cent reduction in disposal charges and created a new revenue stream from scrap generated from our manufacturing companies. We expect these revenues to grow exponentially in the near future.

This focus also extends to the type of brands we partner with. Interface, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of flooring products and key brand partner, has a ‘Mission Zero’ goal to source 100 per cent recycled material for its carpet tiles. One of our key partners, Siemens has strategic collaborations with DEWA and Mubadala for green hydrogen.

From an operational perspective, we have made a shift towards increasing electronic approvals and encouraging a paperless mode of work. This ties in with the Dubai government’s Paperless Strategy.

How is the group preparing and adapting to digital transformation?
In the competitive race towards the ‘new normal’, we believe that companies need to prioritise advanced technology, embrace digital transformation and cloud-based solutions, innovation, cybersecurity, data protection and regulatory compliance. This is our roadmap which has been progressively rolled out in various aspects of our operations including the critical supply chain.

The group has also partnered with many organisations that are pioneers in cutting edge technologies.  Our partners have achieved great strides in digital transformation at a global level, and one such example is of Siemens and their continuous evolution in the digital world. In our line of business, we adapt our plans and align our operations to ensure we grow and evolve together. By doing so, we are gearing up for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, as well as the growing utilisation of artificial intelligence, cloud computing, robotics, 3D printing and advanced wireless technologies.

Tell us about some of the fundamental principles of leadership that are important to you.
I was lucky to learn from one of the best. My grandfather, the late Easa Saleh Al Gurg, taught me the importance of personal involvement for true understanding. He always spoke about honesty and humility being key attributes for any leader. He taught me how to listen twice as much as I speak, and take different points of views before making a decision; and if the decision taken proves wrong, having no shame in going back and changing it to a better one.

I believe that to solve a problem, one must first step back and evaluate the situation. It is important to identify possible alternatives. Searching for options and weighing the consequences can really pay off. True evolution is when it becomes second nature to focus on solutions, not problems.

What do leaders in the current scenario need to do to ensure their companies recover and continue to make profits?
Each business has different needs and challenges. Companies should be agile and embrace change.  Those investing in the right technology and business models, while staying true to their legacy and core principles, will be the fastest out of the block.

Purpose serves as a vital North Star, illuminating the direction, linking and steering various transformation efforts. It is not just a noble ideal; it has practical implications for a company’s financial health, competitiveness and survival.

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