Alabbar: The world today is run by the young
You will become irrelevant if you do a 9-to-5 routine now, says Emaar Properties chairman
Basic business principles are the same from 20 years ago to today but the change now is that the world is run by the young, Mohamed Alabbar, chairman of Emaar Properties and founder of Noon.com, said on Wednesday.
Giving the closing presentation at the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) conference, Alabbar said innovation was there 20 years ago.
"Business plans, processes, risk, care of the customer; these basic principles do not change. The change now is that the world is run by the young. Look at Canada's prime minister, the president of France, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mark Zuckerberg. The world is run by very energetic, intelligent, young people with high IQs. They think differently, but at the same time, they operate with technology."
"Your phone software updates every month, and that's how often you should update a business to look at the real change that takes place. The scary thing is not the digital part, the scary thing is the average age group of these leaders and organisations."
Stressing digital growth and the importance to keep up with its speed of change if companies want to stay relevant, he said: "Digital companies grow 30 per cent a month, my businesses grows 20 per cent a year. Digital customers are on 24/7, there is no time to close the shop."
"In the UAE, we are only 46 years old, we are young, we need to catch up. So, how efficient are you? How fast can you think and learn and assess risk? That's a big challenge for all of us. This 24/7 style is going to be the way we do business. There's no 9-to-5 now. If you do that, you will become irrelevant, you won't belong," he said.
Alabbar talked about his own experience working in audit and how it gave him the foundations to run his businesses. "I finished my studies and I worked for 5 years as an auditor at a bank. It was a learning experience, it gave me the basis of being very aggressive and realistic in my businesses. Now, I am grounded; I watch my balance sheet, revenue, collection, and with all my love to them, I stay as far as possible from the bankers!"
Alabbar gave some insight into how his own companies manage risk and governance. "At Emaar, we're obsessed with large sites - 4 million sqft or more," he said. "We don't pay the money upfront. We pay over 10 years or we make a joint venture with the land owners, so we manage our cash well.
"Dubai's growth, leadership and infrastructure has helped us to do well. With all its nationalities, Dubai is a creation of the world and an example of how the world can live together."
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