After nine years as chief operating officer, Sam Barnett, once an NGO worker, became CEO of MBC Group in 2011 which operates under chairman Sheikh Waleed Al Ibrahim. Barnett, an INSEAD graduate, joined the group in 2002 after his former employer Arthur Andersen imploded during the Enron scandal. He supported the chairman in restructuring the commercial flow of the company into the largest media and entertainment group in the Middle East and North Africa region, with 11 channels including the Al Arabiya news outlet and two radio stations and three online platforms under its umbrella. MBC was the first private free-to-air satellite broadcasting company in the Arab world after its launch in London in 1991. Barnett has overseen the launch of several new channels and the enforcement of commercial and financial disciplines on all operations.
Willie Walsh has always been one of the most outspoken chief executives in the aviation industry but now having steered British Airways and Iberia back into the black, the Irishman is proving there is metal behind his words.