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Sun 1 Oct 2006 04:00 AM

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My first CEO: Christophe Ploux

Use emotional intelligence; in order to succeed, strength points should be fostered and weaknesses should be overcome; be proud of your team

Name: Christophe Ploux

Title: CEO of MAF Dalkia, a leading facility and energy management company in Dubai. MAF Dalkia is part of the Dalkia Group, a European leader in its field. Established in the Middle East in 2003, it now manages over one million square metres of commercial and office space in Dubai and has gained prestigious contracts including Ski Dubai, Mall of the Emirates and Citibank to name a few

Length of time in position: Nine years of managerial experience. This is my first year in that capacity in the UAE

Who was your first CEO?
Laurent Bermejo, international director of Dalkia Group. When I was 32 years-old, he put me in charge of a company the group had recently acquired. I found it strange for him to promote me to the post of general manager when at the time I felt that I was quite young for the job. But he enhanced my self-esteem and boosted my confidence, and I was able to develop my skills.

What did he teach you?
Laurent was a great strategic thinker and mentor. He did not teach me day-to-day operational duties, but he set in my mind the principle of how to become a successful manager. The rule was simple, yet identifying it was essential: In order to succeed, strength points should be fostered and weaknesses should be overcome. Adopting this principle empowered me to continuously assess my own performance as well as that of others.

His best and worst words of advice?
Laurent always says: “When I look at myself in the mirror I feel desperate, but when I look at my neighbour I am happy.” I believe it was the best advice to be able to maintain a positive attitude that in turn helps to positively interact with customers and employees.

How have you applied this?
By constantly challenging my capabilities and continuously raising the bar. This translated into a real case study where, by targeting and attaining higher percentages on year-on-year energy savings, we cut energy costs for our clients by 40% in just three years of operation. By facilitating the best environment to nurture teamwork. This can be achieved by stimulating the best capabilities and skills of each and every employee. It all rests in the hands of people. I am proud to be part of my team that has achieved a significant market share in such a short period of time because of the genuine and sincere efforts extended by each and every one of the employees.

Name one example when you have made a difference to your business?
The development of a ‘customer care orientation program’ aimed at directly involving all company staff in exceeding client expectations. The program has directly impacted the quality of our 24 hours a day helpdesk service, and benefited both the customers and the helpdesk operators.

What makes a good CEO?
Having strong knowledge about the business you are in along with the necessary empowerment in terms of skills and authority is essential to running a successful business. Deploying what is known in psychology as ‘emotional intelligence’, that enables you to empathise with and understand human behaviour, is paramount to getting the best possible output and the most positive interaction from every employee. This makes a true leader.

What three qualities should every chief executive have?
• Good level of energy
• Positive criticism
• Pragmatism

What three things should a CEO never do?
Work for personal recognition; ask too much from the team without giving enough resources; and failing to listen enough to your employees. This only results in isolation.

What advice would you have for an aspiring CEO?
Relax and do your best.

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