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Sun 1 Oct 2006 04:00 AM

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The honeymooners: How they fared

CEO Middle East caught up with recently appointed chief executives from three very different businesses to uncover their honeymoon experiences.

CEO Middle East caught up with recently appointed chief executives from three very different businesses to uncover their honeymoon experiences.

THE SIX-MONTH CEO Who: Yousif Taqi, CEO of Al Salam Bank

Appointed: April 2006

Preparation for the role
Key preparations included lengthy discussion and debate with members of the founding committee regarding the long-term strategy, mission and values of the bank. Equally important was clearly identifying the wants and needs of all stakeholders, not only to ensure their satisfaction but also what we expected from them in return.

Major challenges so far
Following the initial legal, commercial and regulatory procedures and the launch of the IPO and subsequent listing on the Bahrain Stock Exchange, the challenge was to build the institutional capacity of the bank.

What changes have you made to the company since your arrival
Al Salam Bank was established in April 2006, and we are in the final stages of preparing to launch full-scale operations during the last quarter of this year. So, rather than making changes to an existing set-up, it was a question of setting up the bank from scratch.

What advice do you have for other recently appointed CEOs
You should have a visionary approach, uphold the highest business ethics, respect others, manage change effectively, embrace innovation and always being ready to learn.THE SUCCESSIONAL CEO
Who: Andrea Rossi, CEO of AXA Insurance Gulf

Appointed: August 2006

Preparation for the role
I was lucky because I actually oversaw the Middle East region for three years at AXA, so I understand how business works out here. However, it is one thing overseeing and another thing operating on the ground!

Major challenges so far
The key to settling in from day one is to make sure you meet up with all your employees. I did this by going on a roadshow across the Gulf region, having two or three-hour meetings in our offices to find out what we were doing right, what we were doing wrong and what needed to be fixed, so I’ve been on the road since I took up the role. I promised all employees that I would respond to every one of their queries, which will be a real challenge.

What changes have you made to the company since your arrival
I have made a commitment to every staff member that they will have some form of training in the next year.

What advice do you have for other recently appointed CEOs
When you are a new CEO, you have so much energy and there is a tendency to want to over achieve, but you have to put this energy into the right places. Take time to understand the company and don’t make decisions too quickly.THE START-UP CEO
Who: Bob Moore, CEO of Energy City Qatar

Appointed: March 2006

Preparation for the role
Part of the interview process for the role was to develop the business plan for Energy City Qatar on the back of its success. This gave me the opportunity to get to know which way some of the other board members thought.

Major challenges so far
Part of the challenge was starting the business from scratch. I have had to develop different relationships with the local government and international governments. You can imagine the challenge of setting-up a company that is a city project. We need to be in contact with everybody.

How have you integrated with your fellow board members
Our relationship has been very successful so far and they have been very supportive. Obviously they expect leadership and they have a vision there for the financial growth of the company. Actually, I have a relationship with two boards as we also have an international advisory board.

What advice do you have for other recently appointed CEOs
The main thing is to make sure you have the right people around you. You also have to make sure you understand the vision and objectives of the company as clearly as possible.

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