By Ahmad Kilani, CEO, Tabarak Investment
editor's pickTuesday 25, September 2018
From the contortions of forged steel making a skyscraper, to pressed resin and carbon fibre forming a performance car, to curves and pantones creating a logo; our modern economy is full of remarkable technological achievements. Yet, given the breadth of our economy, pace of innovation, and tools available, few companies can be identified as true, enduring icons. It’s one thing to build a tower—it’s another altogether to do so year-on year for decades, on budget and to scope, with quality and consistency standing for generations. It’s one thing to build a sports car and another to deliver consistent innovation for decades such that a star, corporate initials, or sketch of a propeller in flight become synonymous with top-of-the line performance—icons. Iconic companies do not just get by; they define economies, set trends, and deliver consistent returns for their shareholders. Such achievements transcend the capabilities of any one person or team; they require the aligned efforts of thousands spanning continents, working in a collective upward direction over a timeline that far surpasses individual careers.
The only mechanism for instilling such a commitment to quality, consistency, and innovation is, without a doubt, culture. Company cultures do not happen by accident, and they’re not easy to come by. Culture is forged through a clear definition of vision, mission, and an unambiguous definition of the values from which the company will achieve its goals. Values are indoctrinated, time and again, through leadership actions, communication and performance reviews until—over years—they become internalised by each member of the organisation. At Tabarak, an Emirati-led private equity firm, we aim to deliver more than just high returns to our shareholders and investors. Through each company we transform, job we secure and community we contribute to, we play a role supporting the economy and sustaining the long-term wellbeing of our nation.
When Tabarak takes on an underperforming company with the goal of transforming it into a strong economic contributor, we understand our role extends far beyond injecting capital. At the heart, we are taking on the responsibility of that company’s culture. To succeed in each investment, we identify the flaws that led the company into troubled waters, build on the components that work harmoniously, and put in place a long-term strategy for the revised vision, mission, and values to be truly internalised. While these values vary in each company, there are certain universal themes we do not compromise on: integrity, accountability, and respect. To hold credibility and relevance to an organisation, a company’s culture must ultimately grow from within, guided by top management, and tailored to the specific challenges and opportunities of each organisation. It’s definitely a task that is easier said than done. While the line will not always point directly upward, and issues will inevitably occur, commitment to living a thoughtfully constructed vision, mission, and values will always underpin an overall trend for the better.
I firmly believe this upward trend is reflected in the thousands of jobs Tabarak has created or enhanced, across sectors such as real estate, infrastructure, construction, education, logistics, manufacturing, insurance and services—with assets ranging from Al Ain University of Science & Technology to Wahat Al Zaweya, a leading real estate development company, to Gulf Navigation Holding, operator of petrochemical tankers, and the only maritime and shipping company listed on the Dubai Financial Market (GULFNAV). While profitability of our portfolio companies is a key success metric— ultimately, we are in the business of values. We work to enhance and reinforce the cultures of our assets to underpin success, not only for a few quarters, but for generations to come.