In our current series of ‘7 questions with’, we present you, Mohamad El Yassir – Regional MD – MEA, Whirlpool Corp, who says the highest point in his career is yet to come.
#1 What first attracted you to your current role as MD – Middle East & Africa?
As a management professional, I’m keen to seek out new challenges where I am able to create value through my leadership and experience.
I have always been impressed by the highly evolved product strategy and wide regional footprint of the Whirlpool Corporation brand.
Being able to use these strengths to further grow our market share and make Whirlpool the preferred home appliance brand in every market within the Middle East and Africa was an attractive proposition.
Additionally, my previous experience has been in the FMCG, telecommunications and electronics sector. However, the dynamics and complexity of the home appliances sector makes it a particularly exciting space.
I believe the home appliances sector is going through a transition driven by technology changes and consumer preferences and Whirlpool is uniquely positioned to benefit from this transition, given our unparalleled investment in research and development.
#2 What has been the highest point of your career so far?
I would like to think that the highest point in my career is ahead of me!
In a career spanning 25 years, I have had the opportunity to be at the frontline of several critical projects. Each one of these challenges has been unique and gratifying as a professional.
I evaluate the value of each challenge through the impact I was able to make and the learning I had in the process.
From this standpoint, managing the Mars boycott crisis in early 2000s and emerging stronger and more successful from it was a great experience.
There have been a few more along the way, including setting up Scotch Brite’s converting facility in the region for 3M and taking LG’s mobile business into frontier markets in Africa.
That said, my current challenge of leading Whirlpool across Middle East and Africa and deepening our customer engagement at a time of industry transition is an unmatched experience and one that I would like to look back in a few years as the highest point of my career.
#3 If you could restart your career from the beginning, what would you change?
Steve Jobs once said “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.”
There have been times in my career, especially in leadership roles, when I wished I could take out the uncertainty element of the decision-making process. However, each one of those decisions has led me into being where I am today.
Looking back and connecting my dots, I feel quite satisfied with the choices I made and the decisions I took using the information I had at my disposal.
In fact, my advice to all young business leaders would be to trust their skills and judgment without regrets.
#4 What are the biggest challenges facing chief marketing officers in the year 2018?
It depends which chief officer you ask!
There is no doubt that the shifting economic landscape across markets has made it impossible for businesses to thrive using the traditional growth model.
In the home appliances sector, we have some distinct factors that will likely impact business performance in this year. In the GCC for example, the introduction of the VAT has realigned consumer spending, but I believe this is a temporary adjustment and that overall, the VAT would be a big positive for the economy.
Interestingly, it also means that innovation-led product strategies will be even more relevant in the months ahead.
Political instability in some regional markets has stressed the supply chain and consumption appetite. This theme would continue to be relevant in 2018.
In some African markets, currency volatility might become a factor but given the underserved nature of the African region, we expect growth to continue in the next few years.
As a company, we are well prepared to meet all these challenges. We are highly optimistic about the prospects for the MEA region and believe we have the right mix of people, products and partners to succeed in the current environment.
#5 What is the one thing that you can’t live without?
My family and loved ones, of course.
On the professional front, I cannot imagine a life without the pursuit of new challenges.
#6 What is the first thing you do after waking up on a morning?
Grab my espresso and read the major business news from all over the world, especially in the home appliances and technology sector.
#7 What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Having the opportunity to lead Whirlpool business in Middle East and Africa would definitely come out on top.