Mohammed Fouladkar, the CEO who leads by example
Posted on 2023 Dec,17  | By Ghada Azzi

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Abulhasan Holding Group is a reputed Saudi company that was established in 1998 and which includes diverse units (Media, Communication, Logistics, Car Rental and F&B business). Mohammed Fouladkar, CEO of Abulhasan Holding Group reflects on his journey at the top of the company, the elements of leadership that keep on guiding him as chief officer and how he leads a global team in a constantly evolving industry.

You have been leading the Abulhasan Group of Companies for 20 years now —what are some of the unique challenges associated with leading a company with such a diversified portfolio spanning different sectors?

Diversifying our business into different sectors presents more opportunities than challenges; it broadens our revenue streams and helps mitigate risks associated with industry specific challenges.

At Abulhasan Group, our expansion plans are based on two key economic areas: first industries that are aligned with Vision 2030, such as e-gaming for example, and second, sectors that compliment and integrate with our existing services, to provide a more comprehensive offering to our clients.

For example, in recent years our communication group expanded its portfolio to include media buying unit, full digital services, events, and production. And in no time, we became one of the leading local MBUs and event management companies handling projects such as Neom launch, AL-ULA events, etc.


The rate and pace of change in the kingdom is currently so high and better than yesterday. How is it affecting your business?

The pace of change has a two-pronged effect on our business: in the short-term, we are witnessing tremendous growth in all our business sectors. For example, our construction & furniture sector is high due to the growing number of construction projects and new companies entering the market, accelerated by the new Regional Headquarters Program. In addition, our media company is benefiting from the increased government spending on advertising.

To future-proof our business for the long-term, we are adapting our business strategy to anticipate shifts in consumer behavior. We have been developing our digital services further and expanding into both entertainment and content development.


What are the factors that have contributed to your company's tremendous growth over the past few years?

The key factors that have contributed to our growth are:

- Our Saudi roots - Abulhasan Group is one of the oldest businesses in Saudi, our long standing in the market allows us to better understand our customers’ needs and evolve with them;

- Our talents - over the years, we have built a team of local and international expertise and invested in their development;

- Our agility - thanks to Vision 2030 we learnt to be more open-minded and responsive to emerging trends and innovations, allowing us to remain competitive in an evolving landscape.


You are leading a team across different companies spanning marketing, events, media hub, F&B business, car rental etc. to name only a few. How do you manage such diverse responsibilities?

I depend on my team leaders in each business sector; they play a crucial role in promoting our company values such as empowering people, fostering a collaborative environment, and maintaining an open line of communication.


What are the qualities of a good CEO? Do you think a CEO should be feared or liked?

There are only good CEOs that have a clear vision, capable of inspiring and motivating their teams. A good CEO should aim to be respected rather than feared or liked. So personally, I lead by example and try to enforce fairness, integrity, and accountability.


“The culture and reputation that we’ve organically built over the years has been a major factor in our ability to both attract top industry talents and motivate them to stay with the group.”


What attributes do you look for in your next generation of leaders/managers? And how would you feel about working for someone who knows better than you?

At Abulhasan Group, we are constantly investing in our leadership team to ensure their evolving competency and enhance their ability to develop and promote the next generation of leaders.

Personally, I don’t mind working with someone that possesses better knowledge and experience than myself - as the sources of learning for myself and for the organization are limitless. In fact, I only hire people who can add value to our business and our operations.

The culture and reputation that we’ve organically built over the years has been a major factor in our ability to both attract top industry talents and motivate them to stay with the group.


What would you say is the price to pay for being at the top of the industry?

Being at the top of any industry, and for as long as we have, means that we have a target on our back, and more to lose.

Entrepreneurs and new business entrants are ambitious; they aim to represent a new wave in the industry, overvaluing the new shiny thing and underestimating the importance of experience and expertise. Many of them would be happy with a small slice of the market, and are willing to forgo margins for a foot in the door, choosing to compete on price as they still lack a reputation. These lost opportunities add up, but fortunately, that model is unsustainable and only those who are capable of delivering proven results stand the test of time and persevere.


If you had to do it all over again, what advice would you give the earlier version of yourself?

I would tell my younger self to slow down, release the pressure in the work field, take it easy and enjoy the time.


A year from now, what's your dream accomplishment that you can tell us about?

I think a year from now I would be so proud to have worked on myself. I will focus on my thought-process, mental strength and make sure by then to always get inspired by others to keep pushing forward, and to keep learning from every opportunity that is achievable.