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Ahead of their appearances at the International Conference for the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Business Award 2011 next month, business leaders, Hamad Buamim, Sunil Sinha and Dr Harry Hertz share their insights into what makes a successful business.


Hamad Buamim, Director General, Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry

What makes a good business leader?

With company reputation, viability and sometimes survival at stake, one of the critical roles of leadership today is to institutionalise corporate social responsibility and an ethical climate within an organisation. Indicators of strong leadership include a person who serves as a champion of CSR values, someone who ensures CSR policies meet practice, and someone who assumes full accountability for a company’s economic, social and environmental impacts. The vast majority of CEOs now recognise that expectations with respect to sustainability are increasing. Pressure to act is mounting. It is coming from stakeholders, employees, customers, governments, investors, the media, and society in general. Changing perceptions and habits, which are entrenched within an organisation has got to come from the top. It requires a clear vision, realistic goals and determination to succeed.

How does Dubai Chamber strive to achieve excellence?

We strive for excellence across all our internal operations and the same applies for all our members, which amount to more than 120,000 businesses. It is not just having the right will and determination to succeed, a company needs to have the correct tools in order to succeed and these are what we try to provide them with. Initiatives like our Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Business Award provide UAE businesses with an excellent opportunity to benchmark themselves against international best practice and put in place business models with proven track records of success.

How can a company achieve excellence?

It is not enough to simply focus on the bottom line if a company wants to achieve excellence. A multi-faceted approach needs to be taken that considers a range of areas including the organisation’s leadership, its business model, strategic focus, work place culture and sustainability agenda.

Why did Dubai Chamber establish the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Business Award?

The award was established to promote the awareness of performance excellence, which is an increasingly important element in competitiveness. The award not only recognises organisations with exceptional performance strategies, but also aims to increase the understanding of the requirements for performance excellence. Ultimately, the award promotes information sharing about successful performance strategies and the benefits of using these strategies.

Which organisations can enter and how are they judged?

The award is open to all private or publicly owned for profit organisations in the UAE, regardless of type or size. The criteria was developed using international best practice and business models for achieving performance excellence. This criteria forms the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Business Model, which is internationally regarded. In order for organisations to adopt this model we have developed the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Business Performance Programme, which encompasses seminars, training workshops and roundtable discussions on topics like performance excellence, how to achieve a competitive advantage and sustainabile business practices.

Sunil Sinha, CEO Quality Management System, Tata Group

What are the key drivers behind Tata’s business success?

For a group as diverse as the Tata Group – a salt to software conglomerate – the key drivers behind our success are manifold, however they fall into two distinct facets.

The first and foremost is based on the heritage of the group and is enshrined in our founding principles. At the Tata Group we are committed to improving the quality of life of the communities we serve. We do this by striving for leadership and global competitiveness in the business sectors in which we operate. Our practice of returning to society what we earn evokes trust among consumers, employees, shareholders and the community. We are committed to protecting this heritage of leadership with trust through the manner in which we conduct our business. This has resulted in the Tata brand becoming synonymous with trust and this has been earned over the last 120 years of history, built by successive Tata leaders.

The second distinct facet is the ability to change with the times. This is reflected in some key levers that the group has used for change, like our unified brand identity, portfolio management of the businesses with planned entry into high growth areas and exits from non-core, expanding in overseas geographies through strategic acquisitions and focusing on business excellence, like continually improving quality of products and services as well as the way we run the businesses.

What lessons can other businesses learn from Tata’s exceptional growth?

The key aspects that other businesses can learn from the Tata’s success story are to never compromise on values – one can still succeed without compromising on your value system; identify core areas and seek to be amongst the best in them; and develop products to serve the base of the pyramid in developing markets like Asia and Africa. Corporate sustainability should also be an integral part of the business strategy and building a healthy leadership pipeline by providing challenging roles to young managers is also important.

How can businesses stay ahead of the pack and become market leaders?

First and foremost you need to build a reputation for the brand then adopt new strategies to deal with emerging competitors. The pace of change internally must be faster than the pace of change externally. At the same time never sacrifice quality and excellence and recruit the best and empower them appropriately. All this will help you create an innovative culture and new opportunities, which will help you stay ahead.

How do you define business excellence?

Business excellence is about quality and superlative performance in every aspect of operations. It is a way of life. At the Tata Group, the Tata Business Excellence Model is a philosophy which covers our processes across all aspects of our business and is built into the DNA of our people.

How important is it that companies adopt business models, like the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Business Performance Model, to achieve success?

A business excellence model, like the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Business Performance Model, or the Tata Business Excellence Model, has key characteristics that help a company to focus upon like customer centricity, process centricity, valuing people, the execution of excellence, the culture of continuous improvement and performance because what is best today is not always the best tomorrow.

The business excellence models are derived from the practices of some of the most successful companies globally and a company using some of these levers has a significant likelihood of being successful.

Dr Harry Hertz, Director of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Program, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

Can you tell us about the Malcom Baldrige National Quality Award (MBNQA)?

The MBNQA is a presidential award to recognise role model organisations in the United States. The Baldrige Performance Excellence Program is a national education programme to educate organisations across the US about the use of the Baldrige criteria as a vehicle for systematic performance improvement and innovation. The MBNQA as one component of the education programme focuses on the sharing of successful strategies and best practices by award winners.

What is performance excellence and how is it measured?

Performance excellence is an integrated approach to organisational performance management that results in the delivery of ever-improving value to customers and stakeholders, the improvement of overall organisational effectiveness and capabilities, and organisational and personal learning. It is measured by use of a combination of the Baldrige criteria for performance excellence and a set of scoring guidelines that look at measures of process maturity and results across the three dimensions listed above.

How can a company achieve performance excellence?

A company can achieve performance excellence through a systems approach to organisational performance management. That system’s approach looks at leadership; strategic planning; customer focus; measurement, analysis, and knowledge management; workforce focus; operations focus; and results.

Why have you chosen to take part in the International Conference for the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Business Award?

Performance excellence cannot be achieved in isolation. In a global economy, understanding excellence and being excellent can only be achieved through understanding the best practices in other countries and sharing the knowledge that we have gained. The more we have a common business language for discussing key challenges that all companies face the better we will be as partners in a global economy. So, I am taking part in the conference in the spirit of international cooperation, to share our knowledge and to learn from best practices in other countries.

What benefits will companies gain by participating in the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Business Award?

Companies will improve their performance and be better prepared to sustain themselves in a competitive marketplace. Companies should participate in the award for the learning and improvements they will achieve through use of the criteria. They should not participate solely to win an award. The business award is about getting better in your processes and results. You participate to win business first and win an award second.

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