Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Mohammed Al Ghassani Talks Innovation

Eng. Mohammed Al Ghassani is Executive Vice President, PEIE and an initiator of the Smart Manufacturing Conference. In fact, he’s viewed by many as a key player in the government’s initiative to develop a stronger business culture of innovation and entrepreneurship. PEIE Mirror caught up with him to discuss his views on: corporate culture; innovation; business trends; and mentoring. This is what he had to say:

PM: Do you feel PEIE has a distinct corporate culture? If so, how would you describe it?

Our culture is extremely entrepreneurial. PEIE’s run like a growing for-profit business, with an emphasis on creative thinking, innovation, passion and quality.

PM: Knowledge Oasis Muscat (KOM) - which is part of the PEIE portfolio - is a sponsor of the Smart Manufacturing Conference what’s your understanding of innovation in a manufacturing context?

Innovation is for me an adventure. An idea you get excited about and which you pursue passionately. It evolves and develops throughout the minds of people and grows by teamwork. An innovation can be based on a new technology, a new service or changing the whole product system or business. As far as Smart Manufacturing is concerned, given the nature of the two-day program and the quality of presenters, KOM is honoured to be involved in such an important business event.

PM: What major trends will we have to consider within the next 5 years concerning innovation?

Major trends will be shaped by technology convergence and the totally new business opportunities resulting from this. This will in turn increase the need for new methods of exchanging knowledge between partners and the integration of knowledge from very different disciplines.

PM: As PEIE’s Executive Vice President, you’ve been involved in developing KOM, what have been the keys in bringing KOM to the level it is at today?

Hiring excellent people. It's the motivated staff who contribute the ingredients that enable us to keep taking it to that next level year after year.

PM: What do you feel the future holds for small firms over the next few years?

The future is very promising for small firms in Oman. The Government is constantly looking at ways to improve finance options for them – making access to loans easier and simpler for the people who actually run small businesses. Through the Knowledge Mine business incubator program we will continue to promote and assist start-ups and maintain our efforts to increase the participation of those under represented in business, particularly drawing on the wealth of talent in women’s business.

PM: What trends and changes do you see occurring in business today?

Younger people are starting companies that involve services and technology. We’re witnessing this trend very clearly on KOM. Business owners are focusing on conservation of resources, profit and greater customer service. Lenders are looking for proven businesses ready for funding, and money is out there. This is an opportunity time for KOM because more people are starting businesses.

PM: What advice would you give to a young person that wants to one day succeed in business?

Shed the industrial-age idea that you go to school and get a good life-long job with benefits and a pension. Entrepreneurs think differently - how can I create jobs and provide a valuable service/product? Begin to develop your network of contacts. Read. Find a peer group. Go to conferences such as Smart Manufacturing. And when you do find that great idea, focus on making a successful system, otherwise you just own a job.

PM: How important do you consider networking and building contacts to be for an entrepreneur's success?

Primary importance. You’re only as big as your neighbourhood. You must realize that you can't do it all, and building a knowledgeable network greatly increases your chances for success.

PM: If you could pin it down to just one thing, what is the one most important thing you have learned about business?

You have to be able to read and understand the numbers.

PM: Any final advice for young entrepreneurs, businessmen, or businesswomen just getting started?

Find a mentor and a peer group. Give respect if you want it in return. Have an attitude of gratitude, not an attitude of entitlement and give - it will come back to you 10-fold.